on March 5, 2014
I'm in my last semester (hopefully) of my undergrad and my 4 year old HP Envy quit on me in the first week of this semester. I've had my Chromebook for about a month now, so I think I'm a little qualified to leave a pretty accurate review.
Overall, I absolutely love my Chromebook. It is an amazing little device and I will probably never go back to a PC (I'm not a Mac person at all so I can't compare it to them). Now, as a disclaimer, I am not someone who does online gaming or software video editing. At most, I'll edit some pictures and maybe edit some music files, so I cannot attest to this devices ability to fulfill those needs (though it doesn't seem like it would be very compatible with them). However, as someone who needs a computer mostly for internet, research, email, music, social networking, and document editing, this thing is amazing.
1. Speed. This thing is a beast. It comes out of a sleep faster than my Kindle will start up (if I shut it down, not just if I wake it up from sleeping). It's kind of incredible how fast it boots. Internet browsing and document editing is awesome, video viewing is great (YES, this OS IS great for Netflix and online streaming, don't believe what you've heard if it is contrary to what I just said).
2. Display. I really like the Chrome OS layout (it's pretty similar to Windows 7, which I liked a lot more than any devices with Windows 8 that I've tried--my phone has Windows 8 and I kind of hate it now that I have my Chromebook). It's intuitive and simple--the whole setup process for me took like ten minutes tops.
3. Sync with Google. I can access all of my stuff EVERYWHERE. I used Google Drive before, but not as heavily. It is soooo so nice to have all of your material on whatever computer you may have access to.
4. Apps. Google has come out with some really useful apps for these devices and they're only making more.
5. Hardware. I love the way this Acer laptop is set up. The sound is surprisingly wonderful for such a small machine, AND it has separate "speakers' and "headphones" settings for sound. No more plugging my headphones in, forgetting I had the volume cranked earlier that day, and having my ear drums blown out. It's a simple but beautiful thing and I don't know why more manufacturers don't do it. The top row of keys is as follows: Escape, Back (internet browser button), Forward, Refresh, Fullscreen, I don't know what to call the next button but if you hit it it brings all the things you have open up on your desktop screen and you can click on what you want to go to, Dimmer, Brighter, Mute, Volume Down, Volume Up, Power. The "programs" button is awesome, I use it all the time to get to something else that I have open but don't want to scroll through everything to find, and having the internet back, forward, and refresh buttons on the keyboard is surprisingly nice. Some people say they're worried about hitting the power button accidentally, but to turn it off you have to hold it for a few seconds, so it's difficult to do it by accident. The screen is matte, so you can still see things if you're outside or by a window, and the trackpad is awesome--two finger scroll, click with two fingers for a right click, and you can enable tap to click in the settings (which I was thrilled with because I hate pushing down every time). Unfortunately, though, there's no zoom feature on the trackpad. That's my only complaint about it. This thing is SO lightweight overall--with my old computer, if I lugged it around campus my shoulders would kill me, but with this one I can barely tell it's in my backpack.
6. Sleep/Occasional Crash Recovery. Any time I've put this to sleep, turned it off without closing things, or had it run out of memory and need to restart abruptly, I have not lost a single thing. Are crashes desirable? No. Do they happen? Yes. Does this thing deal with them well? Absolutely. On a computer with only 2 gb of RAM I kind of expected a few crashes because I can be a heavy internet browser, but when it restores itself, all my tabs come back and whatever I was working on is safe.
7. Battery Life. Battery life battery life oh my gosh battery life. I am AMAZED with it. One day I was using it to watch Netflix and bum around on the internet and the battery was at about 60% and I didn't have to plug it in for FIVE hours. On a full charge, it will do at least 8 if you're not watching videos, and about 6 or 7 if you are. It's absolutely incredible and if it's the one reason you buy this computer, I wouldn't judge that decision (other than to say it's totally reasonable). It's wonderful and cannot be matched. It's also super convenient when I need to take it to class and am not sitting close to a power outlet. My old HP would get 3 hours MAX when the batter was new. If this computer only lasted 3 hours, I would wonder what was wrong with it. The lack of a need to plug in is a beautiful, beautiful thing and it is definitely unparalleled.
