Acer C720 Chromebook Review

Design and Build Quality

The first thing you notice about the Acer C720 Chromebook is how surprisingly light it is. The spec sheet says that it’s 2.76 pounds, but you’d swear that it’s even lighter than that. The whole package is compact without feeling small. The 11.6-inch form factor just might be a sweet spot for super-portable lappies, because once you open the lid you completely forget that the display isn’t dramatically larger than a 10.1-inch tablet.

The Acer C720’s display has a pleasing matte finish and a solid but not spectacular 1366x768 resolution. The display can recline to roughly 135 degrees, and the hinges feel sturdy enough to keep the lid held securely in place whatever the orientation. For that matter, the body doesn’t flex at all despite it’s thinness. There’s a glossy black bezel about half an inch thick surrounding the screen, and the keyboard area has a cool metallic gray finish.

The whole keyboard area is a strength of the Acer C720. The chiclet-style keys are sufficiently large, and they're in what appears to be a fairly standard Chromebook layout. You get all the typical keys except for the numpad, the Delete key (although there’s a Backspace key), and the “F” keys.

There are, however, several special function keys running along the top of the keyboard area. There’s an ESC key, left and right navigational keys, web page reload button, full-screen toggle key, next window key, screen brightness up/down, mute and volume buttons, and a search key.

The touchpad is large enough and comfortable to navigate with, and the smooth plastic surface feels comfortable even after prolonged use. You can move the cursor or click with one finger, right-click with a two-finger press, and scroll up/down or left/right with two fingers, too. You can also click an item with one finger and use the second finger to drag and drop it somewhere.

There’s an ambient light sensor above the function keys, and next to that is the internal microphone. The right side of the machine has a Kensington lock port, a USB 2.0 port, and an SD card reader. On the left side you’ll find a 3.5mm headphone/mic jack, a USB 3.0 port, HDMI port, and the power jack.

The stereo speakers are located on the bottom of the machine, and for laptop speakers, they offer a satisfactory experience. We wouldn’t describe them as producing room-filling sound, but if, for example, you had some tunes or a podcast playing while you were working in the kitchen, the Acer C720 would give you decent volume without any distortion. Dynamic range isn’t great, but at least it’s balanced, and it doesn’t sound tinny or thin. For such a small machine, we were impressed with the audio quality overall.

The camera was less notable. Acer clearly wasn’t shooting for the moon with the built-in webcam, so accordingly it offers the sort of quality you’d expect from a webcam in that it’s sufficient for video chatting.

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