96 of 97 people found the following review helpful
on November 22, 2012
The Acer C7 has a very upward battle to fight among the Google community and in people's mind. The Samsung that just came out before it has been getting excellent reviews and has been labeled the better computer, but is it really?
I was a bit shocked when I got my Acer at the small size of the product. Let it be stated that these are possibly the most portable computers when it comes to wanting a real keyboard. This computers weighs in at a little over 3 lbs but honestly you wouldn't think so as my wife can lift it easily with one hand. The overall casing is solid enough to give you enough confidence to carry it around without the feeling of breaking it but still not a full laptop/macbook quality when it comes to overall durability.
What stands out when you open it first is the keyboard. People have made this statement over and over but this little $200 system has the keyboard of a decent laptop. The keys are really responsive and nicely spaced, honestly it feels like a full keyboard most of the time. Two of the place where the laptop falls short is the track-pad and camera. The camera is very good compared to the Samsung but really doesn't give you any options when taking pictures (adjusting brightness, contrast, etc) this can be done on the back end with a photo editing program but not during. The track-pad is okay at best. You won't be raving over it but your not going to be giving it praise either. The screen resolution is overall very good, I watched Netflix this morning on it and I was very happy with the overall look and sharpness of the screen.
Differences between this and the Samsung are simple. This computer carries a 320 gig spinning hard drive and the Samsung has a solid state 16 gig hard drive. Both come with 2 years of Google Drive 100 gig service for free which is more than enough for most people. The Google community as a whole prefers a solid state as it has no moving parts and it follows Google's overall vision of the machine. But unlike the Samsung the Acer has a removable hard drive and can be installed with an SSD (same with ram and battery).
This computer also uses and Intel chip which means it can run things that the Samsung can not just yet. Example NETFLIX. The Samsung machine will eventually be able to but currently can not. This computer also has a fan as the ARM process runs cool enough to not need it, however if you are used to the fan of a full sized laptop then unless you are in a completely quiet place you'll never notice this fan.
The Google's OS works about as good as expected. There are many things that you will not be able to do that you could do on a Windows/Mac/Linux Machine that is a given. They are working very hard on resolving these issues. Right now I would say you if you buy this machine you are pretty much a beta tester. I could easily recommend Google chrome for writers, children, people who travel a lot, and people who generally work on the web (you know who you are). I am happy enough with the OS as it's fast and just works. I use it for both personal and business and I have encountered very few issues that couldn't be resolved with a Google Search.
Removable RAM, Hard drive and Battery - which can lead to replacements or upgrades after/during warranty cycle.
Glossy Screen (better for movies not better for outside)
Ethernet and VGA ports (the Samsung does not have this - it is only WIFI/3g)
Quick Start-up (22 seconds on average for me - not as fast as the Samsung but Windows users know this is fast!)
Netflix works (Samsung still being worked on)
Not the fastest Chromebook (Samsung is faster start up, 550 is the best performance.)
Small Webstore (Chrome's web store is pretty small with that being said they still have many programs that you would normally find on windows. Quality will get better as more people purchase the systems.)
Netbook Size (this computer is small, that doesn't mean it's bad but I'd like to see a big computer down the road)
OS Development (The OS is still being worked out so you should be prepared for things to change - however if you like change there is nothing more exciting than being part of the process.)
Battery (4 hours max - 3:30 to 3 on average needs better battery life or extended battery option)
44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
Fast & Cheap:
This is offered by Google on their Play store, and will undoubtedly be offered directly by Amazon later, at a list price of $199. When it is offered by Amazon directly, you will save on shipping since Google charged me roughly $13 for shipping. That's cheap.
