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on August 13, 2013
I bought this laptop for my Sister who is fairly computer illiterate, however I thought with a little time she would be able to figure it out. In addition, I wanted to check it out for myself being it is a new concept and being the nerdy IT guy in the family, I just had to fiddle with it. I like it! It does take some getting used to as others have mentioned (Touchpad is a learning curve, but nothing a usb mouse can't fix if your struggling). The laptop basically is a tablet that is much easier and faster to navigate and use(If your used to a PC). I chose the solid state drive because I thought the less moving parts the better and quieter. I haven't much time on it yet to give a really in depth review however I did come across a big problem with it after just one week that I wanted to share with everyone. The keyboard just stopped working out of the blue one day! Actually what occurred was the keys changed characters and you would get another letter when striking any key (ex. L would produce an R?)which unfortunately rendered the laptop completely useless. I could not troubleshoot it on my own even for a minute with this kind of problem. So I opted to reach out to Acer customer service via their on-line support chat. The support tech was nice however it seemed to me I just knew a little more about laptops than he did. Long story short, I had to put my 2 cents into the conversation in order for him to agree to offer something other than sending it back for repair. I was able to get them to provide a step by step re-load of the Chrome operating system which did fix the laptop! I have included those steps here in case anyone runs into a similar problem and does not want to send theirs back for repair. (See below:)

Additionally I have found that the laptop consistently loses the wifi connection and I have to restablish a connection often. I have had some issues with my wireless routers recently as well so this may be a mute point but I thought it was worth mentioning. All in all I like it so far and even though we've had some breaks along the way, they were fixable ones. It is working fine now and I would still reccommend the laptop for web surfing, FB, music & video streaming etc.

Here are the re-install steps from Acer support:

** One caveat is that I believe these steps below are specific to the solid state drive version and not a SATA drive version so please beware of your version beforehand!

The following steps outline how you reinstall Chrome OS by erasing the stateful partition:

1. Turn off your Chromebook.

2. Press and hold the esc key and refresh (F3) key and then press the power key to turn on the Chromebook.

3. The Chromebook will boot to Developer Mode. Press the ctrl key and the d key to turn off OS verification.

4. When prompted to turn OS verification off, press the enter key.

5. The Chromebook restarts.

6. At the OS verification is OFF screen, do not press the Spacebar. The recovery process will start automatically after approximately 15 seconds.

7. The Chromebook begins erasing the stateful partition. This process takes about 5 minutes. A progress bar appears at the top of the screen.

8. The Chromebook restarts and prompts to re-enable verification. Press the spacebar key.

9. Press the enter key to confirm you wish to turn OS verification on.

10. OS verification is back on and Chromebook reboots automatically.

11. The "Welcome!" screen will be displayed and you can complete the OOBE.
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on August 1, 2013
Update, December 2013: at this point, almost all users should get the Acer C720 Chromebook instead of any of the C710 models.

Update: the Acer C710-2833 is being replaced by the Acer C710-2834. Go there for the $199 machine sold by Amazon! (If the shipping delay on the 2834 is too long, and the cost of the 2833 is over $199 at Amazon, note that Best Buy and Newegg still have the 2833 for $199.)

Thank goodness---Amazon is finally offering the Acer C7 directly at the canonical $199 price! I'm moving my big Acer C7 review (with the appropriate new information for the changed hard drive) from its original home at Acer C7 C710-2847 Chromebook.

Executive summary: $199 is a great price. Chrome OS is quite an interesting and enjoyable computing environment which serves a wide range of needs (close to all of my family's computer use for sure). The Acer C7's performance is noticeably better than that of the $249 Samsung ARM Chromebook for certain things, notably 720p video and Flash games. Plus, the Acer can be opened up and upgraded, unlike the Samsung. Along with "cheaper" those are basically the only areas in which the Acer beats the Samsung, but those made my decision for me. The major flaws of the Acer C7 are the tiny hard-to-use cursor keys, and the downright horrible speakers; the major flaws of Chrome OS, for me, are local network file access and limited supported media formats. Those are significant problems, but for $199 they are not showstoppers.

I'm quite fond of my Acer C7 Chromebook. The overwhelming feature is the price. $199!

Chrome OS offers a zero-maintenance solution to having a second computer around for family members who essentially only need a web browser anyway. I've come to really enjoy using it. I enjoy knowing that I will never need to provide much tech support for it.

