Acer C710-2457 Chromebook review

Cheap Chromebook feels cheap

The good: The Acer C710-2457 is the least expensive Chromebook on the Google Play store, and comes with a set of base features competitive with Samsung’s $250 Chromebook.
The bad: Cheap-feeling Netbook-like construction, small touch pad, limited battery life and unimpressive display and speakers; plus, Chrome OS is inherently limiting for offline use and isn’t as versatile as a traditional PC. Meager 16GB of onboard SSD storage.
The bottom line: If you want one of the least expensive Web-browsing devices that feels like a laptop but is really a Chromebook, the Acer C7’s fine. But its limitations match its price.

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It's become abundantly clear at this point that Chrome OS isn't going anywhere. Google's foray into browser-driven computing is more than an experiment: Chromebooks are still hanging on in the fringes of the laptop market, and even gaining in number. So let's accept their existence, even if you don't necessarily believe in them.
For example, the Chromebook Pixel is a fine-feeling Chromebook...that costs $1,299. But Google really needs great Chromebooks at $300.
If you look in a retail circular or browse online sales, that cheap sub-$200 laptop that looks like a Netbook is probably a Chromebook nowadays -- if you aren't already looking at a tablet. But have things really changed from a year ago?
(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)
The Acer C710-2457 shows that the real changes in most Chromebooks aren't likely to be about the hardware, but about the evolution of Chrome OS itself. As a product, the "new" C7 looks a lot like the old C7 we reviewed last year, which in turn felt like an old Netbook outfitted with Chrome.
Bargain-hunters might like the simplicity of the C7, but you're still not getting something in terms of hardware that's going to beat most laptops or even cheap tablets, unless you really value a keyboard-and-touch-pad experience over touchscreen tapping. I'd recommend a cheap tablet like the Nexus 7 or spending a little more for a real-deal sub-$500 laptop, over a bargain-basement Chromebook.
(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)
Close your eyes. Open them. That Acer C7 sitting in front of you is a Netbook, isn't it? Of course it is. It even has an old VGA port sticking out the side.
Plastic, generic, utilitarian: the C7 fits all these descriptors. It won't win a beauty contest, but it packs up compactly, and its power adapter is small.
(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)
The plastic body feels undeniably budget, without the often more premium touches of many tablets. A somewhat flexible plastic top lid, glossy plastic screen bezel, and thicker-than-you'd-expect sides with ugly vent grilles complete the portrait of a product that defies any desire to show it off. I said exactly the same thing about the last C7 I reviewed, because they're basically exactly the same.
(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)
Like all Chromebooks (except the Pixel), the Acer C7 lacks a touch screen. You'll be interacting solely with the keyboard and touch pad, which are fair and subpar, respectively. The keyboard's raised, island-style chiclet keys have the same travel and shape as found in many ultrabooks, but no backlighting. Typing feels comfortable enough, with no unnecessary columns of keys on the sides. You do have to get used to the Chromebook keyboard conventions, which are subtly different: a search key marked with a magnifying glass icon is installed between the Alt and Fn keys, but the function buttons all work directly to raise and lower volume or change screen brightness, a nice plus. The keyboard feels nearly full-size.
(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)
The clickable touch pad, well, that's another story. It works reasonably well enough for basic one-finger navigation around Chrome OS, but for two-finger scrolling or multifinger gestures, it's lousy. There's no inertial scrolling, so Web page browsing becomes herky-jerky. Tap-and-drag moves were also hard to pull off consistently. It's a far cry from the smooth feel of better-made laptops or the touch screen on any tablet. And, in the 10 or so months since I last reviewed the Acer C7, it's even less impressive compared with the wonderful feel, say, of the Chromebook Pixel's touch pad. Good touch pads can be done on Chromebooks, just not on this one.
Display and speakers: Less than optimal
Look, this is a $199 device at heart. Still, tablets like the Nexus 7 manage impressive display quality in this price range. The 11.6-inch 1,366x768-pixel-resolution display on the Acer C7 matches what you'd expect on a standard laptop, but it lacks vibrant screen brightness or colors, and images wash out at extreme viewing angles. The glossy surface throws a lot of glare, too.
The speakers don't help. Generic speakers under the chassis generate faint audio that makes your favorite movie's soundtrack sound like it's pumped from an AM radio. Heaphones are a must, but either way this isn't a killer way to watch media on the go: you're better off packing a smartphone. For e-mail and basic reading/productivity, it's a better bet.
(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)
Configurations, performance, battery life
The base $199 Acer C7 on the Google Play store has an Intel Celeron dual-core processor, 2GB of RAM and a 16GB SSD. Our review version has 4GB of RAM and costs $229 -- it's sold via Acer, at retail, and on other online sites.

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About Doru Somcutean

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