Acer C720 Chromebook Review - HotHardware

Acer C720 Chromebook Review

22 thumbs up
Because of the confusion about the need for always-on connectivity and the resulting hesitation surrounding Chromebooks, we felt it appropriate to spend a bit of time on the issue separately from everything else.

It is true that in order to harness the full power of a Chromebook, you need to be connected to the web and logged in to a Google account. However, there is quite a bit you can do offline, and more apps are coming that will let you do even more.

First, though, let’s differentiate between the three sorts of apps you can use on a chromebook. First, there are “apps” that, as we mentioned earlier, are basically just links to websites, and those obviously don’t work when you’re not online.

The second type of chromebook app works ideally when connected but offers some functionality when not. These include Google’s pre-loaded Docs, Sheets, Slides, and a few others, as well as quite a few apps found under the “Offline Apps” section of the Chrome Web Store.



The possibilities for what you can do may surprise you. For example, you can open up a file (or create a new one) from Google Docs, because those items are synced locally to your computer. Thus, you can get a lot of work done offline, and when you’re back online, the changes will sync.


Using Google Docs offline

Or if you want to waste a little time, you can install Angry Birds to play offline and game away with no connection, which is ideal for, say, a long car ride. You can also work on your calendar, read the news, edit and organize photos, play music and movies, jot down notes, and so on. The third type of app also works offline, with the difference being that they also run outside of the browser.

The linchpin of this offline functionality, at least as it pertains to the user experience, is Files. As the name suggests, this is a basic file management tool, and it has two main sections: Google Drive and Downloads. The Downloads folder is a repository of downloaded files, sure, but it’s also where Chrome OS stashes any local files such as screenshots and the like. Under the Google Drive area, you can see all your Google Drive files, and there’s an Offline area within that so you can see which files you have synced to your local storage. You also have Shared With Me and Recent tabs, which is a simple but welcome bit of organization.



Further, any storage device you connect to the chromebook will show up as an accessible drive under Files, so you can easily expand your effective storage capacity beyond the 16GB that the Acer C720 offers.

Even though it’s clear that chromebooks offer quite a bit more in terms of offline functionality than many might think, they’re not without drawbacks. For example, if you need to use a piece of software for work that doesn’t have a web-based version or an app in the Chrome Web Store, you’re out of luck. Further, there have always been issues with formatting in Word, Excel, and other Microsoft Office documents displaying correctly in Google's alternatives, and it’s not likely that will go away anytime soon, so if you collaborate with others that frequently use Office documents, you’ll certainly run into problems at some point.
 

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I have to say, not bad at all for $249. Almost cheap enough to pick one up for the kiddos to use.

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I would be really annoyed if I bought this and then found it to be at all noisy. I just loath computer noise, and the Samsung and the HP chromebooks have no fans, just an ARM (phone / tablet) CPU. So it would make as much noise as a tablet. Is a Haswell CPU much noisier than a tablet? If it isn't, then the Acer wins as my chromebook of choice...

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The thing is quiet as a damn church mouse. Seriously.

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I have an older Chromebook and I absolutely love it. This new Acer is even better. You will be able to hear the fan kick in from time to time as it has an Intel processor that does require some cooling. The only detail I'm not 100% satisfied with is the screen. I would prefer a slightly larger form factor, say 12" or 13", and an IPS screen. This is still a fantastic value as is.

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My Acer just died after slightly less than a year. Acer is trying not to honor the warranty. I'll definitely get another Chromebook, never another Acer product.

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Why did the author not compare this to the Samsung Series 5 550? That would have been more meaningful.

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Yes, it would, but we haven't tested one of those.

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I've never really taken Chromebooks seriously because I was never really sold on Chrome OS. I was never sold on Windows 8 either. It wasn't until I really tried Windows 8 for everyday browser/multimedia use on the Lenovo Yoga 11S that I realized Windows 8 was worth getting used to. With regard to Chrome OS, I think I'd venture to say the same if I tested it on say the C720P variant of this that offers touch screen.

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Love this thing EXCEPT I HATE the fact that SD card juts out!!! Why do laptop manufacturers do this? You're telling me that they can't find another half inch!? Jeebus!

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You know jra716, that's an interesting comment. When using smallish (10 inches or so) Windows 8/RT devices, I find myself frequently using the touchscreen capabilities, and I expected the same with the chromebook. But honestly, I never really found myself reaching for the chromebook's display, and I didn't miss the touchscreen function at all.

Windows 8 is of course built with touch in mind while Chrome OS is not, so there's that. Unless you're totally in love with touchscreens, I'd suggest trying out a Chrome OS device that lacks it and see what you think. You, like me, might be pleasantly surprised.

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