on December 13, 2013
I have an Acer C720 ($199) and an Acer C720P ($299) and both are amazing machines. If you dont mind plunking down the extra $100 for the touchscreen then go for it but really you will do fine without it and save yourself $100 especially if you are buying these as gifts like I did for others in my family.
Here is a list of the APPS I use on both and it runs them fast and flawlessly:
Facebook, Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs, Chrome Remote Desktop (flawlessly connects to my Windows 7 laptop and I can run any windows program remotely with ease and flawlessly connects to my Office Desktop and I can access all my office records which is key since i am a family doc), Google Cloud Print (easily prints documents to all the printers i have set up), MyBible, Kindle, Twitter, Hootsuite, Weatherbug, Netflix, Pandora, YouTube, Google+ photos (automatically puts all my photos taken on my Iphone over to my chromebook), RUNS ALL WEBSITES INCLUDING BANKING WEBSITES and my mobile hospital app FLAWLESSLY WITH CHROME (including adobe flash player sites which my Ipad and Iphone still wont run)
The only CONS i can find so far are no SKYPE app.....If you want to do video calls then need to use GOOGLE HANGOUTS which is much less intuitive than skype....and you CANNOT hook a printer directly to a chromebook but you can use google cloud print to print easily...needs wifi connection to do most things (this is really not a problem for me as i am always connected and they have developed a number of apps that work when not connected including document writer and email offline
Battery Life Amazing! almost 8hrs of use!
Touchscreen good but not like an Ipad (can't use your fingers to zoom in with pinch)
Touchpad very good! (and really dont need the touchscreen because touchpad works so good)
Keyboard very solid,
Can use any wireless mouse with it. (Ipad still cant utilize a mouse)
Screen brightness great.
Sound adequate but a bit tinny
USB port charges devices and can use flash drives to move and transfer files (another thing I still cant do with my Ipad)
2 years free of 100GB Google Drive (this saves you $120 right there)
12 free wifi passes while on planes (i dont fly much but still a nice convenience and saves you the $10 or so connection fee)
Free virus protection
All in all a great economical way to access the internet with ease and lightning speed and do 95% of what most people use a personal computer for this day and age.
on December 26, 2013
I got my first Chromebook about six months ago, it was Samsung series 3 with an ARM processor. Initially it meant to serve me as a second laptop for occasional light work online, but very soon I realized that I was using it most of the time. My powerful Windows laptop and Mac mini were just sitting there collecting dust, getting my attention only once a week at best. I replaced my Samsung with Acer C720 2 GB RAM version two weeks ago.
Here's a quick breakdown.
- C720 has a slightly better screen than Samsung. Same washed out colors, but contrast and viewing angles are better, and so is brightness level. If you are spoiled by the screens of modern tablets, you might think that 1366x768 resolution would look unattractive. That's not quite right. I should remind you that MacBook Air 11 screen has the same resolution and the same size. It's just enough to do what it's designed to do.
- The keyboard layout of C720 may not be as good as Samsung's, but I like Acer's feel and key movement better. Unless you have very large hands, it might provide one of the best typing experiences in the price range below $300, and it's definitely better than most Windows laptops for that price. I write quite a lot and C720's keyboard didn't cause any significant discomfort so far. Touchpad is reasonably good, but nothing to be overexcited about. I only wish it was a bit larger.
- C720 is WAY faster than Samsung. Don't be deceived by the name of the processor - this Celeron unit from the Haswell family has more processing power than Chrome OS requires. And 2 GB of RAM should be absolutely enough for anyone, who normally doesn't keep over a dozen tabs running heavy websites simultaneously. The fan would kick in from time to time, but it's very quiet and is never annoying. Boot time is typically impressive for Chrome OS devices and takes around 7 seconds.