Unlike the original CR48 "googlers only" Chromebook, and the first Samsung and Acer Chromebooks which ran Intel Atom chips, a truly mouse-power processor, this one runs on a much, much more powerful - in both CPU and GPU terms - Celeron processor based on former "Core" technology ("Sandy Bridge" generation) and in fact has been rebranded by Intel recently as a "Core" processor, even though it is based on the prior generation design and has most advanced "Core" "Ivy Bridge" functions disabled. Nevertheless this is a pretty good processor with pretty good graphics (for streaming video, not for games), and is supposedly marginally faster than the ARM processor in the equivalent Samsung "fast and cheap" Chromebook introduced last month - but that Samsung "ARM" Chromebook has an SSD (solid state drive instead of spinning mechanical platters) and SSD's have been known to perk up overall system performance by a substantial margin. But all you need to _really_ know is that this isn't the slug that the Atom-powered Chromebooks were, and that with either the new Samsung or this one, you will have a good browser and streaming video experience.
Since this Acer runs a "standard" Intel chip instead of the "smartphone" chip found in the new Samsung Chromebook, software doesn't have to be "ported over" from "Intel code" to "ARM code." This means you can run Netflix etc. out of the box, right now. However, most pundits believe ARM chips are the wave of the future (some forecasting them even for entry level MacBook Airs) since they are much, much more power efficient than anything Intel offers of similar processing and graphics power. What this means today, is that the Samsung Chromebook on the ARM chip can run for roughly twice as long as this one, based on published manufacturer specs, and given Google's good history of updating the Chrome operating system automatically, any application hiccups should be sorted out quickly.
Samsung's last generation Chromebook (12.1") runs an even faster Intel chip, and has an SSD. It is unlikely it will stay in the market place since it is not nearly as thin and light as the new Samsung Chromebook and costs roughly twice as much.
Where this Acer excels over the Samsung is in its "upgradeability" if you are willing to deal with potential warranty issues. It only takes a single screw to remove the bottom panel to access memory and hard drive. I have already placed a second 2gb memory stick in mine to bring memory up to 4gb - DDR3, PC 10600, 1333, 204 pin. A commenter on an earlier review states that the maximum memory the machine can accept is 4gb total, but I have no way to confirm this. Their are published reports of users swapping hard drives on Chromebooks (by first making a recovery USB) and so at some point I may replace the conventional hard drive with an SSD - but I am not sure how much incremental speed I would get since I now have 4gb of memory and will only be using the Chromebook for relatively light web tasks and occasional streaming video.
I have made good use of the large hard drive, loading (very easy to do) 100 gb of videos (instructional dvd's ripped with Handbrake to h.264 for Apple devices) and 40 gb of music. So the Chromebook won't just be a "brick" when I am away from wifi (since any writing I do is online anyway, the ability to write in Google Docs offline is nice, but not part of what I use a computer for).
So all in all, this Acer Chromebook is "fast and cheap" and, in addition, has a nice screen and good keyboard. It is a real travel/cafe/kitchen computer (or workshop, or anyplace you want to haul a small laptop around to watch YouTube instructions etc.).
Very Secure - with a caveat:
Google is pretty renowned for their attention to security, and it shows in the Chromebook. All user information is encrypted, so short of NSA level decryption it is unlikely anyone can "brute force" your hard disk to read off passwords. There is an admin procedure for gaining access to a locked device, but when it is used, user data is first erased. In addition, the Chrome browser safe-lists websites, and spots and warns you of compromised websites faster than any other browser (thanks to Google's constant web-crawling). Chrome is also sand-boxed, etc. etc. boring technical details, but experts seem to agree that the Chrome browser on any platform is the most secure, and Chrome OS is perhaps the most secure operating system out there. So yes you can use the Chromebook for your banking.
The problem I have with Google's security system is that you use your Google Gmail/Chrome password to log onto the laptop. This means physical surveillance could grab your password, and if your email account is known, any computer could be used after that to access your email. Since many people store passwords in their archived emails, and since email is the first route for password recovery, and since Chrome kindly remembers passwords for you (if you let it), this is a potential big security risk. The only two solutions that come to mind are carefully shielding the keyboard when you first log in, and not letting Google remember any banking or other sensitive passwords for you.
A perhaps better solution is to have two Gmail accounts, and log in under two different accounts for your Chromebook. One Gmail address for banking and only use that log in for banking; and one Gmail address for social and everything else, and use that log in for everything but banking.
