What is the Best Chromebook 2014?
It is hard to beat the Acer 11 in my opinion.
Earlier this year, I posted a review of an Acer c720 Chromebook. Overall I was pleased with the laptop and rated it as four out of five stars, however, I ended up giving it to a friend of mine in Brazil.
Over the recent Thanksgiving holiday, I saw a Black Friday deal for another Chromebook, the Acer Chromebook 11. It normally retailed for $199, however, Best Buy had it for $149,00 so I jumped on it because I needed another lite travel laptop.
I have been using it for about a week now so I will let you know what I think of these compact, versatile machines once again.
These tablet-like laptops are portable and allow you to actually do work on them with their functional keyboard and touch pad, unlike a large tablet. They are a great compromise between a large tablet and a small notebook.
For this particular model, the screen measures 11.6 inches diagonally so the screen is slightly larger than an iPad.
The keyboard and touchpad allow you to easily do everything you need to do on a larger desktop computer, something I have found to be nearly impossible with a tablet and virtual keyboard.
If you have always been a Windows PC person, the Chromebook will take some getting used to, but the first big difference you will notice is when you hit the power button because it takes it about 10 seconds to boot up. The second thing you notice is how quiet it is. No fan, no spinning hard drive.
On startup, you are taken to a sign-in screen and you must sign in with your google account. If you do not have one, it is easy enough to set one up.
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 and checking email.
Others like listen to music on their notebooks, however, the speakers on this machine are nothing special. That is not really what it is designed for although it will play and stream music adequately.
Everything you do on a Chromebook is done within a stripped down version of the Chrome browser, which is based on Linix.
After experimenting a bit, I found no issues having as many as 10 tabs open at the same time. It contains a 16 GB solid state drive which offers a limited amount of onsite storage. Remember though, most everything on these machines is done through the cloud so as long as you understand that, it should not be an issue.
Storage on Chromebook
Most Chromebooks only contain a 16 GB hard drive. While that may have been a lot in 1998 (my first desktop computer had a 4 GB hard drive with 16 MB of RAM), it is not a lot of space to store many high megapixel photos or videos.
Your purchase also includes 100 GB of storage in the cloud from Google for the first two years, then after that you will pay $60 a year. This leads to one of the minor problems I have with Chromebooks.
A lot of companies are trying to push everything to the cloud, guaranteeing your privacy, however, I am skeptical. I am hesitant to upload anything private into anyone’s cloud. I simply do not trust their security and you only have to look at the headlines to have proof that these systems are not as secure as they claim.
However, there is an easy solution to this that does not require you storing your personal items in the cloud.
Simply insert a 32 or 64 GB SD card in the reader on the side of the Chromebook, or plug a separate portable hard drive into the unit via one of the USB port.
Loading Programs on Chromebooks
The biggest difference that a Windows PC user must get used to is the way items are stored, and how things are loaded on a Chromebook. You can’t simply load any program on it.
You have to go into Google’s app store and download them there, and they appear in a list of apps to run similar to the way they appear on a smartphone.
This can take some getting used to for Windows or Mac users. It is a different philosophy of making laptops. Google tried to cut out everything that was making laptops heavier, thicker, and more expensive, so things like CD/DVD drives and traditional large hard drives went out the window. But because of this type of redesign geared toward specific types of computing tasks, and lite use, there is no need for a high powered processor, which also cuts down on costs, plus no need for a fan to cool everything off. This not only saves on weight and thickness, but sound as well, because you will never hear an annoying fan running because the CPU is getting too hot.
Worried about a virus on Chromebook? Well, there is no need for power hogging programs like Norton or McAfee. Google takes care of all of that behind the scenes.
If you can manage this difference in philosophy, then a Chromebook may be for you. I will say that it does take some getting used to given that I have always used Windows based machines.
Acer Chromebook 11 - Compact and only 2.4 lbs.
Notice I have demonstrated how you can add memory storage with an SD card inserted on the left, or plug a portable harddrive via one of two USB ports.
Amazon Price: $169.99 $159.99 Buy Now
(price as of Jul 10, 2016)
Video Chats on a Chromebook
There is a built-in web cam for video chats, however one important point you need to remember is that you cannot run Skype on Chromebooks. Maybe Google and Microsoft will get together with an agreement in the future, but that is not likely given that Microsoft has set out to destroy the Chromebook market with their own low cost, Windows 8.1 based tiny laptops like the HP Stream.
There are other programs you can use to video chat, however, if you are a heavy Skype user, you will probably not find Chromebooks very appealing.
How Long does a Battery Last on a Chromebook?
A long time. This may be the most impressive part of the little computer.
The specifications say 8.5 hours for Acer Chromebook battery life and that seems about right, however, it depends on what you are doing. If you are streaming video the entire time, you will get a little less than that.
Also, Chromebooks replenish their charge very fast.
Keyboard and Touchpad on Chromebook
The keyboard and touchpad is very user friendly. You will have to adjust to typing on a smaller key board if you are used to a 15 or 17 inch laptop, however, I have found it to be manageable.
I do not use the touchpad on any device. I find them incredibly annoying and will only use them in an emergency situation, such as when the battery in my wireless mouse runs out.
In those instances, the touchpad is responsive, so heavy users will not have an issue with it in my opinion.
Summary of Potential Issues for Some
- You cannot run Skype on a Chromebook so you will have to use something like Google Hangouts for video chatting
- There is no direct way to attach a printer so you must print through Google Cloud.
- The USB ports do not charge other devices when attached.
- Cannot use JAVA based apps such as stock streamers on Etrade
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.
There are also specific Word and Excel apps you can download to use on Chrome.
Summary of Best Features of Acer Chromebook 11
- Intel Celeron
- 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
- Need to sign in with Google Account to use
- Must be connect to the internet for use
- Power Wash feature restores the laptop back to original state
- Works great for Facebook, Gmail, 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 but not Java
- VPN capable
- Full SD slot for expandable memory
Acer Chromebook 11 Unpacking and Setup
Chromebook Best Apps
- Google Drive
- Google Docs
- Google Maps
- Word online
- Excel Online
- The Weather Channel
The Acer Chromebook 11 looks cool. It feels like a tablet, lite and compact, but with the benefit of an attached keyboard with touchpad.
Just as the Acer c720 Chromebook, this is a great travel laptop. It really is like a tablet, only better because you can actually work on it.
This little machine will allow you to do just about everything most people do on a computer such as checking email and surfing the web. Videos play seamlessly and it can easily handle 10 tabs open in Chrome. However, you probably would not want to do heavy duty work on it such as video processing, photo editing or even writing online for sites like Infobarrel.
There is almost no maintenance involved with the Chrome OS because updates are pushed out automatically and there is no need for a separate antivirus program.
If you are technically limited and just want a small laptop to do basic things, I would definitely recommend this model over any tablet. I have been using it for over a week and do not really have any major issues with it, but I do want to try the HP Stream before I decide to keep this one. The inability is run JAVA based streamers such as the stock screeners on Etrade is a big deal for me. In fact, I took off half a star on my rating because of it.
However, if you want to give the Acer 11 a try, my advice is to try to order it off of Amazon or register with Ebates and go to either Best Buy or Walmart from the Ebates site to get between 1% and 4% cashback on the order total.
Amazon Price: $199.99 $198.99 Buy Now
(price as of Jul 10, 2016)