- Battery life is one of the sweetest spots of this laptop. To get promised 8.5 hours you don't have to keep the screen brightness at 50% all the time (as you would do with the Samsung to get 6.5 hours). I don't carry the charger with me and never managed to make it run out of juice. In fact, sometimes I would even give some boost to my phone's battery from C720 without worrying that it may die unexpectedly. Also, the battery charges pretty quickly.
- Speakers of C720 are louder than Samsung's, but they don't sound much better - they shoot down at the table (or your lap) and don't really promise anything. But plug in headphones or external speakers and you'll get some decent sound quality for a low budget device.
- The Web Camera on C720 is also superior to the one in Samsung. Promised difference in resolution might not be that visible, but it keeps higher framerate, works better in low light and seems like it captures a wider viewing angle. It is definitely an upgrade. Microphone gets the job done, but it's not very useful in somewhat noisy environment.
- C720 is a little bit heavier than Samsung, but by no means it is heavy or bulky. It is still a portable laptop that could be easily moved or carried with one hand. Its build quality is better than most Windows laptops below $350. Obviously, there's nothing special about the quality of materials, but everything feels solid, the lid mechanism is sturdy enough, and overall it's not bad at all. It certainly lacks some style, but it looks and feels more expensive than it costs.
I love Chromebooks for the ease of use. The first set up takes about five minutes. They are perfect for kids, for elderly people unfamiliar with computers, for students, for writers, bloggers or even programmers. It's amazing how much stuff can be done in a browser. Online shopping, social networking, managing emails, listening to music, watching movies, reading books, video chatting - everything that most casual users actually do on their computers and even more. Offline capabilities are not forgotten - you can watch movies from the local or external storage, listen to music, work with Google Docs and many other Chrome apps or even games that can run offline. One of the greatest things about Chrome OS - there is virtually no maintenance. You have to try really hard to make it work wrong. Updates are seamless and a complete reset of the system with the Powerwash, in case you want to give it away or sell it, takes just few minutes.
I was skeptical when the idea of a Chromebook was introduced to the public. But when I tried one myself and gave it a proper open-minded shot, I wasn't able to go back. Today Acer C720 is my daily driver and I would change it only to a better Chromebook. For $199 it's almost impossible to beat its value. Don't forget, that with the purchase you also get 100 GB of Google Drive space for 2 years. And if you like touchscreens, C720p for $299 is also a very good deal.
on December 19, 2013
I'm a technology addict and I've been following the development of ChromeOS for a while. When it first came out, I totally understood the concept but wanted to wait for it to mature a while and the prices to come down. My trigger price point was $200 so when the 2GB version of C720 came out, I had to have one.
I find it amazing that such an inexpensive device can do so much. After having it a week, it became my favorite machine just because it is so simple and light. After using it, you come to question why we need such big computing power, huge hard discs and RAM just to run a traditional OS when it comes to supporting the use cases for about 90% of what you use a PC to do. Whats even better, the Chromebook is pretty much ready to go out of the box, with an already pretty rich supply of online an offline apps don't cost you anything extra.
Just like tablets came on the market and turned the PC industry upside down because they did 80% of a PC did, and did it with a better user experience, lower price with much less hardware spec. In the same way, I think the Chromebook will have a permanent place in personal tech as the one matching basic needs at the cheapest price - a second PC for around the home, or the "throwaway" unit for travel where you don't have to worry about damaging or losing it because its both cheap and highly secure.
Specific to the C720 - I agree with most that the screen could be much better but it is still quite acceptable considering the price. The trackpad and the keyboard as well - I have no trouble using them and the trackpad is actually better than many more expensive PCs. I think the build quality is actually quite good - it looks professional and robust enough so that it can survive a road warrior's abuse.
The 2GB ram is also the best value in my opinion. I've read a comparison report that showed that the 4GB really has no advantage until you open up 15-20 tabs at once, anything less than that the performance is identical. My own experience (I usually open up only 5 to 10 tabs at once) is that browsing performance is excellent - comparable to my 2013 MacBook Air with 8GB RAM that cost 5x the price.