8. Google Docs. At first I was worried about not having Microsoft Word, but honestly, Google's line of word processing programs are so similar that it doesn't even matter. You can save things as .docx or .pdf and then anyone can view them in the "traditional" format. It's absolutely not necessary to have Microsoft Word. Plus, there are plenty of converter apps that Google has to view things from other people and turn them into Google Docs so you can edit them, and then turn them back into pdfs or whatever you need.
1. Sometimes it crashes. It happens with all computers. However, as I said, it reboots well and I've never lost anything.
2. The fact that all my stuff is on the cloud... I'm a little uncomfortable with it. I have an external hard drive with most of my files on it (especially videos and stuff). I've never had any problems with hacking, but it worries me slightly. However, Google is constantly improving security, so I'm not ALL that worried. The nice thing is that you can set up "2 Step Verification," so when you (or potentially someone else) log into your google account from a previously unused computer, you have to supply your password AND google sends your phone a text with a code to put in. You have to have your phone to log in, but this gives me a little more peace of mind.
3. Desire to Learn (this online software that my school uses for virtually everything) issues. The dropbox on Desire to Learn won't let me upload files. This has been an absolute pain and I have to make sure that I either have my Kindle Fire charged so I can send PDFs to it and then upload them with that, or that I'm on campus so I can use a public computer to turn in my assignment. This is my biggest complaint and I hope I can resolve it eventually, though I don't know how I could do it on my own.
4. Printing. I haven't sat down yet to try to connect my printer to cloud print. I know there are directions, I know you are supposed to be able to print with Chromebooks, but there are so many extra steps that I just haven't bothered with it yet. I've resorted to printing on my campus and my printer has gone dormant. Maybe eventually I'll hook it up and change this to a pro, but for now, it's a hindrance.
5. File Explorer. The file explorer is pretty simple but is sometimes kind of glitchy. Usually if I put my computer to sleep and wake it up again it solves that problem, but it's annoying nonetheless.
Overall, if you're not a huge gamer or video editor, this computer is amazing. All these great features combined with the outstanding price make it a fantastic choice for those who just use computers for internet and document editing. Contrary to Microsoft's Chrome OS slam commercials, IT IS NOT USELESS WITHOUT AN INTERNET CONNECTION. No, you can't access websites, but you can't do that offline with a PC anyway. You can still make documents and they'll just save to your small hard drive and sync with Google Drive later. It saves the most recent things you've worked on, and if you want more you can use an external hard drive or flash drive (or physically move files to the offline drive) to access more files offline. Honestly, though, I'm so rarely without an internet connection that it doesn't even matter anyway.
I would recommend this computer wholeheartedly (and have many times in the past month). It's compact, intuitive, useful, and does almost everything a common PC will do. If you have any other questions that I didn't address, just ask :)
To start, this Chromebook is the best one I have ever owned. I read the reviews before buying and like many of us, was still a little skeptical because of how affordable it was ($239 at the time I purchased it.) So far, this is what I have used it for and following is a list of pros and cons I've noticed in the month I've had it:
I'm a nursing student and use this for taking notes of lectures in Google Docs 80% of the time. Because I'm in an accelerated program, I sometimes have 4 or more classes per day which requires me to be running multiple tabs at the same time, searching through folders, streaming video, downloading things from Google Drive, changing and adding classes and tests to Calendar, and so forth. This Chromebook never misses a beat. It can handle as many tabs open as you could possibly ever need. For college, I really don't think you could possibly need anything more powerful or anything Windows or Mac based... in short, this thing just works. Now here's the pros and cons:
- It's lightweight yet still feels pretty sturdy even though the case is plastic.
- The battery life is AMAZING. I can't stress this enough. I use this Chromebook all day for note taking and browsing the internet for school and at the end of the day, I seriously am at about 70% battery power remaining! The nice thing about that is I can stop at a Starbucks or something on the way home to study my notes with plenty of battery power left. No more carrying an AC adapter around! Once I get home, I can log on to my Windows computer and everything is there, fully synced in my Google Drive. I plug the Chromebook in and charge it up for the next day. No power issues at all.