A potential buyer of the Acer C7 might also be considering the $249 Samsung ARM Chromebook. I think the Samsung Chromebook is substantially more beautiful, has no fan, and has a much better keyboard and speaker. However, it is underpowered. At Best Buy I was able to try them side by side. The Acer was able to handle 720p video from YouTube almost (though not quite) perfectly; on the Samsung dropped frames were much more noticeable. I also tried a Flash game, Bloons Tower Defense 5, which I've noticed is surprisingly stressful for my older laptops. It runs fine on the Acer C7, but is very choppy on the Samsung. Finally, it is easy (if potentially warranty-breaking) to expand the RAM on the Acer C7 up to 16GB (!), and even to replace the hard drive (probably not necessary for most users). The Samsung ARM Chromebook is essentially impossible to upgrade. That, for me, was the clincher.

The Acer C7, though not actually ugly, is not a particularly pretty machine. The plastic around the display has a particularly cheap look-and-feel. The hinge at least feels strong. The display itself is reasonably nice, with a decent viewing angle. It's glossy.

I do not like the keyboard. I think overall it's not a great keyboard (especially compared to the Samsung ARM Chromebook which has a lovely pleasant-to-use keyboard). The really awful thing is the cursor keys, which are startlingly small and also scrunched up with the page up and down keys. It is really, really unpleasant to use the cursor keys on this keyboard. There are other oddities, if not real problems. The Enter key is oddly shaped for no apparent reason other than gratuitous ugliness. The keyboard has a Fn key, the only purpose of which is to have a Wifi-Disable keypress Fn-F11 (did anyone really need that?) and to send function keys over Chrome Remote Desktop (I suppose someone might need that---but I regret having a whole key for it in prime territory). This keyboard puts extra Chrome OS Search keys down with the Control and Alt keys, which is unusual in Chrome OS devices, but it does work to my benefit as it sends Command to Macs over Chrome Remote Desktop. In case it helps anyone, right-Control also sends Command.

I like the Chrome OS keys for back, forward, refresh, full screen, and next window.

The touchpad is quite a bit more resistant to clicking than I would like. I use tap-to-click instead, but there's no tap-only variant of click-and-drag. (I want the 3-finger drag from Apple.)

I often use this Chromebook attached to an external display (and keyboard and mouse... think of it as a desktop replacement!). When I first posted this review I mentioned some issues with this configuration. A Chrome OS update in mid-February 2013 fully resolved these issues for me. The OS auto-update feature is delightful, by the way, automatic and non-intrusive.

With an external Mac keyboard, Command sends Control, which is great for someone whose hands are used to Mac key shortcuts.

The absolute worst thing about the Acer C7 is the speakers. They are bad. Really, really, bad. They're quiet and tinny and I can hardly stand to listen to them. I'm no audiophile, either---I think almost anyone who uses this machine will cringe a little bit at the sound quality. Was this really necessary to hit this price point? Be prepared to use headphones or external speakers. (And not Bluetooth external speakers... I'm told they are not supported in Chrome OS at all, and this machine doesn't have Bluetooth anyway.)

The fan is audible. Not awful, but this is no silent machine.

This newer Acer C7 C710-2833 has a 16GB SSD instead of the old 320GB spinning hard drive. This is a good thing---many users will see more benefits from a small fast silent SSD than from a big slow noisy hard drive! Some thoughts in case you're worried about little disk space: As far as I can tell the only filesystem access you get is your Downloads folder. Which the OS is allowed to clear at will to free up space! Chrome OS was designed for minimal local storage, and frankly I don't see how much more space will ever be that useful. I suppose there's the "load it up with movies before the car trip" argument. But in general I think most users will benefit more from a silent, fast, tiny SSD for normal use; you can bring your movies on an external hard drive.

I wish it had USB 3.0. Oh well. (Another point in favor of the Samsung ARM Chromebook, there.)

On to software. You can use the Web. You can get a terminal with Control-Alt-T and use ssh (but no real local shell). Chrome Remote Desktop is entirely usable. Google Cloud Print seems to work fine, for those of us who have an always-on computer around anyway. Offline Gmail and Google Docs are great if you sometimes lack internet access. Flash games work fine. Google Hangouts has a dumb name but is a fantastic videoconferencing product (the camera and microphone are fine).

While I'm on Chrome Remote Desktop: You'll want to right-click the app icon to get it to "open as window", because if it opens as a tab Chrome itself will consume keypresses like control-N and control-W instead of sending them to the remote host.