First, the hardware.
I have two Macbook Pro machines (a 2009 and a 2010 model), so I have relatively high standards. This is not Apple quality, but it is superior to most cheap Windows machines and far superior to netbook machines.
The overall build is 4-star. The keyboard is decent, and short of being backlit, it is almost on-par with Apple's chicklet keyboard. Vs Apple's chicklet keyboard, it has slightly less travel and a different texture, but it is very usable.
The machine itself is solid: it doesn't flex and creak like most cheap machines. It is quite rigid and feels solid for a plastic notebook. It isn't as ugly as photos lead you to believe.
The trackpad is nice. It is not as flawless as an Apple trackpad, but is responsive and works well. It supports two-finger scrolling (windows-style or "natural"). It also supports navigating forward and back with two fingers, although this gesture is definitely less responsive than with Apple's trackpad. The whole trackpad is a button, just like a Mac. You can choose whether to tap-to-click, or not.
The big (huge) weakness is the display. Resolution isn't horrible compared to a non-retina Mac, but contrast is pretty bad. Unless you tilt the C720's screen perfectly, contrast is abysmal. I would gladly have paid more if it had a better display. It is the one thing that makes me regret this purchase, even at the low price.
Battery life is great. I used this machine earlier this week with streaming music in the background and working on documents for work. It had 20% left after 7 hours.
As is clearly stated in the description, this machine contains an OS that simply runs Google Chrome. You can get a great idea of what works and what does not by simply testing tasks in Google Chrome on a Mac, PC, or Linux box.
It is surprising what can be done with just a browser. It isn't perfect, but you can do a lot.
Below are some of my normal tasks, and how well they can be accomplished with the Chromebook C720.
Browsing: flawless. It is full-featured Google Chrome, and it is fast and responsive. It doesn't choke on any web sites or even web apps that I have found. It can handle ten tabs easily (2gb model).
Creating simple MS office documents: decent. It can create basic office documents (docs, spreadsheets, presentations) and export them for use in MS office.
Editing simple Microsoft Office files: fair. It works with simple spreadsheets and documents. It can "view" simple Powerpoint files.
It isn't great at handling complex MS office files with lots of formatting. You can probably get by in a pinch, but you will occasionally struggle and there are files you will encounter that just won't work at all.
I do not have a subscription to the new "MS Office 365" cloud apps, so I can't speak to how well it handles them. If it works as well as Apple's cloud office apps, you should have no problems with Office 365.
Edited to add: I tried Microsofts free trial of Office 365. Chrome's web office apps are just as powerful as Microsoft's web apps (though Apple iWork web apps are more powerful than both). The big difference between Microsoft web apps and Chrome web apps is the interface. The MS Office 365 interface is similar to modern MS Office with the big toolbar at the top. Google Chrome web office app interface is simpler and more like Office '97. Neither are super-powerful and I actually prefer Google Chrome's we apps to Microsoft's web apps. The Chrome apps make better use of screen real estate. Neither of them can display heavy formatting found in complex documents.
Apple iWork files (Pages, Keynote, and Numbers): great, using Apple's iWork for iCloud. iCloud will warn you that the browser is not supported, but it works great. It works just as well as it does using Chrome or Safari on a Mac. It can't import your iWork files into the offline software, so Apple iWork is a cloud-only online-only option.
Amazon Prime Video: failure. It simply does not work at this time (12/7/13)
Edited to add: now Amazon Prime Video works fine. ??? Perhaps Amazon had some issue or the machine updated itself, but it works fine now.
Netflix: works great.
Network storage using the file manager: failure. There is no way to easily connect to my home NAS server or shared folders on other machines on the network using the file manager.
NAS access using the browser interface: great. I have a Synology Diskstation NAS. I can watch movies, play music, and download files using the web-based interface just fine.
