Update: The C720 Model I used in this review has been discontinued. Please read the paragraph below the final scores for more info
Last week I finally got my hands on the Acer C720 Chromebook. My first impressions of the device were simply outstanding. The C7 was fast, built well, and looked great. Now that I’ve been able to use it for a week, I can give you a full review.
The Acer C720 is a beautiful laptop in my opinion. It’s design is great is almost every aspect. The color was a great choice and contrasts well with the Chrome and Acer logos on the outside. The paint, while a fingerprint magnet, seems to me like it will stand up to the test of time much better then Samsung’s Chromebook from last year which is what I previously owned. On the bottom there is no paint but instead a black plastic shell with stereo speaker grills, some FCC information, and a cooling area. Since the C720 has an Intel processor it requires a fan which unfortunately means that this is by no means a silent computer. The fan is noticeable if you are in a silent room, but if you have the TV or maybe some music on in the background you won’t ever notice. The webcam isn’t exactly mind-blowing but for a quick Hangout call I can’t complain.
The keyboard is also pretty good. I had no problems adjusting from my Samsung Chromebook’s keyboard since they are almost identical. The keys are very responsive and didn’t present any problem to me. I would have liked to see backlit keys but for a $249 Chromebook I’m more than willing to overlook that. The trackpad is also very nice. It is responsive and actually slightly quieter than my Samsung’s when you click it. The only complaint I have is that it is a bit smaller than the Samsung’s. This make dragging things across the screen a little difficult but a quick adjustment in the settings took care of that issue.
The screen is also fairly good. It is by no means something to brag about but it’s definitely not a bad display. When compared to the almighty Chromebook Pixel or even the competitive HP Chromebook 11, the Acer’s display isn’t too good. It’s exactly the same one found in last year’s Samsung Chromebook.
The battery life is also very good. On an average day which normally involves writing articles, checking my Google+, and sometimes some Netflix, I am generally able to get 7-9 hours out of the battery. If the brightness is turned down I could expect even better battery life but I like to keep my Chromebook’s brightness at about 65 to 80%.
Like all other Chromebooks the Acer C720 runs none other than Chrome OS. Chrome OS is a great operating system in my opinion even if it can’t do everything. I have learned to use cloud services instead of traditional programs and I can honestly say I will never go back. Since Chrome OS already runs well on Chromebooks with far less power than the C720 I was expecting an incredibly smooth experience and that’s exactly what I got. From when I first booted up the C7 it already felt quicker than any other Chromebook I had previously tried in it’s price category. Even on the Beta channel, this Chromebook experienced no problems at all.
One of the places many Chromebooks severely suffer is on websites like Google+, The Verge and YouTube. With 4GB of RAM and a Haswell chip, the C7 ate these sites for breakfast. I put my regular Windows laptop that has Windows 7 with 6GB of RAM and an i7 chip and the C7 was just as fast. Scrolling was smooth and there was practically no problems with loading times or lag. Streaming video has been another place where Chromebooks have suffered in the past and the C7 had no problems. Streaming Doctor Who on Netflix was a great experience with no lag or dropped frames.
Multitasking was also a breeze. I have yet to be able to slow this machine down with open tabs. The most stress I put it under was with YouTube, Pocket, multiple Hangout chats, Google Drive, Play Music, Google+, and our website editor open all at the same time. With almost any other sub-$300 Chromebook, or regular laptop, you would be seriously slowing down your machine. The combination of the Haswell chip and 4GB of RAM was definitely a great move by Acer to make a great device.
Is It Worth It?
Overall I truly believe that the Acer C720 Chromebook is the best right now. I know that the Pixel still beats it out but if you factor in price, the Acer blows it out of the water. At $249 the C720 is already a steal, but Acer has another trick up it’s sleeve announcing a variant of it with all the same specs cutting out half the RAM which takes $50 off the price. While it’s still a Chromebook and can’t run Word or PhotoShop, if it fits your needs I highly recommend it and out of every Chromebook out this holiday season, the Acer C720 is probably the best choice. I give it an 8.2 out of 10.
The C720-2844 used for this review has since been discontinued. According to Acer this is because of lack of sales. There are however several other variants of the C720 that perform nearly as well. A list of several different variants are below along with prices.
Acer C720-2848. This variant includes 16GB of SSD storage and 2GB of RAM along with the Intel Celeron Processor found on all C720 devices. This vartiant costs $199.
Acer C720-2420. This variant includes 32GB of SSD storage and 2GB of RAM. It costs $249.
Acer C720P-2666. This variant includes 32GB of SSD storage and 2GB of RAM along with a touch screen. This costs $299.
Acer C720P-2625. This variant includes 32GB of SSD storage and 4GB of RAM along with a touch screen. Logically this is the best Acer C720 option at the cost of only $329, but it’s not an easy one to buy. I would not recommend ordering this device at this time.