The Chromebook settings, which are easy to find and change, allow you to freely let other Gmail users log into your Chromebook, or lock down the Chromebook to only the previous people logging in. You can also allow, or turn off, the Guest account. You may wish to lock down the Chromebook in settings if you are worried about other people using it. Remember, unlike other computers, the only credentials required to log onto any Chromebook are a Gmail account - you don't set up accounts in the conventional sense, the Chromebook is a lot like a public library terminal, open to everyone if you don't lock it down. This isn't a big negative for your personal security, since your information is always in the cloud not on the computer (except for downloaded or very limited local files which are encrypted anyway), but I wouldn't want a Bad Egg using my laptop. For a purely home computer, not a problem, for a travel computer, lock down the users.
All in all, it is really, really hard to mess up a Chromebook. It updates itself automatically and antivirus is built in. It is encrypted. Enough said! You can't find a more secure laptop for travel or cafes, for banking. If you go to "bad" websites you are less likely to get your computer infected than under any other operating system.
Before you buy one of these, you should really spend a few days or even a week and analyze what you use your computer most for. If you live in the browser, as I do, if you have immersed yourself in the Google-verse, as I have, it's a little scary but once you take the step there is no problem at all. I use Google Docs for all my created documents; Google+ Hangout for video chats; Google Voice (free telephone number, place calls from the Gmail window); all my music was uploaded to Google Pay for free and can be played anywhere I have a browser and wifi (including on tablets). Netflix works. In terms of non-Google stuff, I shop a lot on Amazon, I post a lot on FaceBook, and I read newspapers and articles online. My browser of choice on Windows, Mac, iPad, and Nexus 7 is Chrome, my mail is Gmail.
So far the only negative I have encountered is the inability to use iTunes and FaceTime. FaceTime has become enormously popular with my family. My kid is on her iPad and my wife has an iPhone, so while I don't have an iPhone, when I travel I use an iPod Touch to FaceTime home. It will ring my wife's phone, which is always on, or my kid's iPad, which is usually on, so reaching them is easy. It is less easy to reach them on Google+ Hangouts unless I send them a text first, it either doesn't have, or I haven't learned how to use, or I don't want to leave it on (and suck resources) Google + all the time.
Note that if you are Skype user, Chromebook does not have a Skype app. This isn't a Google problem, so much as a Skype problem - when Skype first came out, it decided to market itself as a stand-alone application, not as a web application. They chose to do this so they could run in the background so you could get calls on your computer all the time - if it had been browser based, it would have only been available when you had a browser window opened to their website. (It is actually HARD to turn Skype off, once you log in - unlike other programs that terminate by clicking the x in the corner of the app window, it keeps running unless you figure out how to really, really close it). For security reasons, Google naturally prefers to run EVERYTHING in its very secure browser, because to run in a browser window, a web-based app has to conform to web standards and Google can scan that website for malware. It Google were to allow Skype and other companies to write stand-alone apps for Chrome OS - like Skype, or Adobe Acrobat - they would open their very secure OS to security issues - for the past several years, for example, Adobe Acrobat has been one of the biggest security holes on Mac and Windows computers. Flash and Java follow closely (Java was even a problem for Apple this years). Google includes Flash directly in Chrome, and Java as well, but Google vets all that code and updates it immediately. So given the security issues with Skype (or any other 3rd party app) and the fact that Google has its own videoconferencing solution, it is unlikely Skype will come to Chrome OS or Chromebooks.
Right now Google is pitching Chrome OS and Chromebooks as the "simple" solution because its hard for the average user to understand the importance of security. The average user pays lip service to security (mainly by hobbling their machines with resource hungry overblown 3rd party antivirus programs), but at the end of the day they want Flash to run their video content and commercials, Adobe to read documents, Word (which had many security exploits over the years) to process documents, etc. If you really want a secure device, though, Google and Chrome OS are the best on the marketplace, and the Chrome browser works fine.