VPN access: failed (using my work VPN). It does have a VPN setup built in, but doesn't work with my company VPN. My company VPN works fine on iPhone, iPad, and almost any computer. This is a big drawback that Google needs to fix.
Printing: decent. I have an HP printer that is fully supported and it prints great (HP Officejet 7500). HP "eprint" printers have an email address and you just give the C720 this address for printer access. I have heard that it struggles with some printers, but I can't speak to it. The print command brings up a dialog to export your file/image/webpage/etc as a PDF file by default.
Photo viewing/editing: very mixed, and mostly awful when offline. One reason I wanted this device was to carry with me along with my camera to view photos on the go. It does have a full-size SD slot (though the card protrudes from the machine and can't be left in the slot for long). The built-in offline image "editor" is a joke. It can only view files fitted to the screen. It can do extremely simple tasks like cropping and brightness adjustment, and that's it. You can't even zoom in on an image to inspect it closely with the built-in photo app. With difficulty, I found an offline image editor app called "Pixir Touch Up" that does a much better job, and will allow you to zoom in on images from your SD card, but it isn't much better than the stock app. Pixir does offer a very full-featured online photo editor that is on-par with Gimp and others. Remember, the display isn't great and isn't ideal for inspecting photos. An iPad and an EyeFi card (or iPad camera connection kit) are a much better choice for toting along on a photography adventure. Even though the display is poor, it's too bad that Google did such a lousy job with the photo app.
Google Chromecast: great! It works well with my Chromecast. It works just as well as when using Chrome on my Mac.
Ease of use: decent. If you already have Chrome on a Mac/Linux/PC, you know how to use it. All of you settings, bookmarks, and everything else in Chrome on a Mac just downloads right into the Chromebook.
Google Drive storage: fantastic! This machine includes 100GB of Google Drive storage. Google charges $5/month for this great service and Dropbox charges twoce as much for similar service. I am Going to cancel my 100GB Dropbox and save $10/month for two years, which essentially makes this machine free. If you don't know about syncing files between your computers using Google Drive, you need to check it out. It is a bargain at $5, and a steal when free with a usable computer.
The machine itself with the current software is a three star item, but it is a great value. It isn't as high-quality as a Macbook or a modern tablet, but it is so cheap that it should be a consideration if you simply cannot afford a high-end machine, or you need a backup machine. It is better than many Windows machines I have used that cost more than twice as much. It would be 4-star-plus with a better display, better file manager, better network support, and better photo viewer/editor. Hopefully Google keeps working on it and eventually upgrades the weaknesses in the software.
on May 29, 2014
So far, I'm very impressed with this computer. For $200, it's really hard to complain. It's fast, it's snappy, and it gets the job done.
1.) Chrome OS is simplistic and fast.
2.) Great Battery Life
3.) Strong Wifi Signal (Both 2.4ghz and 5ghz)
4.) Can do just about anything on it...(Especially after installing Ubuntu)
5.) Keyboard works well with my fat fingers
1.) Google (Not a big deal, but it is to some people)
2.) Chrome OS is very limited
3.) Screen could be better and brighter
As I stated in my title, you can get Skype up and running on it with in about 45 minutes of receiving your chromebook. Do some research on Crouton. It will allow you to run Ubuntu simultaneously with Chrome OS, which greatly improves what you can do with this machine online and offline. Once you have Ubuntu running, you can install Skype...and it does work! In fact, I haven't found anything that doesn't quite work with it yet....Well, I guess Microsoft office, but there are programs out there that are practically the same...for instance, Openoffice.
Need proof on Skype, just leave a comment. Questions, feel free to ask.
on January 31, 2014
I find the Acer C720 Chromebook is the best combination of price, quality, speed, and battery life among the several Chromebooks on the market. It serves a introduction to computing for new users and as a good traveling computer for PC users. Acer and YouTube have many tutorials on the features and use of Chromebooks. Check these out before you buy.