One thing that is lacking is the ability is access network file storage. We have an always-on computer filled with video and audio and I'd like to be able to access those files conveniently. What I've done that's workable is started an FTP server on that machine. But it's not a great interface, and each file has to be downloaded before playing, rather than being streamed. "Sneakernet" via USB drive works fine too of course. I think there is pay software, like TVersity, that will set up a media server for you with a nice HTTP interface, but I haven't tried it. And I wish this was built in.

Media playing is a mixed bag. This is irritating... why can't every computer just come with a player as nearly universal as VLC? I haven't had trouble with audio; it seems to play my various mp3, m4a, flac, and wav files just fine. Video is trickier. It seems to play mp4 files happily. It will play some avi files, but not others. Wmv files don't work. For the somewhat technically proficient: you can convert to Chromebook-playable MP4 using various products, like Handbrake or VLC, or the command-line tool ffmpeg: "ffmpeg -i file.avi -c copy file.mp4", "ffmpeg -i file.avi -qscale 5 -strict -2 file.mp4", and "ffmpeg -i file.wmv -qscale 2 file.mp4" are three simple sets of options I've found useful. Frankly having to learn about ffmpeg is, again, irritating; this should just work.

You can enter Developer Mode using a particular keystroke during bootup. This gives you a root shell which potentially allows all kinds of fun. It also wipes all storage in your "stateful partition", so don't do this after filling up your hard drive with things you want (generally unlikely). The wiping also happens on leaving Developer Mode. Developer Mode also makes Netflix stop working. After playing with this for a bit I decided I didn't really need it. I like that it's there... the principle of the device being unlocked is pleasing to me. But in the end the clean, minimal, just-works built-in Chrome OS is essentially what I want from this machine.

Conclusion: At higher prices Chrome OS is an oddball. At $199 Chrome OS is a remarkable new paradigm in computing. It's pleasant to use, and for $199, the various hardware and software flaws aren't bad enough to give me much pause. In fact, for $199, if you're at all tempted, you might as well buy it and see for yourself. A reason to pause would be to consider the $249 Samsung ARM Chromebook, which has significantly better aesthetics and might be a better choice for some people. For me, the Acer C7's better performance for 720p video and Flash gaming, plus the ability to upgrade memory and hard drive, makes it the winner.
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on August 18, 2013
The Acer Chromebook is great as an alternate computer. I've had it for about a week now and there have been zero issues. It runs fast, the keyboard is great, and the touchpad is nice. I use this mainly as a second machine. I have a desktop and this ifs great to use while on the go or if I don't want to go and sit at my desk. Please be aware of what you are buying before you buy it is important. This is NOT a full blown computer. You cannot get Microsoft word on it or any other software outside of the google store.
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on September 16, 2013
I received my Acer Chromebook and just as others have noted, it's easy start-up and seemed to be just what I wanted - to be used mostly for internet purposes and to avoid having to lug my MacBook Pro around with me all of the time. In only a couple of weeks, it has become mostly a dust-catcher. Every time it goes to sleep or I wander awa for 10 minutes it loses the internet connection and it cannot be reconnected unless it is powered down and re-started. Now I know it isn't a hardware problem, because I now find out Chrome has had this problem for a couple of years now, whether Acer or not. I'm pretty angry. It may be inexpensive, but $200 is significant money to me. This is supposed to be a simple-to-use option. After going to the kitchen for a cup of coffee I've often lost the connection. Sigh. Turn it off, turn it back on. So frustrating. I've spent considerable time on the net trying to find a fix (which even if it had worked I should not have to do) and tried everything that I found suggested. No luck. People who are not techies should be able to use this and Google should have addressed it by now. Of course, not everyone has the issue. But do a search on the topic and you'll see it is not uncommon.
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on September 6, 2013
I currently own a Lenovo G570 Laptop that i love, and a Windows Surface RT tablet but this Acer Chromebook is by far my favorite device. It turns on automatically when you open the lid and within 6 to 8 seconds your at the desktop. It also came with 100gb free storage on google drive for 2 years, so that is a big bonus. I like how since it has a Solid state drive i can carry it around and pick it up and set it down without worrying about messing up a hard drive. The Chrome operating system is sooo simple to use as well, unlike my Surface RT, I absolutely hate the windows RT operating system. I was slightly worried about the fan always running and being loud but i have only noticed it when Chrome was doing a system update. I was also worried that it was going to feel really cheap and flex alot as the CNET review mentions, but I personally dont think it feels cheap at all.