- The WiFi works flawlessly, connects quickly to any available network, and is able to pickup the signal very well. It picks up WiFi signals way better than my previous Windows laptop and even better than my Galaxy Note phone.
- The keys are spaced out nicely so you don't feel cramped when typing. They're not too noisy where you're going to bother other classmates while typing, and they feel sturdy. Not a whole lot of flexing or anything while typing. In short, it doesn't feel cheap.
- Boot-up time is what they claim... 7 seconds or less. If you keep it on but close the lid, it puts it to sleep and when you go to use it again, it's ready to go before you even finish lifting the screen up.
- The sound quality is way better than I expected from a Chromebook. I'd venture to say it's even better than most laptops. You can crank the volume up if needed and it is loud yet still clear. Obviously using headphones will give you better sound quality but you get really good sound from these speakers alone.
- The screen... oh, the screen... where do I begin... As others have mentioned, it leaves much to be desired. The quality of the picture is pretty poor for anything beyond note-taking, browsing the web, and watching some YouTube videos. The screen just looks sort of muddy and washed out. It's also pretty small at just over 11" which makes having multiple windows open side by side almost impossible. But, you're sacrificing screen real estate for compactness so it's a trade-off that you'll have to decide if you're willing to make as Acer now makes the Chromebook 13 which, for about $40 more, has a much better screen that is full 1080p and offers a faster processor (more on the Chromebook 13's processor below.)
- Top cover/screen design: When closing the lid and carrying the Chromebook around in my messenger bag, the design of the keyboard allows part of the keyboard to touch the screen, leaving a scratch-like line across the screen, near the middle top. I tried rubbing it to see if it would go away and it didn't. Using a cleaning cloth I was able to make it less noticeable, however, it's still there and I imagine will only get worse over time. I may talk to Acer about this and see if this is a common problem, and if not, if I can get my Chromebook swapped out.
To summarize, this really is probably the best deal on a time-tested Chromebook with over a years worth of good reviews and reliable operation and I've experienced the same thing with mine. With its Intel Celeron processor, it's fast enough to do probably everything you would need to do. The on-board RAM (2 GB) is plenty to have multiple tabs open, videos streaming, etc. The 32 GB of on-board storage is plenty considering most of your work is going to be done online anyway. It's also solid state which means it is very, very fast. No spinning hard drives as you would find in the average laptop. I can honestly say, for the money you're spending, you're getting an amazing deal on this Chromebook.
SIDE NOTE REGARDING THE ACER CHROMEBOOK 13:
The Acer Chromebook 13 was released in August with people getting their pre-orders in the mail shortly thereafter. It is an impressive machine, offers a faster processor (that I really don't think you'll need), the same amount of RAM, but only 16GB of on-board storage (the $379 version comes with 4GB RAM and 32GB storage but as of October 2014, has a 3-5 week backorder timeframe here on Amazon.)
Regarding the Chromebook 13's processor: it is an NVIDIA Tegra K1 which is an ARM based processor vs. the Acer c720's x86 based processor. While the Tegra K1 is faster, you won't notice the speed increase unless you are a serious power user running many, many apps at the same time. Also, because it's the first Chromebook to use an ARM based processor, some Google apps will not run on it because they are built around the x86 architecture. This will change in the future, of course, but for right now, with the Acer Chromebook 13 being the only Chromebook using the Tegra K1 processor, the developers are not going to be in a huge hurry to upgrade their apps until more Chromebook models using it are released. This won't affect everyone, but it is something to think about. Also, NVIDIA is working on an upgraded Tegra K1 processor due out sometime by the end of 2014 so that may be another reason to hold off for the moment.
The screen size and resolution of the Acer Chromebook 13 is a big improvement over the Acer Chromebook c720, offering vivid colors and a large 13+" inch screen providing full 1080p resolution. Even though it's less than 2" larger than the 720's screen size, it is noticeable when trying to run two windows or apps side by side, looks better when streaming videos, and has more of a laptop screen feel. With the increased screen size and faster processor, it may be a better option for you but in my opinion, I'd hold off until the Tegra K1 ARM based processor is more established and the app manufacturers have updated their apps to work with it. It's only about $50 more expensive, you're gaining a lot, and really only loosing the extra 16 GB of on-board storage, but you're also dealing with the issues with the new NVIDIA processor.