BTW if your grandmother is looking for secure email - yes this will run Comcast and other ISP emails, Microsoft Outlook, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, etc. Not just Gmail. No, if they open a Gmail account to use a Chromebook, they DON'T have to really use that for their email. They can keep using their regular old email. Short of "phishing" attacks which use psychological ploys, not computer hacking, to gain personal information, it is next to impossible to infect a Chromebook by opening a bad email or downloading a bad attachment or by visiting a "bad" website. In short, this is a perfect granny (and kids) web browsing computer.
As for the 320 gb hard drive on this vs. the 16gb on the Samsung and "traditional" Chromebooks -
- given that Google is uploading all my photos taken with my Android phone (Galaxy Nexus) and wants to download them to my other Google connected devices (besides keeping them in the cloud) it is probably a good thing to have 320 gb of Chromebook space instead of 16gb. That allows some room for saving all those pictures! (My Apple devices have been trying to "push" my photos taken with my Touch to ALL my Apple devices - nice for access, but not all my devices have the same amount of memory nor so I want this seemingly senseless duplication.)
If you absolutely, positively need the lightest, thinnest (MacBook Air territory) Chromebook, get the new Samsung (Samsung Chromebook (Wi-Fi, 11.6-Inch)). But I think this Acer is a better buy, and I like the large local hard disk.
BTW one reviewer felt the trackpad wasn't very responsive. In the Settings section, I just increased the trackpad speed and it made a great improvement in "feel". Much closer to MacBook Air standards (I am using a Mac mini with a Magic TrackPad to type this tonight so I know how good a trackpad should be). Also I "reversed" the scroll direction on the Chromebook to match the swipe-to-scroll direction on the Apple TrackPad - a neat adjustment.
Hope you enjoy your future Chromebook. Buy it for minimalist efficiency, and enjoy the security. Or buy it for the security, and be amazed by how much you have been doing all along, just in a browser window.
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2012
The major problems that this device seems to face aren't that it doesn't live up to it's potential, it's that most people seem to get stuck on 'but for a couple hundred more dollars I could get a real computer'. Or 'get a tablet'. Google probably should have rethought their marketing (from what I've seen they present the Chromebooks as being capable of 'everything' when that's not quite true). And not everyone jumped on board the tablet train.
The easiest way to explain a Chromebook is: it's a tablet with a built in keyboad. Yes it doesn't have Android OS and it's got a web store instead of Google Play, but it's close. Or you could call it a light computer without program functionality, sounds bad, but I like that it's not bogged down.
I've been dealing with tablets for the past year or so and it's always come down to the same problem for me--no keyboard. The keyboard stands out there never fit right for typing on my lap. I love tablets, I've had a few different ones before I settled. I enjoy Android, but since I'm a big one for typing--whether it's reviews, emails, or anything else-- nothing makes up for the lack of keyboard.
I needed something with a keyboard that was smaller and lighter than my heavy Acer Aspire. I fully intended to replace that laptop with whatever I purchased. Also, it needed to be relatively cheap since I'm one of the many people not made out of money.
I thought about what I needed the device to be capable and what I could live without. I checked out Chrome's web store and was surprised at the options (compared to the Play store it's lacking, but it has some useful stuff if you weed through the not-so-useful). I don't have a need for Microsoft Office Word, I find it to be a very expensive frustration, and I didn't have many other programs installed in my laptop. The one program I thought I'd miss was a photo editing one, but they've got alternatives at the web store.
I was looking into the Samsung Chromebook just a day before Google announced the Acer C7. Not being a full convert to Cloud storage I quickly decided that saving $50 and getting 320GB was a fair exchange for slightly slower boot time and slightly more weight (unlike many people, I've never had a problem with Acer products).
I purchased it directly from Google (where it is $199 plus shipping) and received it the next day (I had been informed that I paid $13 dollars for 2 day shipping).
I unboxed it, turned it on, and logged in. I haven't touched my old laptop since. Though to be perfectly honest my household has another computer, which I have used a couple of times for non personal things.
