I purchased this Acer Chromebook at the end of last year to use for short trips and doing basic tasks online. The plan was to use it as a backup computer. I also planned on taking it with me on short trips because of its small size and weight. I have not actually taken it on an airplane yet, but I am certain it will be more convenient than hauling my 17 inch Toshiba notebook around.
Overall I must say, you get a lot for $199 but you need to understand what these machines are designed to do before becoming overly critical of what it cannot do.
When you take it out of the box, the first thing you notice is that the Chromebook feels solid and does not flex although it is plastic. I have owned Windows machines that looked and felt much cheaper than this little Chromebook despite costing three times as much. Some people think it is not attractive but I do not have a problem with it.
The first thing you notice when you turn it on is that it takes less than 10 seconds to boot up. When I start my Toshiba laptop in the morning, I have time to go make coffee in the morning before that thing stops twitching and is ready for use.
Most people do very simple things on their laptops and the Chromebook is very capable of doing all of the most common tasks such as online shopping, Facebook/Twitter and checking email. Some people listen to music on their notebooks, however, the speakers on this machine are nothing special.
Everything you do on a Chromebook is done within the Chrome browser and having as many as 10 tabs open within it is no problem for the RAM on this machine.I opted for the 16 GB solid state drive which offers a limited amount of onsite storage. Remember though, most everything on these machines are done through the cloud so as long as you understand that, it should not be an issue. I am reminded of my first PC back in 1998 though. It had a whopping 4 GB hard drive in it.
Your purchase also includes 100 GB of storage in the cloud from Google. The first two years are free after that, Google charge $5 per month.
It also has a built-in web cam for video chats, however you cannot run Skype on it. That is owned by Microsoft now and they are not playing nice with each other.
You can stream movies through it from Netflix or with one of the streaming sticks from Google or Roku attached into the USB port.
It also has a Power Wash feature that returns it back to its original state when you bought it similar to Quick Restore features on a Windows PC.
There is also an upgraded version of this Acer model that features a touchscreen which adds a $100 to the total price. In my opinion, you can skip that. I looked at them in the store but decided I could do without and I have not regretted that decision.
The battery is this little Chromebook is impressive. It seems like it goes on and on forever. It advertises 8.5 hours and I easily got that during some tests. This is great if you are going out for the day or end up one morning at a coffee shop because you do not have to lug the power cord with you. You are in no danger of running out of juice even if you set up camp in a place for 3 or 4 hours. It also charges very fast.
Keyboard and Touchpad
As you know, I write a lot and the keyboard on this little Chromebook feels good when typing. It does have a touchpad that works ok using two-finger scrolling, but I am not a big fan of touchpads of any type. I always hook up a wireless mouse to anything, and you can do that with this Chromebook.
The display screen is average at best. Google did not put a lot of money into this aspect. You will need to tilt the screen to get the right angle to have adequate contrast. If you are used to a retina display from Apple products, you are going to be very disappointed with this screen, however, remember this is a barebones way to do the most common tasks on the web. It is not designed to be all things.
- You cannot run Skype on a Chromebook. Google and Microsoft are not playing nice. If you want to video chat you will need to use something like Google Hangouts
- There is no direct way to attach a printer. You will need to print through Google Cloud. If you have a wireless printer at home, it will send your documents to it through your wireless network
- The USB ports do not charge other devices if you hook them up. The Chromebook is not designed to work that way as other notebooks do.
Amazon Price: $199.99 $179.99 Buy Now
(price as of Jan 18, 2015)
Working with MS Office Programs on a Chromebook
You can create some documents in MS Office and then export them through the cloud for use in MS Office on your more robust machine. It works well with Word and Excel documents. It allows you to only view PowerPoint presentations.
It is not the type of machine you want to be working on complex documents though, similar to what you would experience on a tablet. You can get by though until you get to your normal notebook or desktop computer.
I cannot say how it works with MS Office in the cloud. I believe it is called MS Office 365.
Summary of Best Features of Acer C720 Chromebook
- Intel Celeron 2955U 1.4 GHz (Haswell micro-architecture)
- 2 GB DDR3L SDRAM is more than enough RAM for normal use
- 16 GB Solid-State Drive
- 11.6-Inch Anti-Glare Screen, Intel HD Graphics
- HDMI port, 8.5-hour battery life
- Works great for Facebook, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Twitter, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Pandora, Youtube
- Will connect with other Windows based laptops via your network
- Works seamlessly with Google Offerings such as Google Drive, Google Docs, Chrome Remote Desktop, Google Cloud Print and all apps in Google Play
- Runs sites with Adobe Flash
- VPN capable
- Full SD slot
I find this to be a great second or backup machine for doing basic tasks. Chromebooks are perfect for kids, elderly people or people that do not have a lot of technical skills because frankly, there is not a lot they can mess up. There is almost no maintenance involved with the Chrome OS because updates are pushed through behind the scenes.
I gave the Chromebook a four star rating. It is not perfect but it does what it is supposed to do at a reasonable price of $199.