I'm personally going to keep the Chromebook c720 until something with more substantial upgrades is released sometime in 2015.
Would I recommend this Acer Chromebook c720 to someone? Absolutely. As I said in the beginning of my review, I think this is your best bang for the buck in terms of current Chromebooks on the market.
*** I hope you find this review helpful. Please let me know [...] if it has helped you at all... I do my best to get you as much info as I can so you can feel good about your decision to purchase the product. I will also update this post with any info I hear back from Acer regarding the issue I mentioned about the screen getting scratched by the keyboard. ***
on May 9, 2014
Background: I'm a student, and I was looking for a light and portable (under 3lb) computer which could quietly and quickly handle multitasking use of a word processor, netflix, social stuff (email/FB) and spotify. My criteria was pretty simple. I also love Google products. I've had this laptop for ~3 weeks, and I love it.
- It's so light. Seriously.
- $250. So cheap. SO CHEAP.
- It boots up completely in 5-7 seconds.
- 8.5 hours of battery life. Actually.
- The fan is SO QUIET. I can't hear it at all. (On my old laptop, the fan was so hot you couldn't have the computer on your lap. It was also so loud, you couldn't hear music playing off the built in speakers.)
- Once you get used to it, you will use the keyboard shortcuts. This is one thing I particularly love about Chrome OS. On a Windows computer, you've got so many different programs running from different developers, and so you're limited in your shortcuts. But when everything is Chrome, you can standardize your shortcuts. I use them all the time. Everything runs in Chrome windows, so I'm constantly using new window, new tab, close window, minimize window, etc. Also, the built in "refresh" "back" "forward" "full screen" and "switch window" buttons on the keyboard are gold.
- Also, two finger scroll. Yes.
- If you're working late at night and want minimal brightness... The low settings on this are fantastic.
- I bought the 32GB version, and I doubt I'll use all the memory. Also, there are two USB ports on this thing, so you can always plug in storage. (FYI, speaking of ports, there is also an SD card slot, and a mini HDMI port.)
- The speakers are surprisingly loud and decent quality. You won't have any problems (at all) with spoken-word audio. I can happily tolerate listening to music on them too, but I prefer headphones (that's kind of a given, this is a cheap chromebook after all. I wasn't expecting a fancy media device).
The things you need to know, which could be good or bad or maybe you don't care:
- It's a Chrome OS. Duh.
- The keys aren't backlit (but fyi, they're not uncomfortably small).
- There is no CD/DVD drive.
- There's no delete key, but you won't miss it.
- Also no caps lock key, but it's replaced by a search key which accesses all your files and apps as well as the internet.
- There's no page up or page down buttons, but again, you probably won't notice once you get used to shift+up arrow/down arrow.
- 11.6" screen, again, duh. I like it, actually. My 16in screen feels unnecessarily large.
- In direct sunlight, it's usable, but not the best. It has a semi-matte screen, so there's no reflection, it's just a little dark. I haven't had any problems the few times I've used it outside.
- The laptop comes with, like, ten free GoGo In-Flight wifi passes.
- It doesn't attract many fingerprints.
- Apparently it does automatic security updates. So that's cool. I noticed an unobtrusive pop-up the other day notifying me I was safe, so I guess it's working.
- The ports are kind of tight. This isn't really significant - don't rip your headphones or USB out, just exercise reasonable care and you shouldn't need to worry.
If you can handle Chrome OS, and you want something portable and fast with awesome battery life... This a wonderful computer. No complaints.
on January 25, 2014
I've had my new Acer C720 for about a week now. The price was certainly appealing, and when the 32GB SSD model came out for $250, I knew it was time to take the leap. This is my first Chromebook.
This review covers both the C720 and the Chromebook platform (Chrome OS) itself. They are largely inseparable.