First off your touchpad will probably be slow and need to be adjusted, mine was way too slow.
If you rely on Office or Paint, Photoshop or any other program--you don't want this device to be your sole computer. But if you've got the $200 and you don't think tablets are for you, maybe you'd like to have a keyboard, or you'd just like something lighter to carry around, this baby is well worth the money.
I'd read about the battery performance before I'd purchased and it doesn't feel like it's as bad as they say, though I haven't timed it. Plus the power cord is pretty long--unlike the itty bitty one that came with my tablet, so if I go to another room and there's an outlet nearby I can just plug it in. I've always kept my Aspire plugged in (it hasn't moved from my room since I purchased it). I suppose if you're on a long flight you might be out of luck...
My Drive suits my needs just fine when it comes to typing--I love the awesome auto save--and I appreciate the screen size versus my 7 inch tablet when I'm shopping on Amazon or going through forums.
Like many others, I've had a hard time adjusting to the location of the page up and down buttons and the home and end buttons, it is a little annoying, but I don't find myself using those keys very often.
I still prefer my tablet for reading, I'll check my email on it, and other simple tasks, but this little machine is better than I'd hoped.
So the biggest thing to keep in mind is that, for most of you, this will not work as a replacement for your computer-- it could be an alternative to a tablet, for someone too young to have their own computer, someone's first computer, for a writer who doesn't need major formatting at their finger tips, a big blogger, a perfect traveling device...
Just do a little thinking about what you need out of it before making the decision to buy.
If there are any questions I'd be happy to try to answer them.
UPDATE Jan. 5th:
The 3.5mm headphone jack doesn't consistently work, it appears to be an annoying problem for many of the c7 chromebooks. People have suggested wiggling your headphone plug until it works, I've found the only solution for me is a mixture of; unplug and replug/ mute and umute (sometimes switching to different headphones/earbuds makes it work also). It's a little time consuming, but once the audio comes through your headphones it should stay that way until you unplug them.
Printing: I've hit a dead end here. Which is a bummer since the major reason I bought the C7 was for a light, typing machine. If you've got a Google Cloud Print Ready Printer you should be good (although I've read that you may need a computer for a firmware update?), otherwise it seems you have to be signed in on Chrome with a computer that's already got a printer. That kind of set up doesn't work for me since the available computer is a shared one. So, taking the long route, I've found myself either logging in to Google Drive on the REAL computer (being sure to sign out after) and printing docs from there, or emailing things to myself so that I can print later. It's a little time consuming, but it works. If you use a shared computer--and are printing Top Secret documents--make sure you clear the clipboard if you've used it.
I think the printer issue highlights the fact that a Chromebook is not a FULL computer, but if you have access to a real computer you should be able to work around it.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on December 10, 2012
I have no idea why Amazon is charging so much money for this thing, I got mine for the Google advertised price of $199 at Best Buy.
Here is my review:
This little computer is fantastic. We purchased it for my mother in law who is not great with computers. All she cares about is going online to shop and play facebook games and sometimes video chat.
- The computer is very very fast with everything it does. Web sites load fast.
- The comuter boots up and is ready to surf the web in 30 seconds or less.
- Opening pictures and other files go very fast as well.
Chrome Operating System:
- Yes it will take a little getting used to if you use windows every day, but trust me its not bad.
- I was able to hook up my external Hard drive and copy over some family pictures very easily and quickly. You just have to use the "files" app.
- There is no support for Skype, however, this is a google computer, so you will need a G mail account which means you can use Google Hangouts to video chat, I actually like it better than skype. (skype will eventually launch a chrome app).
- The battery is very small, around 3 hours of usage, so make sure you are someone who is always going to have it plugged in, if not, you may need to spend the extra $50 and get the Samsung Chromebook which has a 6 hour battery.
- The computer comes free with 100GB of google drive cloud storage which is great if you are an Android device user.
- supports normal plug and use USB mice and other devices. I purchased a $15 wireless mouse and it works without any set up or tinkering.
