With the C720, Acer has fixed the most glaring issues of its previous generation of Chromebooks - most noticeably replacing the HDD with a SSD, decreasing the boot time to a mere 7 seconds, and upgrading the processor to a 4th generation power efficient Haswell processor, improving the battery life to an impressive 8 hours. With a $249 price tag, these specifications alone makes this a tempting buy, but let's look at some of the other factors first.
To keep a long story short, it's not great. Compared to the catchy design of the HP 11, Acer's Chromebook looks kind of ugly, It's all gray color scheme is pretty boring, and the bottom of the Chromebook is filled with vents (see picture above). That being said, it's not a bad design either. It's thin with a slightly tapered finish, and it's light and easy to hold. Looks aside, this Chromebook is perfectly functional and definitely an upgrade if you're coming from the previous generation. It's actually pretty sturdy - it doesn't bend easily and it seems like it can take a light beating. I've been traveling around with it and I don't feel it at all in my backpack.
The screen has a 1366x768 resolution with a matte finish. It has poor viewing angles, but it's perfectly fine if you're using the Chromebook alone. The keyboard works pretty well - if you're used to previous Chromebook keyboards or Apple keyboards, you'll be used to this one. Keep in mind that the caps lock key has been replaced by a `search' button, though you can always remap it in the settings if you miss it. The clickable touchpad also works well - it's surprisingly responsive and the 2 finger scrolling works well. You use a 2 finger click for right clicking, and you can also do a 3 finger swipe to switch tabs. The smoothness of the multi-touch capabilities really surprised me here. Also, regarding the webcam, it's exactly what you'd expect from a $250 laptop. It'll work well enough for Google Hangouts, but don't expect to look like a supermodel. However, it's definitely a bit better than the HP 11's webcam - it's not as grainy and it works a little bit better under low light situations. Speakers are also pretty loud for such a small notebook, but the sound quality is average.
This Chromebook also comes with a variety of input/output ports (1 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0, 1 HDMI, 1 SD, 1 Kensington lock, 1 Mic/Headphone), much more than the HP 11, and I've found the abundance of ports to be quite useful. Finally, note that there is a fan in this Chromebook, but it's barely noticeable: you have to lean in close and be in a quiet room before you can hear it.
This is where this Chromebook really shines. For $249, we're used to getting a sluggish computer, but that is not the case with this Chromebook. The Intel processor and a generous 4GB of RAM really shines here, and it shows in the performance. It can handle multiple tabs with no problem and runs 1080p videos and graphically heavy websites smoothly. Unlike the ARM based Chromebooks, there are no stutters or pauses which might distract you from your work and research. Once I used this Chromebook, it was really hard to go back to the HP 11. The battery life lasted around 8 hours for me, but the best part is that it only takes around 2 hours to fully charge, which is pretty fast in my opinion.
Acer C720 Chromebook Specifications:
|1.4GHz Intel Celeron 2955U|
|Operating System||Google Chrome|
RAM Upgradable to
Hard Drive Size
Hard Drive Speed
Hard Drive Type
|Secondary Hard Drive Size|
|Secondary Hard Drive Speed|
|Secondary Hard Drive Type|
|1136 x 768|
Optical Drive Speed
|Intel HD Graphics|
|Touchpad Size||3.7 x 2.1 inches|
Ports (excluding USB)
|HDMI; Headphone; Kensington Lock|
|SD memory reader|
|Size||11.34 x 8.03 x 0.75 inches|
All in all, I love Chromebooks because of their simplicity and speed. It works so well for those who just need to surf the web and do some basic writing or note taking and I'd recommend everyone to give it a try before dismissing the idea. You'd be surprised at how much we depend on the web these days. Personally, I've been waiting for a Chromebook which combines good battery life and performance with a decent design, and I think this model does just that (even if it falls a bit short on design). This would be the perfect model for those who prefer function over form, and for $249, it's an absolute bargain.