Chromebooks intrigue me. A clamshell laptop for half the price of a Retina iPad mini? Has to be appealing, especially for users like my wife who use a computer almost exclusively online for email and Web surfing, plus a bit of word processing.
The Register’s Bob Dormon says if you fancy a virus-free, always automatically updated laptop system, Acer’s C720 Chromebook now also offers the battery life benefits Intel’s Haswell CPU micro-architecture. And it even has a matte finish display making it a pleasant change to not do battle with overhead lights.
The Acer C720 is a pretty much Internet-dependent device, with only a nominal 16GB internal SSD, which Dormon reports seems more like 10GB when you view the Downloads folder in the Files app with the Google Drive reporting around 15GB offline. However, if you buy a C720, you can sign up with Google’s Drive cloud service 100GB free for two years. Battery life is a claimed 8.5 hours, so Google isn’t getting quite as much efficiency out of Haswell as Apple has with the MacBook Air. The C720 also has some annoying keymapping oddities and shortcomings, but there are workarounds for most of them if you dig.
The C720 at just 1.25kg and 288 x 204 x 19mm is only marginally more bulky to lug around than a 9.7-inch iPad (pre-Air) with cover, and Dorman notes while the future of the PC may well be uncertain, these lightweight, light on the wallet, low-power laptops does suggest a rather different future that isn’t in the form of an Ultrabook, if you’re prepared to make a few sacrifices.
The 16GB Kingston SSD is removable, but there aren’t many NGFF (next generation form factor) storage options to replace it with currently. You’re also stuck with using Google’s Cloud Print, even if have a printer handy. However, you can install and dual-boot from Linux, switching between them Chrome and Ubuntu without the need for restarts, and both share the same Downloads folder, so documents can be interchanged easily.
Dorman says he’s I’m warming to Chrome, but there’s a way to go yet, with useful app choices remaining very limited and the OS still feeling rough round the edges in places, and the printing limitations are as annoying as ever, but you do getan always updated, virus-free Google experience for very little money, and a dual OS set-up running Chrome and an alternative flavour of Linux is definitely appealing with the SD card slot taking care of storage expansion
For the full, detailed review, click here: