Monday, 27 January 2014

Living With The Acer C720 Chromebook for A Month (Part 1)

google-chromebook-logo After using my Chromium OS powered Toshiba Laptop for a month and 3 days I went out and got the Acer C720 Chromebook, so I thought I'd do a follow-up series on using an actual Chromebook. I went with the Acer C720 over the rest of the Chromebook range as I wanted the compact portability of the 11.6" form factor without sacrificing the speed and battery life of the intel Celeron CPU, as the only other x86 based Chromebook on the market is the £249.99 HP Chromebook 14 which then bumps the weight up a bit and the 14" screen sort of defeats the object of getting a Ultrabook like the Chromebook. I discounted the Arm based Chromebooks as they are slightly more money for something that basically uses a mobile phone/tablet CPU and the only Arm based Chromebook that I like is the HP Chromebook 11 which I've not seen on sale anywhere in the UK.


 Processor:     intel Celeron 2955U

RAM:               2GB

HDD:               16GB SSD

Screen:            11.6" 1366 x 768

WiFi:               802.11 a/b/g/n Dualband

Pointing:        Multi touch touchpad with integrated left and right buttons

Bluetooth, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, SD Card reader/writer, 3.5mm combined headphone & microphone jack, full size HDMI out & 0.9mp webcam.

dimensions:    288 x 202 x 19mm (W, D, H)

Weight:            1.2kg

Keyboard:       Custom Chrome OS Chiclet style Keyboard

Battery Life:   8.5hrs

[caption id="attachment_1826" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Acer C720 Chromebook Acer C720 Chromebook[/caption]

The C720 is rated at a 7 sec boot time (I've not timed it) but it boots up pretty fast. the screen is pretty bright but does have a pretty tight viewing angle and seems fairly artefact free (but I've not put it through its paces yet). The Chiclet Keyboard is small due to the size of the Chromebook, but it's well laid out and is fairly easy to touch type on. The keys are pretty quiet when pressed and have a nice solid feel with a decent amount of travel. Unlike a regular Keyboard there are only 10 function keys across the top (instead of having F1-F10 labels,they have icons for the functions forwards, backwards, reload, full-screen/windowed, task switcher, brightness, brightness +, mute, volume -, volume +) then the power button , the CAPS LOCK key has been replaced by a Search button & the Delete key has been removed.

[caption id="attachment_1827" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Acer C720 Chiclet Keyboard Acer C720 Chiclet Keyboard[/caption]

The Touchpad is of a comparable size to that of one on a regular Laptop or Ultrabook and having a multi-touch Touchpad is a welcome change for a Laptop under £200. the 0.9mp webcam is a bit of a let down as it's pretty grainy in low light, but will do for Skype or Google Hangouts video calls. The battery life seems decent under medium heavy workload (will have to see what it's like under a full day of use). The build quality is solid for a budget  Ultrabook even though it's mostly plastic, and will look good when used on a Train, Plain or even Coffee Shop. As a bonus you get 100GB of Google Drive Storage free for 2 year, 60 Days of Google Play Music  All Access & 12 free Gogo in-air internet passes.




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