If you are someone who needs a simple laptop to do video chatting, web surfing, shopping, and play online games, this is perfect for you. I cannot over-state how fast this computer is at everything it does, its amazing. There is no waiting (provided you have a decent internet speed).
What more needs to be said? If you need a cheap computer which is blazing fast, buy this thing!!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 18, 2013
So I went to the store to try out this machine and the Samsung one. Lucky for me, both of them were on display side by side.
Price didn't matter to me, so I had both of them on hold.
Right off the bat, the battery life on this is pretty weak. 3 hrs vs 6 hrs on the Samsung one.
But other than that, this machine beats the Samsung one in my book. Please, go to the store and test them out yourself. The sound volume in both is identical, the weight is just a few ounces more, barely notice any difference, but the screen on this thing is what sold me. Clear, Vivid colors, as compared to the Samsung one that has washed out, pale colors.
With the best buy associate, we played the same video on both and the clarity on this one blew the Samsung away. And this one looks so much better than the Samsung one. Not cheap looking AT ALL! Au contraire, I like the look of this way better; and I'm one of those gals that's into fashion, and beautiful items. I dress men as well as I dress women. And I have no problem shelling out the money for something that's worth it for me. I mean I first bought the Asus Transformer Prime ($600) when it came out, tried the IPAD, the Touchpad, etc, then realized that tablets are not for me.
I mean if they're supposed to be smaller, lighter versions of laptops, then they should do everything that laptops do, at least internet wise. But they don't. Skimmed web pages, extra bucks for extra keyboard and mouse, some websites not working properly on those OS, etc.
So I figured; everywhere now you can find a power outlet. Even in bathrooms. So what the heck? Most movies I watch are not that long, and I never surf the net for 3 hours straight. So this thing has been staying charged for 3 days easily. Close the lid, and it goes to power saving mode automatically. Come back, and it starts right where you left off.
And at $200 at BB, SOLD!
If I had just gone by the pseudo "expert" reviews online, I would have gotten the Samsung on Ebay for over $300.
Yesterday, I downloaded Ubuntu on my Acer C7, and lord it even got better! Now I have Bluetooth, and the sound has gone up twice as high as just using the Chrome OS. Unbelievable!
I have office suites already there, can work on pictures and download Linux compatible programs; And I can switch from Ubuntu to Chrome OS within 2 mins, without having to "root" or break my warranty. But why would I switch back to Chrome OS? I can use the Chrome browser within Ubuntu. I lost no speed, no battery power, NOTHING.
I have to talk about the sound again, because I almost got speakers for this thing. After I installed Ubuntu on it, I was blown away.
So go on youtube, there's a simple step by step guide to download Ubuntu. The whole thing took less than an hour and was simple and straightforward.
PS: This Acer C7 is also 40% faster than the Samsung one, in all tests around the net. You can also increase the Ram on this one, not on the Samsung.
GET YOURSELF ONE OF THESE MACHINE!
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2012
I just got mine yesterday so I'll add some thoughts.
First: Chrome OS is fantastic. It's a very elegant OS with few features, which I feel is the exact opposite of Android. It's almost iOS-like in its purposeful simplicity. In its simplicity, it's lacking some features that I'm used to but it remains to be seen whether they're deal-breakers or if they're mostly things I can get used to doing without. It's mostly minor-ish things I wish I could do, like being able to upload mp3s to Google Music, which requires the Music Manager application. Or maybe just zoom-in on a downloaded photo in the Files utility. For the most part though, getting used to Chrome OS feels similar to using OS X for the first time.
As for the C7, if you're coming from a cheap windows computer to begin with, or if you're not very picky about computers, you'll probably be satisfied with the quality of the machine. However, if you're used to more expensive computers, you may find the C7 to seem downright cheap. The major gripes I have with the C7 are the keyboard and the screen.