If i had to say anything negative about it, it would be the lack of an optical drive, but Its not that big of a deal as i rarely need one. I wanted to go with the Samsung Chromebook as i like that brand better, but i was too worried about all the reports of the screen breaking for no reason that i decided on this one, and I am really glad i did.
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on August 19, 2013
Have had this laptop for over a month. My online classes work great on this and every paper I write is done in Google docs which is awesome. If u have to look at flash based web pages, this one is for u. The Samsung is arm based so it is like a big tablet which means u cant look at adobe flash content. This one works great!
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on August 23, 2013
This computer is incredibly stable. I have six windows computers in the house, as well as 2 ipads. What I've noticed is how incredibly stable this machine is. You can have 6 tabs open, close the cover, and flip it back open hours later. It jumps instantly back to life, and rarely has anything crashed. I guess getting rid of all the bloat has advantages.

One can actually further trim the machine by erasing extensions for anything you don't use often. (And if you change your mind, the OS makes it easy to restore.)

For $200, you get a really fun little machine. The screen is also beautiful. And the computer is zippy fast, especially after I removed the extensions I did not need.
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on August 19, 2013
I had 2 old (5 yrs) macbooks bite the dust the same week. I needed something for my girlfriend to use at home, stat. Picked this up with low expectations, and it's been a relatively great little piece of tech. I waited until this SSD version became available - no need for an hdd on this device. We already used chrome apps and sync, so it was a pretty smooth transition. Being Mac users, I thought we'd miss many apps and all the nice UI points we're used to. In practice, I only miss my mac keyboard, 1password, and textexpander. There are things that the chromebook isn't made for; like adobe creative suite; video editing, any document work that isn't google docs friendly, and coding (although you can run a shell in chrome and code in the cloud).

But the biggest surprise was how well this little guy handles the most common internet activities. It performs great for time on social networks, email, banking, writing, blogging, watching videos (this unit handles Netflix out of the box), and plugging into the TV via hdmi and watching videos (easier than the mac). It's biggest downsides for us are no skype (google hangouts are better anyway, but when your friends or clients are on skype, it's a pain), no GoTo Meeting (or any java apps), no dropbox (web viewer can cut it for some stuff), and the lack of some apps we've become accustomed to (Keynote, Tweetbot, Evernote app, etc.).

All in all it's amazing that you get a fully usable laptop for 80-99% of what you need for so little. It would take 3 of these to buy one iPhone!
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on August 19, 2013
I purchased mine from another store, but its the best thing in computing. Its fast, reliable, easy to use. I am able to hear my music, watch movies, edit documents, the 16GB SSD is all you need. I really don't know, why other people are giving it such bad review. This chromebook for the price of $199.00 is a steal. I can work off-line, I can do pretty much everything, I usually do.

It really hasn't damper my use of a laptop. The keys are sturdy. The screen is bright, the font are good. I usually use headphone to listen and watch my movies. So the sound is over all good. It doesn't drop my internet connection. I don't have to wait minutes for it to boot up. Everything is always working right and it has great speed.

I just love it.
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on November 13, 2013
I never write reviews but this laptop has been great and will probably end up buying more. I bought this for one of our kids that kept using our laptops for papers for school. They use Google Docs at their school so I figured this would work and couldn't beat the price. Set up was a breeze. Printing is very easy and have had no problems. Printing is with Cloud Print which may sound like it would be different but it isn't and is super easy. I actually set up a couple printers for her and it works great. The internet is FAST. I have a $800 Samsung tablet/laptop and the Chromebook is so much faster. I have even asked her if she wants to trade but she won't. Her internet goes faster than any laptop we have at home. The only thing I had to look up was that there isn't a "right click" function on it like Windows. I went to the help area on Google and got the answer right away. So easy. I like to edit pictures and make photo books of the kids and trips so I have a program I like a lot and figured there wasn't anyway I could do it on the Chromebook. I tried it out one day, since my computer is so slow. I looked in the Google store. Found one that was free and tried it. It was very easy to figure out and edited the pictures quickly. I store my photos on 1 TB portable hard drive and the Chromebook had no problem reading it. I seem to be the "go to" person at home if any of the kids have questions about anything on the computer because my husband doesn't like to deal with computers (still won't set up voice mail on his phone). I have had to work with the kid's I phone, I touches, Android tablets, Windows tablets, and Windows laptops. I still haven't figured out ITunes but this Chromebook is by far the easiest operating system I have worked on. My Dad was even going to buy one after playing on it. If you are thinking of getting one for internet surfing, writing papers, and even photos, this is perfect. It does have games but I don't play them so I really can't give any feed back on that. Oh, they do watch Netflix and Xfinity on Demand and it works great.
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