1. For $250 (or less if you opt for only 16 GB SSD) you get a laptop! Putting aside any other considerations, this alone is enough reason to buy.
2. There's a lot to love about the C720. It's extremely thin and lightweight (as a Chromebook should be), has amazing battery life, and appears solidly constructed.
3. If you are like me and already a heavy Google user, making the switch to Chromebook makes a lot of sense. Who needs all that Microsoft bloatware anyway? Not me! In exchange for living without MS Office and certain other software, I get a laptop with 8 hours battery life for very little money. And you gotta love the 7 second startup time!
4. There are other advantages to Chromebooks too numerous to mention here. Suffice it to say, I'm way happier with the service I've gotten from Google than I ever was Microsoft or Apple. And there's no additional money to pay.
5. The bonus 100 GB of online storage in Google Drive comes in handy! I've already backed up my mp3's, photos, and documents. If something ever happens to this computer -- or any of my computers -- I feel like my stuff is safe.
6. The free GoGo Inflight Wi-Fi passes are also nice. Though I wish they were valid for more than a year.
1. As with many other Chromebook models, the C720 goes into sleep mode if you close the lid. Even with quick recovery time, this is still a bit annoying. But it does make the battery last even longer.
1. I'm not overly thrilled with the limited keyboard. Where are my "home" and "delete" keys?? [ALT][DOWN] is a poor substitute for "page down." I do like the simplified function keys, which *almost* make up for the keys I miss. But not quite. This is my least favorite thing about this laptop, and it makes me think it may not be the best for power users.
2. I miss my trackpad "left click" and "right click" buttons. I'm getting used to having just a trackpad with no buttons, but even after a lot of practice, navigating and highlighting (and especially "right clicking") are still difficult for me. I would have gladly paid an extra $10 to have trackpad butons.
3. Google Docs have come a long way, and at this point they do *most* of the same things as their Microsoft equivalents. But let's admit something here: they are not as good yet. I also miss Photoshop. And basics, like Notepad. (Yes, the Chrome store sells Notepad equivalents, but they just aren't the same.)
SUMMARY: I love this laptop and feel like a genius for only paying $249. It's exactly what I need, and great for me since I already have a deep relationship with Google products. But it's not without drawbacks. Power users may want to stick with Microsoft or Apple. For me, though, the drawback are easily worth never having to deal with Microsoft or Apple again. They are evil and want all your money.
on January 27, 2015
After a TON of research, I went with this chromebook over ones that were newer, had bigger screens, or had more of this or that. I've heard complaints about the screen in particular, but I find the resolution and quality to be more than adequate. I was a little reluctant to go with the 12" screen, but actually prefer it - a lot! It just makes this chromebook that much more portable, and that much easier to snatch up when moving about the house, or when running out for the weekend.
I think I did get the model with a little more storage space or something, but I personally will never use it all up. Even if I did, it's so easy just to park files in the cloud or whatever.
What has really lived up to the hype is the battery life - you really can look forward to a minimum of 8 hours on a charge. I was so used to having a laptop tethered by the power cord that it really is wonderful to just use this thing and leave it anywhere in the house that's convenient, and only have to recharge it about every 4 or 5 days!
While it may be par for the course with a chromebook, as someone switching from laptops, I love how this thing is silent, and I don't get hit with all of the popups and banners like are more of an issue with a laptop (at least how I browse the web).
I was also surprised that the sound on the C720 is better than on my 17" Toshiba Satellite, although the Satellite has really bad speakers.
Another thing - boot time is basically instantaneous. Again - this may be standard with most or all chromebooks, but if it isn't, it's one more reason to consider the C720. I think I also read where opening a lot of tabs would slow down page loading? I think I've had at least a dozen, with no issues that I noticed. This was with audio or video on at least one tab, too.
I need to be clear and say that I didn't get the C720 with the expectations of it replacing a laptop. I just am not a tablet or "big smartphone" person. I don't really like using touchscreens for the most part. I've also had my own business and enough jobs that required laptops when out on the road that I love about this what I hated about all of them. That even goes for a really nice Thinkpad that I had from my last job - possibly as good as it gets with a traditional laptop, but the C720 is just better in the ways that are important.
