- Jun 24, 2004
- Top of Virginia
You guys know I like Chromebooks. I've lately been intentional on using only my then-only Samsung Chromebook Series 3 (the original "cheap" Chromebook, with the ARM processor) as my only personal computer. It's worked well, but it is aging and some of the track pad coating is now starting to flake off. It's served me well, but was time for something else. So our 8 year old daughter inherited it and I bought me an Acer R11 from Best Buy on Black Friday for $199. This is a convertible Chromebook (the screen rotates through 360 degrees, so you can use it as a laptop or as a tablet) and I've been enjoying it quite a lot. It's currently one of only three Chromebooks that support Android apps on the stable channel (with a much broader model list supporting Android apps coming in early 2017). I must say, I'm pleasantly surprised at how well it works. It apparently has enough motion sensors so that I can run games like Xplane on it and be able to control the yoke by rotating and tilting it when in tablet mode. It has the standard entry level laptop display resolution of 1366x768, but it has what most entry level Chromebooks do not: a very bright IPS display with some type of glass on the front (to support touch). Most entry- and mid-level Chromebooks use a TN display with a dullish matte finish on it. Despite the nominal resolution, this display looks like a 4K screen next to others in its price range. I've found the glass surface to be very smooth for things like scrolling webpages by touch and pinching to zoom, etc. It doesn't attract fingerprints or smudges, either. Performance is good. It has a fanless Celeron N3060 processor with 4 GB of RAM. Predictably, there is no trouble at all with any multimedia -- it streams HD YouTube videos like a champ. I'm not a liberal user of Chrome tabs -- I never have more than 4 or 5 open at a time -- and I've not been slowed down by even the old Samsung, at least in terms of being able to handle multiple tabs at once (though it is slow loading graphics-intensive web pages). This Acer rips through what used to slow the Samsung down with ease. The keyboard is excellent -- just enough room to type without being overly large or small. Trackpad performance is okay. The quality of the physical click is great, but it doesn't seem to be all that precise when tracking your finger. It's good enough for sure, but I think it could be a little better. It's white in color, and I don't care for that. Acer does sell a "commercial/office" model that is black. It sells for $299 in a similar configuration, and the regular price of the consumer R11 is $279. The commercial version also has a quad-core N3160 processor (vice the dual-core N3060 the consumer version has), so if not buying on sale, the C738t model (as the commerical one is called) is easily the better choice for me. I'll gladly have the $100 savings, though, having bought this on Black Friday. This particular one also doesn't seem to extend or mirror the display through HDMI correctly. My Samsung and my daughter's school-issued Acer C720 does it with ease, but this one will blip the screen once or twice, and a picture will sometimes appear on the desk monitor, but not always. I will either exchange for a different one through Best Buy or contact Acer for warranty guidance on it. That's not a huge factor for me, but it should work...and this particular one seems a little flaky in that regard. Otherwise, and assuming that's just a hardware bug on this particular model, I really like this little thing -- especially for 200 bucks. Outside my company-provided laptop, I haven't used Windows for personal productivity for a long time. We do keep all of our personal budgeting files on Microsoft OneDrive, however, and I still connect to that with the Chromebook and use Excel Online for updating those files. The cloud, obviously, is what these Chromebooks live for and, used within their design intent, they work wonderfully.