Acer C7 Chromebook Review

Having used this little $199 machine as my only computer for over a week, I think it’s time to give my opinion on it. Since there is so much to say for the Chrome OS itself, which runs the Chromebook, I plan to do a separate longer review of the OS separately. This is strictly about the Acer C7. Here we go!

Body:

Having worked as a Tech Service guy at Office Depot, I have seen a LOT of netbooks, especially of the HP and Acer variety. So when I ordered this cheap 11.6 inch laptop, I had an idea of what it would feel like and how sturdy it would be:

Not very.

Actually, this was one of a few great surprises I experience when I opened the box. It doesn’t have the light, plastic feel of the other Acer netbooks. In fact it feels like a much more expensive machine! It has solid hinges that don’t feel like they will snap off if you close it too hard, and a sturdy bottom that sits strong on your lap while you work.

Screen:

The screen is an 11.6 inch display with 1366 x 768 resolution. The screen was another surprise. Unlike the usual netbook, the screen is bright with a glossy glass front. One of the things that bugs me the most about computers in this price range is the screen. I really like how glossy displays bring out rich color and blacks. This one does that. Some folks have said the glossy display is too reflective, but I haven’t had a problem with it. You probably won’t either, unless you are trying to work on your Chromebook on the beach. And if your ARE trying to use it the beach then may I suggest closing the computer and enjoying the vacation, man!

Keyboard:

Ah… The feature I was looking for most. This is by far the least expensive you will find a computer with a full-size keyboard. Period. The keyboard’s keys and layout are an almost exact replica of the current macbook keyboards. As a bonus it has Chrome-specific keys at the top, which include forward and back for webpages, page refresh, screen capture (fullscreen or, by holding shift, partial screen capture), full-screen, brightness adjustment, volume, and wifi settings. The web buttons like page back and refresh are especially helpful.

Trackpad:

Being a Mac-fan, I am VERY accustomed to multi-touch functions. Though this trackpad has a few (two-finger right click, and two-finger scrolling), It lacks pinch-to-zoom function, something that would be very welcome on a screen this small. Since it does have two-finger capability I don’t see why this can’t be added. This isn’t really an Acer C7 issue as much as a Chrome OS one. Until then, it does have the ctrl plus or minus to zoom. That works for now.

Battery:

This was almost the deal breaker. The battery capacity is atrocious! Especially when I’m so used to my Macbook air’s 8 to 9 hour battery-life. This only gets 4 hours! I did say almost the deal breaker because before selling my 1,400 dollar machine for this one I timed how much I usually work unplugged before mindlessly plugging into an outlet. Out of habit I plug in to the wall anytime I am home or at work, only using the battery at coffee shops and what-not. Surprisingly, I only actually used my Macbook unplugged for about 1 to 2 hours at a time. So far with the Acer, I haven’t actually drained the battery to a point of near shutdown yet. So it’s fine. And if it really becomes a problem, replaceable batteries (which snap in very quickly) are cheap and available. So before a trip you could take two or three theoretically. I don’t see a need though. Even coffee shops have outlets under the tables.

Ports, Camera, Speakers:

It come with a wide array of ports: full-size HDMI, 3 USB 3.0 ports, VGA, ethernet, and headphones. The HDMI has been useful. Too be honest, it’s the only one I’ve for anything other than just trying them out. The same goes for the speakers and camera. The camera is HD 720p and looks good, but I never use it. and the speakers aren’t worth much, but again I never use them. Everything rocks with headphones though!

Performance:

With an Intel Core chip, and 2 gb of ram, It’s actually been clocked a little faster than the $250 Samsung, which uses an Arm chip. There is also a 320 gb hard drive. I don’t really know why they decided to do that since the Chrome OS is designed for cloud computing. It’s nice to have but I haven’t really used it much, instead opting to store most things on Google Drive.

Verdict:

This is one happy user. I do have a few minor complaints about the OS. But the Acer C7 is a smashing deal. And at 1/8 the cost of my previous computer, It’s a great, minimalist no-frills option. It probably isn’t a great bet for users of Photoshop and Lightroom, but for the kind of computing that most of us do, it’s all you need.

Specs from www.google.com/chromebook

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