While there aren't many awesome new Chromebooks at CES 2023, we're seeing some Chrome diversity from Acer in what it's calling a "modular" all-in-one, the Acer Add-in-One 24. (No, that's not a typo. Yes, really.) Before we dive into this enigma of a desktop bundle, we first begin with its heart: the Acer Chromebox CXI5. It's been two years since its predecessor, the CXI4, and while the exterior design is quite similar, it's getting the 12th Gen Intel processors it needs to keep up with its enterprise competitors.
I wish that Acer had given the CXI5 more than two USB4 Type-C peripheral ports — especially in the age of USB-C monitors and docking stations — but you still get 4 USB-A ports, dual HDMI, DisplayPort, and Ethernet. This is mountable, but given Acer's mention of specialized screws, it's unclear if it will support VESA mounting out of the box for those who buy it standalone or if it'll need something more specialized.
Acer is starting the Chromebox CXI5 at $290 for the Celeron model — why the company insists upon selling a Celeron model is a complete mystery — sometime in the first quarter of the year, but given how hard the CXI4 was to find for much of the last two years, it's unclear what the prices for the i3/i5 models that most consumers would want will sit. That's unfortunate; Chromeboxes already have a distinct disadvantage when competing for normal, non-enterprise customers. You can find plenty of Chromebooks with 12th Gen i3's and 8-16GB of RAM for $400 or less, while smaller supply and lower interest often left the Acer CXI4 distinctly more expensive while still requiring you to pair it with a display.
The Acer Add-in-One 24 seeks to potentially solve this problem by bundling the Chromebox CXI5 with a 24-inch 1080p screen with a built-in webcam, microphone, and speakers. As ridiculous as the name sounds, it's not like Acer could actually call this Chrome duo an all-in-one like the HP Chromebase 21.5. The CXI5 slots into a perfectly-sized slot on the back, with Acer claiming you'll be able to swap it out for newer Chromeboxes down the line — or hopefully other mini-PCs — should the monitor actually outlive the desktop powering it. The built-in webcam is only 5MP, but has a 115-degree field of view and a privacy shutter. I wouldn't expect too much out of the bottom-mounted 4-watt speakers, but it should be fine for casual and corporate users alike. It'll start at $610 when it reaches retailers in the next few months, and I'm hopeful that's with an i5 or at least an i3-equipped CXI5 inside.
Acer aimed squarely at corporate America with the Add-in-One, touting the ability to swap the Chromebox on the back with another when it is in need of repair. It's a shame Acer won't be selling the Add-in-One 24 docking monitor on its own. Works With Chromebook-certified USB-C hub/dock monitors are still relatively few and far between, and while 1080p isn't stunning resolution, it's a clean setup that would make easy one-stop-shopping for a Chromebook owner wanting to upgrade their home office setup. Maybe next year we'll get a 2K version that works with Acer's Chromebooks, as well as its newest Chromeboxes.