It’s not often that we get to review a Chromebook, although it is becoming more often these days. Typically, it’s an Acer Chromebook that we are reviewing as they make the most of them, and at all different price points. This time it’s the Chromebook 13. This is the NVIDIA Tegra K1 model with 2GB of RAM. Now Chromebooks still aren’t really optimized for an ARM chipset, so we’ll be talking about that in this review. Additionally there is only 2GB of RAM here instead of 4GB, which will also hinder performance.
I’ve used just about every Chromebook that Acer has made. And I have to say the hardware on the Chromebook 13 is probably my favorite. It actually looks and feels like a more premium Chromebook here. Which is kinda surprising as it is still under $300. The previous Acer Chromebooks weren’t super cheap looking and feeling, but the Chromebook 13 just looks and feels much nicer to me. It looks like it’s made of polycarbonate, which is still plastic but doesn’t feel as cheap. We have the white model here, which looks great with the black keyboard. It also feels like the keyboard isn’t crammed in there like with the 11.6-inch models.
As far as the ports go, we’ve got the DC connector and 3.5mm headphone jack on the right side, with a USB 3.0 and HDMI port on the back along with an additional USB 3.0 port and a SD card slot. There’s also a 720p Webcam inside that does pretty well with Hangouts. I tested it on a few hangouts calls I was on. And it worked great.
The Chromebook 13 is also pretty lightweight, which is great for tossing it into a bag, and taking it with you on a business trip (remember that most Chromebooks are eligible for some free sessions of GoGo InFlight internet.
Now Acer says that you’ll be able to get around 11-13 hours out of this thing. And they are correct. I was usually able to get around 12 hours out of the Chromebook 13. And that is just phenomenal. The only other laptops, outside of Chromebooks that I know that get that type of battery life, are Macbooks. My Macbook Pro can generally get around 8-9 hours on the battery.
On the software side, not much has changed, we are still looking at Chrome OS. There’s a few minor differences here, but not much. You still have your system icons on the right side, with your apps on the left side. Otherwise it’s basically a computer running the Google Chrome browser. There’s really not a whole lot to say here about the software. But we can talk performance. The Chromebook 13 does perform pretty well, after all it does have the NVIDIA Tegra K1 chip inside. But the only downside I see is a memory leak. I’ve found that when I don’t close Chrome for a few days, tabs start to lag. If I close Chrome and reopen it, no more lag. So it looks like there’s a memory leak somewhere, unfortunately. Hopefully that gets fixed sometime soon.
The Acer Chromebook 13 is definitely a great Chromebook from Acer. But Chrome OS still isn’t really optimized for ARM chipsets. It’s gotten better since Samsung’s first ARM Chromebook, but it’s not quite there. That said, the performance is great, and if you can find any graphic intensive games for Chrome, this is a great Chromebook to pick up. Otherwise, I’d recommend their Intel Core i3 powered Chromebook, which is about the same price and still provides a ton of power to use. As well as having a great battery.