The only negative thing I can really think of is that I wish there were "home" and "end" keys, as I've really gotten used to using them. Again though - there may be some equivalent that I just foolishly/ignorantly don't know about. While I should probably be more critical or give more analysis to the other programs on the C720, I honestly don't use them enough for it to detract from how I feel about it. For that matter, I think there are ports for all the popular stuff - even a HDMI if I'm not mistaken? So all the connectivity and flexibility is there, right under my nose.
...I also did (honestly) try to set up the HP printing feature, and I think I did it correctly. I didn't test it though, but my HP printer does show up as if it were configured properly. I know that can be important to some users, so I wanted to mention that it at least exists, even if it might not work well (I honestly don't know).
While some of what I've said is probably not too helpful, at least it should convey that they pack a TON of features into even what should be just a basic little "light duty laptop," and for such a ridiculously low price vs. even a lot of tablets.
on December 6, 2014
After buying I instantly had nothing but problems with this chromebook. First I couldn't get connected to the internet on it, something which is required to set up and use it. After spending 2 hours on the phone with Google's tech support (they were very helpful but this review is not of them) we figured out that this chromebook is not compatible with my modem, a modem that I have had no problems with in the past and works great with all my other devices. So I decided to buy a new modem. After installing the new modem I was able to connect to the internet and the chromebook seemed to be working fine, until I tryed to go online. I quickly figured out that any time I had the chromebook turned on my internet speed instantly dropped from about 12mbps to 40kbps on all devices I had connected to the internet. After spending massive amounts of time troubleshooting it just isn't worth the hassle, this chromebook is going back. Maybe it was a lemon but I'm not going to deal with the possibility of another one being the same. I'm going back to an android tablet, which I should of done in the first place.
on January 22, 2014
Super fast Chromebook. I own a Samsung Series 3 Chromebook that was a decent system for the price but the ARM processor presents some limits in both performance and running Linux applications.
I've set up Crouton to run Ubuntu 13.10 (Saucy) and its working perfectly, including the brightness and volume buttons. I installed the the Android Development Kit Bundle w/Eclipse. The only obvious strain on the system I've noticed is that the AVD's take a little time to boot up.
Being able to switch back and forth between ChromeOS and Ubuntu on a $250 laptop that's rated for 8.5 hours of battery life is pretty awesome.
on June 6, 2014
If my screen didn't have a burned horizontal line that started after having it on the first time, it would get 5 stars, however I sent my first one back for a replacement, and the second one has done the exact same thing. I read that most of the problems these have is the screen. The screen is great out of the box, turn the thing on, then within a couple of hours this line appears, and then stays there even after the device is off. Its been growing for the past two days, so this will be the second one to send back, and hopefully the third one does not have that problem. As for speed, its pretty darn quick, can operate multiple windows open with no lag, nice feeling keyboard. I really love this device and want one that does not have a defective screen.
I would appreciate it if Acer would message me about this.
on August 6, 2014
When I first heard about the idea of chromebooks, I'll admit I was a bit skeptical. It didn't sound like the greatest of ideas to me. But price and the slim profile of the chromebook finally led me to take the plunge. I have absolutely no regrets. It's fast enough for what I need it to do, it's slim, lightweight, and highly portable. The battery life is really good as well. Having owned desktop computers, laptops, and tablets, I can honestly say the chromebook provides the best value for the amount you pay. It's true that it can't do everything a laptop can do; but it's also a lot cheaper than many laptops. All in all, if you are interested in a chromebook, I don't think you'll have any regrets if you buy it. I absolutely love my first chromebook!
on November 24, 2014
I bought this for my 9yr for use in school as suggested by his teacher, but also for use in home for internet browsing, email etc. We also use the Chromebook to stream college sports and other shows as we do not have cable. It has a great battery life, is simple to use and streams easily to the tv. I like that we can keep individual, password protected profiles to separate what is done at home from what is done at school. It easily connected to our printer via wi-fi and has performed great in every way. Best $200 I've spent in a long time!