Acer C720 Chromebook Review
• Good Battery Backup
• Quick Boot up
• Loud Speakers
• Low internal storage
• Limited in Use
Since the success of its open source mobile platform Android, Google has been trying its hands on numerous little things, that make our mobile computing much more simpler and faster. To take advantage of an expanding Chrome lineage under Android’s rule, Chrome OS was given birth. Simple but limited in its work and demeanor, its world is built around the popular browser. It’s light and hence doesn’t require heavy processors to run it.
Chromebooks are the latest addition to mobile computing. Designed to make full use of the Chrome OS they are meant for surfing web and are capable of audio video playback. But most special feature of Chromebooks, apart from running chrome OS and its small and sleek form factor is a long battery backup. It’s not without a reason that many humorously call it a poor man’s Ultrabook.
Currently, HP, Acer and Samsung Chromebooks are available in India, Acer C720 being the cheapest at Rs 22,999.
Design and Built
Weighing little over a Kg, you will find the Chrome plated (figuratively speaking) Acer C720 to be very light and easy to carry around. Its smoky grey color neither pleases nor depresses but just gives it a metallic look. All over, the body is done in premium plastic and it you will know only when you tap it with your nails. It looks almost like a usual laptop or should I say an ultrabook.
The I/O ports around C720 are in fact like that on a laptop. A USB port and SD card reader is on the right side along with a Kensington security slot (if kept for use to general public). On the left, there is another USB port (faster one), an HDMI out, an audio mutijack (headphone + Mic) and charging port.
Acer C720 keyboard has the familiar QWERTY keyboard layout with Chiclet keys. The function keys are eliminated, but their shortcut functions are retained with some modifications particular to browser use. Keys like Home, End, DEL, etc. are omitted (not to mention the windows key) and I really missed them while typing or handling files on it. Nonetheless, the keyboard is a delight to use. And so is the touchpad.
Placed on a button, the whole surface of the touchpad can be press-clicked. Touching it with two fingers works as a right click and swiping the fingers in four directions scrolls pages.
Attached with two hinges to the body is an LED backlit display. Acer ComfyView screen has a matte finish to it minimizing reflections.
The 3 cell battery of C720 is in-built and hence, inaccessible. But more importantly, it takes less than 3 hours to charge the battery to full from empty and keeps the chromebook running for close to 8 hours with the wireless ON. Now that’s a bargain. Hope you have a lot to do over the internet.
As far as the hardware is concerned, Acer C720 has sufficient computing power to run the browser based OS and its apps. It has a 1.4 GHz Intel Celeron Dual core processor and 2GB of RAM.
A 16GB SSD storage helps make things faster. C720 starts up in 6.6 seconds (and shuts down in 2.2 seconds), ready to use. But I felt its major power, which might seem a bit latent, lies within the browser itself. I found the pages loading a bit faster than on a normal PC, maybe because the browser is fully optimized and forms the central part of the OS built on 64-bit architecture. So, it does work efficiently at the task it’s built for.
The only time you would feel the need for a faster processor is while viewing high resolution photographs from a pen drive or an SD card. The images in thumbnails appear as if they are being downloaded from the internet from a slow connection. I ended up copying them in its tinny storage to have a frustration-free viewing.
Acer C720 has built in audio and video players and with a bombastic set of built-in speakers, watching movies on it is quite satisfactory. And the playback can be extended to a TV or projector using the HDMI port.
C720 also has built in Bluetooth for connecting mobile devices or a Bluetooth mouse.
Working on a Chromebook
It’s true that there hasn’t been a more versatile OS on the planet than Windows. From surfing Web and watching movies to editing videos on high end software, Windows makes best use of the processors available. But due to its diverse application repertoire, it’s much more virus and malware ridden.
Chrome OS is (yet) safe from these threats as its very limited when it comes to apps. Rather, it runs apps from only one source, the Google store. But it can’t serve as a replacement to your daily use laptop. At least not yet.
Though it’s meant majorly for surfing web on Chrome and not for doing stuff like typing or making presentations, Google has created such provision using Google drive, namely Google docs, Google sheets and Google slides. The review that you are reading has been totally created on the docs and it wasn’t easy for someone who has been using MS Word. The fact that most of the auto-correct features in of MS Word are missing on it may be hard to imagine but it took me almost double the time to complete the task. There’s no first letter capitalization, no auto correct for wrong spellings and typos (like ‘hte’ that we mistakenly type for ‘the’) apart from other additional features a word processor usually has but are missing in docs.
To test its loyalty when a network connection is not available around, I disabled the Wi-Fi just when the low battery notification showed up. Now was the time to check what will happen if while on the move I lost my internet connection, would the Chromebook be able save my work. Gliding through the menus I found an option to download the document to disk in various format options. But that requires an Internet connection. So, I let it be. The countdown to battery down began in minutes. And precisely as the meter warned, the Chromebook went down.
Upon start-up, all the things turned out to be as it were before shutdown, just like what happens when a windows laptop goes out but restores all the running programs upon power up. So, it is not that network hungry. While starting to make a document, if you download a copy to disk, it can be edited and saved to disk. In fact, there are many other things that can be done on it without internet.
But I would still say that if most of your computer time on the move is spent surfing the internet and typing, this is the best device that caters to your needs. Once accustomed to its OS, you will surely find it quick and reliable. Read here a few tricks to get more out of your chromebook where I explain how your Chromebook can run Windows remotely.
A chromebook is not supposed to replace a regular PC. It can, but for heavy internet users who are mostly on the move and are ready to keep their stuff on cloud. And if you ask why not a Tablet PC with a keyboard dock, there is no strong answer to it. And though the chromebook has provision for creating documents, I would not recommend it to someone who has to do a lot of typing now and then just because of absence of a good word processor. Otherwise as a chromebook, the C720 is a good Acer product you should definitely consider it if you are planning to buy a chromebook.