Only two days after launching US preorders for Acer's Chrome OS-based notebooks, Amazon has officially opened the floodgates today. The e-tailer is currently offering the Acer AC700-1099 Wi-Fi for $349 with free shipping, which is about as cheap as you can expect to find a Chromebook in the near future (Samsung's versions are pricier outright because they're better equipped, while Acer's 3G model will surely cost more).
The 3.2lb system comes equipped with a dual-core (four threads) 1.66GHz Intel Atom N570 processor, an Intel GMA 3150, 16GB of NAND flash-based storage, 2GB of DDR3 RAM, an 11.6-inch 1366x768 display, a 1.3-megapixel webcam, integrated speakers, a multi-touch trackpad and a purported "full-sized" keyboard. Connectivity includes one HDMI port and two USB 2.0 ports, while battery life peaks at six hours.
As noted, this model lacks mobile broadband, so you'll have to rely on 802.11a/b/g/n for Internet access. Acer's 3G version doesn't appear to be available yet (nor have we seen pricing), but it should have seemingly identical specifications to the Wi-Fi iteration besides the cellular connectivity. Samsung's Series 5 Chromebook has been available through Amazon for some time in Wi-Fi ($429) or 3G-equipped ($499) models.
Network connectivity aside, the Series 5 Chromebook comes with a 12.1-inch 1280x800 display, a 4-in-1 card reader, a mini-VGA port, and offers up to 8.5 hours of battery life. Despite its beefier battery life and other minor extras, most reviewers seem to agree that Samsung's Chromebooks are a poor value compared to Windows-based netbooks, so perhaps Acer's cheaper offerings will fare a little better in the public mind.