Top positive review
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Detailed review of probably the best Chromebook on the market today
on October 24, 2014
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. ***