Acer is quickly establishing themselves as one of the leaders in the Chromebook market. One of the reasons for this, is simply, that they produce really good Chromebooks. The other reason for their slow climb to dominance is that they release a large number of Chromebooks. As such, they are one of the companies who has invested more in the Chrome OS platform than others. Well, the company has now released their next generation C7 Chromebook and here we will be taking a quick look at what the new Acer Chromebook C740 has to offer.
In terms of the specs, the C740 comes sporting an 11.6-inch display with a 1366 x 768 resolution. On the inside, the C740 comes sporting 4GB RAM (there is a 2GB model as well) and powered by an Intel Celeron (3205U) dual-core processor (clocking at 1.50 GHz). Memory wise, this comes a standard with 16GB storage as well as the option to expand thanks to the inclusion of an SD card slot. In terms of the operating system, as this is a Chromebook, it comes running on Chrome OS while everything is powered by a 3,920 mAh battery. Additional features on offer include WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.1, two USB ports (one 3.0 and one 2.0), a HDMI port and a 3.5mm audio jack port.
Design & Hardware
Whether or not you like the look of the Chromebook C740 will depend highly on what you thought of the C720. That is the previous generation of this Chromebook and was released back towards the end of 2013. As such, almost two years is plenty of time for Acer to refresh the C7 range and that is exactly what they have done. That said, the design of the C740 does not differ massively from the C720. Which in truth, was a refreshed version of the C710. Therefore, many of the same design cues are in place, just more refined.
In spite of the obvious design similarities, the C740 does look much more refined and the small changes they have made to the feel of the device does bring a much more modern impression overall. Not to mention, that although it might receive some criticism for its lack of creative license, the age old saying "why change a good thing" springs to mind. The original C70 was a very popular option and was built to last. This one seems to be the same and possibly even built to last longer.
When it comes to the display, this is also another aspect which is reminiscent of the previous generation Chromebook. The display is a technically identical, with the same sized 11.6-inch screen and not to mention, the same 1366 x 768 resolution. This, in particular, is one of the most obvious disappointments on the C740. It would be hoped that the resolution would have seen some sort of bumping up, however, that does seem to be the case.
In terms of the physical connections on offer, the bulk of the connection are divided down each side of the Chromebook. The right-hand side of the device houses the SD card slot and one USB socket while the left-hand houses the second USB port, power port, headphone socket and HDMI port.
Software & Performance
In spite of the hardware and design generally being a little too close in line with the C720, that's not to say it is a bad thing. Unfortunately, when it comes to the software and performance, little has changed from the C720 and this is probably not such a good thing. To be clear, the processor inside the C740 is the aspect which had been modernized the most and seen the biggest upgrade from the C720. Therefore, the C740 does run much smoother. The upgrade to the Celeron 3205U from the 2955U has made a big improvement. Of course, this is to be expected on a close to two-year later device, but it is still worth pointing out. The C740 does run extremely well and overall is a very fast little Chromebook. However, with the display adopting the same size and resolution to the previous generation, if you were in the habit of comparing to other devices, you might find the performance of the display quite disappointing. It is fine, and will offer you a viable way to watch your movies, surf and so on. But it is not the sharpest display in the world and does underachieve for this sort of price bracket in 2015...when compared.
Personally, the speakers is normally a good example of the quality of the product and by using this yardstick, the C740 was again a little disappointing. The volume of the C740 is fine and it does fill the room. However, the quality is a little underwhelming. Part of this will obviously be attributed to the fact that speakers are positioned on the bottom of the device, which in reality is not ideal for a device anymore. But positioning aside, the speakers just lacked any depth of sound and again, especially for a Chromebook in this price bracket.
The other point to note is the actual software. Generally speaking, this is Chrome OS and therefore, there is unlikely to be too much variation compared to what else is available. Although, it is always worth pointing out that Chrome ran fine when testing. On occasion, devices can be quite stuttery and even with the 4GB RAM on offer. This was not the case when the C740 was tested and the Chromebook always ran smooth. Not to mention, the tracking on the trackpad was nicely responsive without any issues being noted. Likewise, the gestures common to Chrome OS also proved to be implemented to a good degree.
Common with the Chromebook industry, in general, battery life is pretty much a thing of the past. In spite of their size, Chromebooks are generally lightweight items and offer the user a great level of value for money when it comes to battery life. The Acer Chromebook C740 is no different. When testing, the small C740 was easily able to achieve six to seven hours of usage on a charge before needing to scramble for the brightness key. As such, it will get you through your average daily usage relatively easy.
In reality, the likelihood of whether you will like the C740 is highly dependent on what you thought of the C720. If you owned the C720 previously, then you might find yourself disappointed a little, with what the C740 brings. That said, if you loved the C720 then you will love the C740 too. After all, it is very much the same Chromebook, but faster, smoother and refined in many minor respects. If you had never used the C720, then you will enjoy the C740. On its own, it is a great Chromebook, it is well built, it is portable and it performs well under testing. At the price of $279.99, it is at the steep-end compared to a number of the options currently available for an 11.6-inch display form factor. But all that said, it is an Acer Chromebook and it will serve you well.