The Chromebook scene has really started to evolve lately. This time last year, I had just picked up the Samsung Chromebook. You know the one running on the Exynos 5 dual-core chip. I was quite happy with it at first. But over some time I began to notice many problems with it. Which pretty much turned me off from the Chromebook scene. I still like the idea, but came to the conclusion that a Chromebook isn't for me. But who is a Chromebook for? It's for those that do light to medium web browsing on your laptop. If you're someone that does everything in Chrome, then a Chromebook is probably perfect for you.
A few months ago, Acer announced the Chromebook C720 (and they announced a touch screen version of the Chromebook earlier this week). The Acer C720 is quite an upgrade from the original C710. It's including 4GB of RAM and a 16GB Solid State Drive. It's also sporting an Intel Celeron processor, which is a Haswell processor, which means the battery life is crazy. But we'll get to that a bit later. The C720 is actually the best Chromebook I've used under $500. Yes, the Chromebook Pixel is still my favorite Chromebook, but I really can't recommend it to everyone.
For a Chromebook that is priced at $250, I wouldn't expect great build quality, but at least being able hold it without hearing it creak, which you couldn't do with the Samsung Chromebook. As far as the build quality goes, the Acer Chromebook is actually quite good. It's very similar to the original Acer Chromebook, the C710, in fact it's almost a mirror copy of it. Which is expected, since the original was a great build quality, so why change it? As far as the ports go, on the left side you've got the headphone jack, USB port, HDMI port, and the port for the power adapter. On the right side there's the SD card slot and another USB port.
Now the screen is adequate for a 11.6-inch screen, but I would have liked to see a bit higher resolution, and here's why. My normal laptop is a HP Envy 15.6-inch which has a 1920x1080 resolution IPS display.Then going to a 11.6-inch 1366x768 resolution display, it's really a huge difference. Now many of you may not agree with me, but it's true.
The keyboard is pretty good too. I'm a fan of the island style keyboards. Much like the other Chromebooks out there, the Acer C720 has a few keys that are different. The Caps Lock key is actually the search key and all the F1-12 keys are remapped. So the top row is ESC, Back, forward, refresh, expand, screen grab, brightness, and volume, with the power button all the way at the right side. There's no Windows key of course, and there's also no number pad. You're stuck with the numbers in the row above the third row of letters.
So this is the big thing with the Chromebook from Acer. It's running the Intel Celeron 2955U processor which is clocked at 1.4GHz and is a Haswell model, so battery life is insane. The processor does actually hold up quite well. I've been using the C720 for a little over a month now and haven't noticed any hiccups at all. Which is also a great thing. And something I hated about the Samsung Chromebook. The C720 also has a 4GB and 2GB of RAM choices. The one I have here has 4GB of RAM. And multi-tasking is great.
I really can't say enough about the battery life on the Acer C720. Acer promises about 7-8 hours of battery life. But I've consistently been getting 9+ hours of battery life from the Acer C720. The C720 has the best battery life on a "laptop" I've had in a while. And I'd attribute part of that to Haswell and part to Chrome OS to being so light-weight.
It's running Chrome OS, which hasn't changed too much lately. But it's basically just a browser. What's great about Chrome OS is that Google Drive is your file system, for the most part. The C720 also gives you 100GB of Google Drive space for free for two years. You've got the app launcher as well in your "taskbar" at the bottom with your settings on the right side. On the Acer C720, Chrome OS is flying on this Chromebook. And yes I'm using the stable build, as I didn't think it would be fair to review a Chromebook on the beta or developer version of the OS.
The Acer C720 is definitely a good buy. But before you decide to buy it, I'd suggest that you go ahead and see if you can live in just a web browser. Because that's all Chromebooks are, is a web browser. Now if you can do all your daily tasks in Chrome, then the Chromebook might be perfect for you. And if it is, I'd recommend the C720 as your first choice, unless you want a larger Chromebook, then you might want to check out the HP Chromebook 14. As most other Chromebooks are around 11-12 inches for their display.