Tablets and Chromebooks are similar in a lot of ways. They are primarily for online use, they have very short boot up times, they don't drain much power in standby mode, and the price range is about the same. My Acer C720 boots in less than 10 seconds and goes several days in standby without a recharge. and cost $200. My Nexus 10 cost $400. Both tablets and Chromebooks require much less upkeep than a PC, for things like backup and virus protection. And the complexity is much reduced from that of a PC. There are fewer options, so there is less confusion in learning how to accomplish the tasks you want to do on a computing device. And, every hacker is not trying to download stuff on your device that you don't want. So when you evaluate a Chromebook, compare it more to a tablet rather than a PC.
Where Chromebooks and tablets differ is in productivity. Tablets have a touchscreen and apps which are convenient for consuming information, but the browsers are substandard compared to a PC, and there is no real keyboard for data entry. In that respect, Chromebooks are much more like a PC. For new users contemplating buying a PC, a Chromebook is a much shorter path to learning how to use a PC, than a tablet. For less than half the price of a PC a Chromebook is a cheap and easy way to get into computing, and it may be all that a lot of people will ever need.
The Chromebook can be set up to do the same things you can do on a PC with the Google Chrome browser. However, it's not limited to Google applications, only applications that work within the Chrome browser. Any web application that works in the PC Chrome browser works on a Chromebook. For example, Microsoft SkyDrive, Netflix, Spotify, Pandora, RSS readers, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, gmail, Outlook mail, etc, all work in the Chrome browser so they also work on a Chromebook just like they work on a PC. This is not true of tablets. Tablet apps are configured differently from PC applications.
If you're using the Chrome browser now on your PC you know that it has many extensions like Add This sharing, Readability, Hangouts, free Google phone calling, etc. These are all available on the Chromebook. As a PC user, my Chromebook fits my particular needs much better than my Nexus 10 tablet. About the only thing I use my Nexus 10 for now are things like Hangouts, and other casual activities that don't require input.
on January 11, 2015
Bought this for my daughter for Christmas. As of today, it has a cracked screen. Screen on the C710 and C720 series apparently have a stress point that will eventually cause the screen to crack just by opening and closing the lid. And... when you have a daughter that carries it around like a personal buddy, it's going to happen sooner rather than later. I have researched this and there are hundreds of cases of the 'spontaneous' cracking screen. Of course, it's your fault as no manufacturer (including Acer) will acknowledge that they may have under-engineered the portable device for 'portable' use, but that aside, it is what it is. I'm contacting Amazon today to see about returning the product. Funny thing is, I bought a protective case for this since it was so light and thin. Guess that's a wasted purchase as well considering that there's not a scratch on this thing. Perfect... flawless, no dings, no drops, no scratches... just a cracked screen with no apparent damage other than if you open and shut the lid with your LEFT hand from the upper left corner of the screen, it will eventually snap internally and crack the screen.
Short of the screen crack, loved the unit itself. Performs as expected and runs as it should. Good battery life... just a horribly designed screen that will eventually crack spontaneously.
on October 8, 2014
I am an IT Technician for a smaller school district and felt I had to review this product... We needed about 400 chromebooks for our district, and chose the Acer over the Samsung because we felt this one seemed sturdier (while the Samsung XE303 seemed a little flimsy). While that is true, the quality control seems to be terrible. After about a month of use, we have sent at least 15 almost-new chromebooks in for repair already. We ordered a large batch of Samsungs last year and only had 1 or 2 that were defective. Issues with the Acers center mostly on the screen backlight, with several other issues as well.
In addition, we have found that Acer's customer support is frustrating to deal with as well (which seems to be located overseas!) They rarely offer to pay the shipping for the defective chromebook repair, and are just a pain to deal with in general. In contrast, Samsung has excellent customer service with clear-speaking representatives and will pay the shipping both ways without question.
In summary, while the Acers seem sturdier, the Samsungs seem to be more reliable overall, and have much better warranty support.
on December 25, 2013
My laptop experience is quite disappointing.