My primary computer is a white 2010 Apple Macbook and it was the cheapest laptop that Apple sold and thus had the lowest quality screen of all of Apple's computers. But even that screen is lightyears ahead of the C7 and to be fair, a majority of windows computers. If there's one thing that Apple unequivocally does correctly, it is the screen. The screen on C7 on the other hand looks a bit washed out, blue, and dull. It has poor vertical viewing angles and I can see faint vertical lines between adjacent pixels. To be frank, it just looks cheap to me. I realize this is THE budget machine and that there are people out there that find no issues with this screen but I'm just not sure I'll ever get used to this screen. As for the keyboard, it's sized correctly and doesn't feel cramped but the keys feel very mushy to me.
As for the rest of the machine, the performance feels perfectly acceptable and the claimed 4hr battery life is adequate in my opinion. In comparison to the Samsung, I've seen complaints about the fan noise but so far, they haven't been that much of a bother. The fan is definitely spinning most of the time but I wouldn't say it's as bad as some of the other laptops I've seen.
All in all, I think the C7 is great deal for the price point. I think current chromebooks compete with tablets like the Microsoft Surface and even the iPad extremely favorably for many use-cases because of price, full keyboard, and full-fledged Chrome browser.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2012
This is a great computer if you are one of those people who don't have an advanced computer science degree. It won't let you do everything, but for most people, it's a 100% solution. It does everything they do now, only much simpler, and a lot more secure. It's a perfect (shared) device for the grandparents, for the kids, and I'm quickly growing fond of it myself.
It's portable (3 lbs. and 11.6" form factor). That is, it is comfortable to carry around in a backpack with other stuff.
Configuration is simple and hassle free. Greatly simplified from what you'd expect from a Windows PC or a Mac. If you can use a browser, you're all set.
It's cloud-based, so if you drop it off a building ... you just get another one. Log in, and you're back. No backups needed.
No disk defrag. Yes, it has a disk. No, you never have to waste time defragging it.
Security. This is a lot more secure than a regular PC can be. If you are interested in that, Google it.
Maybe the biggest selling point of ChromeOS is the lack of drama. It just works, it keeps working, and you don't have to worry about it.
OS updates occur at reboot, and you get to decide when. They are super fast.
Video playback is beautiful, especially full screen, with no tearing and high frame rates. Works with Amazon video, Hulu, Netflix, and YouTube. Better for watching movies in bed than a touchpad. Though I will not be giving up my PaperWhite for reading anytime soon.
One word of caution: Java does not run on ChromeOS, either in the browser or on the system. So you can't play MineCraft or other Java-based games. And this is too bad, because I have a similarly-configured machine that does a great job on MineCraft. If you are somewhat technical, you can dual-boot ChrUbuntu alongside ChromeOS (I have not done this, but the process is well documented and stable), and run all the heavy apps - including Java apps - there. This kind of ruins the whole simplicity thing, but it is possible to have both the price-point and choice.
The built-in camera works great for video chatting as well. Christmas Google Hang-outs with the family were smooth, clear, and lag-free.
Nice, simple implementation of multi-user accounts, so everyone in the family can have their own account on the machine.
Sleep and wake are very fast and reliable, so you just close the lid any time and take the machine with you.
It's very fast. Some of the other reviews mention startup time, which is about 20 seconds. This is not the same as the speed of running applications, and I think this machine still beats the ARM-based ChromeBooks. Anyway, you should not need to shut down the machine often. Sleep and wake are super fast, and the battery keeps a charge for a long time when the machine is asleep.
Keyboard is really exceptional. I enjoy using it. It fits adult hands well. The feel of the keyboard is nice. The arrow keys are small, but I have not found this to really present much of a problem.
Battery life of 4 hours is adequate, but not if you are planning on working without a cord all day.
The speakers are inadequate. Tinny, and needs more volume. Not unusable, but the one weakness in this machine. We use earphones or plug into a Bose Wave Radio.
Although you can use this without wifi, it's pretty limited. You really need wifi. It's a cloud device. That's the downside. If your family is like mine, we use wifi for everything anyway, so that's not much of a limitation.
I am using a Logitech M305 miniature wireless mouse with a scroll wheel, and that seems to match the machine well.