After an Acer laptop lasting 2 years, a Toshiba lasting another 3, and some cheap HP lasting 6 weeks (no joke), I ponied up the cash and bought a Macbook. Surely that was my problem all along, and I would be happy like everyone else. I even put the apple stickers on my car. That $1300 laptop lasted 1 1/2 years. I'm sure I got a lemon, but it had been giving me problems from day one, and finally it just yielded up its expensive spirit.
I couldn't justify buying yet another $1300 laptop, but PC's are no better and I really hate Windows.
So I decided to get a cheap chromebook, just to get me through the post-holiday financial dry spell and to buy me some time to decide which costly, crappy road I should take - PC or Mac?
My chromebook arrived in the mail in one day. My expectations were fairly low. I had already used chrome for just about everything. There are just a few programs I use, like excel, but by some fortuitous chance, my company actually switched to a cloud-based accounting program instead of excel. There's actually nothing (right now) that I need another laptop for.
As others have noted, the case does feel a little cheap. That's probably the only downside. The set up feels very, very user-friendly (if you've been using chrome, then this laptop already feels made just for you!).
It's super fast, too. When you open the screen, boom. There's your stuff. Are you ADHD like me and you can't focus on 2 or 3 tabs at a time? No problemo. Open up all 12, you multi-tasker. And if you honestly feel like this portal to the land of all-knowingness slows down when you do that, then be reasonable and work with fewer tabs.
There aren't a whole lot of bells and whistles. If you want to watch cute kitty and puppy videos on youtube, this is your machine. If you need top of the line graphics, keep looking. If you want a loud, bulky, hot laptop, also, keep looking.
This thing charges FAST! And the battery life is 10-14 hours on a full charge. Go ahead, pick your jaw up off the floor. I was amazed, too.
Overall, if you need a quick little machine that's cute and tiny like a tablet but functional like a laptop, this is your deal. It's also not a bad idea to have if you transport a nice, expensive laptop back and forth from work, school, whatever. You'll probably feel a lot less heartbroken if this one bites the dust!
on January 18, 2014
I've had my chromebook for a couple weeks now and it's just the perfect thing for me. I'm not a gamer and I'm not a customization-obsessed geek, I'm just an average computer user who likes to surf the net, process photos, do a little word processing and spreadsheet action, stream videos, read some books.
It's true that without wifi access it's kind of a doorstop, but not entirely. You can still work on documents or spreadsheets, respond to emails (although you can't send them until wifi is restored) and play a wide variety of simple offline games when there's no internet. You can plug in a USB and watch a movie, if you planned ahead.
The thing charges completely in less than 2 hours and my experience has been that it holds a charge anywhere between 5.5 and 11 hours depending on what you are doing. If you are steadily streaming one video after another, it's closer to 5.5 hours; if you're just web surfing and reading articles, it lasts much longer. I LOVE how fast it boots up and shuts down. I love that there is virtually no lag, ever, when I want to stream videos or music, and that pages load super-fast, even with a couple of dozen tabs open.
The size is perfect for me - the keyboard is ever so slightly smaller than a normal keyboard, but it is close enough that I don't really have to alter my typing at all to use it. I had an Eee before and the keys were too small and it slowed me down, but that is not a problem with the chromebook. The screen is big enough to be pleasant watching movies and to easily view webpages without having to scroll all over, but the chromebook is small and light enough for me to put in my purse to carry with.
I was torn between buying a chromebook or a tablet, but I am so glad I went with the chromebook. When I want to type, I want to REALLY type - and doing anything longer than a Twitter update on a tablet just feels uncomfortably fiddly to me. The chromebook gives me all of the benefits of a tablet but with a bigger screen and keyboard to make all of my tasks more comfortable. And for under $200 total? Get outta here.
EDIT: I've had it for a few months now and I am still totally in love. This is the best $200 I have ever spent. Seriously.