Also, if you plan to move around a lot, consider getting an extra charger. They are inexpensive and very convenient.
If you are planning to travel around with it, consider one of the cases.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 8, 2013
This is a well bundled deal for only $200. It is a light compact design that has a nice build to it. It boots up super fast and is literally whisper quiet. The Wifi works great. It has an Ethernet connection as well. Pretty much every website loads at lighting fast speeds. Flash works really well too. I am loving the chiclet keyboard better than a regular one! I use tho photo sync app on my smartphone to store photos on the spacious 320 GB hard drive. There is also enough room to store plenty of music. I love the fact that the chromebook updates on its own and the Chrome OS is less susceptible to viruses than other operating systems. The HDMI connection is another great bonus. I can watch Amazon videos, Netflix, Google Play movies, YouTube, or any personal downloaded movies or pics on a big screen! You can even create documents and use Google Cloud Print. The only knocks I have on this computer is the speakers and the battery life. I would have given the Acer C7 a perfect score if it weren't for these two issues. I recommend a $20 Marware speaker for movies and music. I only get about 3 hours of usage per battery charge. There are better screen displays than the Acer, but the screen is pretty good. I think this deal is a complete steal for the price!
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 27, 2012
I picked up the Acer C7 to help me with writing a book. I needed a computer I can take anywhere that has an actual full sized keyboard and not the usual keyboard I am used to seeing on a netbook. The Acer C7 arrived last week and I was surprised by the small size, but even more surprising was the quality. Well built and able to handle normal day-to-day travel and use, this Chromebook does exactly what I need. I liked the idea of having a computer that could fit in an extremely lightweight carrying case with a few accessories.
The only shortcomings were the battery life at three and a half hours. More like three to three and a quarter. I did note that dimming the display helped the battery life somewhat. Also, the built-in speakers were just barely acceptable, but with a set of inexpensive clip on USB speakers, the unit does just fine on sound. Overall video performance on Youtube was good and I was impressed with this and also the performance on Amazon instant video delivery. The scrolling and select with the touchpad and single click system takes some getting used to. I keep looking for right-click and that does drive me a bit batty now and again. I am so used to spell-check on words and then right-clicking to use it, that this is the only true pet-peeve I have on the system. I figure I'll learn the secret of how that works with more time to research the differences.
The Chrome OS is very easy to pick up on and I'm planning to have this unit be a dual boot system, since I have found a link to instructions on how to install Ubuntu on it and to take advantage of the 320gb hard drive. For now, I'm very pleased with the overall unit and am typing this review on the C7.
I recommend the C7 if you are clear that this is NOT your normal computer. It is a Chromebook. Get used to it and you will do just fine. I am pleased with my purchase and would buy another one if I needed to.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 21, 2012
Update: In my opinion the right Acer C7 to buy is the Acer C710-2833. Amazon is currently (August 2013) selling it for $199 which is the right price. It has a 16GB SSD instead of this model's 320GB slow spinning hard drive; that is an important and noticeable performance upgrade, at the cost of disk space which is simply not that important on a Chromebook for most users.
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 or spinning hard drive, 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 silly hard drive with an SSD. 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 Caps Lock key (usually replaced by Search on Chrome OS keyboards), and also 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 the Chrome OS Search key 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. I can't really tell which sounds are the fan and which are the spinning hard drive.
This Acer C7 model comes with a 320GB hard drive. The question here is... why? 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 this space will ever be that useful. I suppose there's the "load it up with movies before the car trip" argument. I'll probably even do that myself when I go to visit my family this holiday season. But I'd prefer to have a silent, fast, tiny SSD for normal use, and bring my movies on an external hard drive. Update: This is now possible with the Acer C710-2833, which I recommend instead of this model, and which is also really available for $199 on Amazon.
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 silly 320GB hard drive with things you want. 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 $500+ Chrome OS is an oddball. At $200 Chrome OS is a remarkable new paradigm in computing. It's pleasant to use, and for $200, the various hardware and software flaws aren't bad enough to give me much pause. In fact, for $200, 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 $250 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.