I’ve been spending the last two days at the ND Google Apps Summit taking place in Grand Forks, ND. Since it’s a Google summit, I figured this would be a good time to break out one of the Chromebooks we purchased for students and give it a rundown as my sole computer for the conference, instead of bring my beloved Thinkpad T420 with. Let me tell you, this was a good choice. Read on to find out why.
The Acer C720P is the touchscreen variant of the C270 line. It has the same processor, storage, screen size and resolution as it’s sibling, but it adds another 2 gigs of ram for a total of 4, and includes a lovely touchscreen to the package. Now, I’m not usually a big fan of touchscreens, as I feel I have a perfectly good keyboard and mouse sitting in front of me so why do I need to struggle with tapping a screen? The C720P hasn’t changed this for me, but it has started me to see why people could really like them. I’ve broken my review down in the following paragraphs, with some of my impressions:
The hardware of this device is one of the most solidly built Acer devices I’ve ever used. I’ve usually associated Acer with cheap devices, with flexible plastic and a questionable longevity. The C720P has changed this for me though, as it feels nice and strong. There’s no flex in the palm base, nor in the keyboard. The keyboard is the ever popular chiclet keys, but they have a good amount of travel and are responsive. One thing I didn’t like is that the keyes are not 100% perfectly aligned with the holes cut into the baseplate, allowing for uneven spacing. It doesn’t affect typing, but it does make it look funny to me. Minor caveat, but one that affects me.
The screen is plenty bright, and has decent viewing angles. Since it is a touch screen, it is of course a glossy finish, which tends to be highly reflective. As I’m typing now, I can see the faint outline of my hands on the keyboard, moving away. Bit distracting, but not a horrible thing.
The processor is plenty strong for the workload presented to it, and the extra 2 gigs of ram is welcome. I haven’t found something that made me think the device is slow. Compared to my Samsung Chromebook from last year, this thing flies. Loading up Gmail or other sites work great, and using Secure Shell and other extensions works fantastically.
Plenty of ports, with HDMI, USB2.0, USB3.0, headset/mic combo port, and SD card reader. Haven’t needed more than that in quite a while. I wouldn’t say no to a VGA port, but thats to hook into legacy projectors.
The software running on this machine is ChromeOS. I won’t cover on it very much, as many others have, but let me tell you, it works. I’ve been using this with no problems for the last two days, everything I needed to do, it was right there. If it wasn’t natively installed, the web store had something that could work for it. 2x RDP for remote desktop, Secure Shell for SSH, Pixlr for image editing, WeVideo for video editing. I’m really impressed with the amount of stuff that can be done with this software.
I wasn’t expecting to like the C720P as much as I do. I’ve found the touchscreen to make scrolling an easier setup than before with the mousepad. The performance is fantastic. Screen is bright. I’d like the keyboard to be relooked at, so that it doesn’t get off alignment again, but thats not a deal breaker at all. I’ve been wanting to update my chromebook at home, and I may have a hard time now to not go out and pick one of these up. I’m still keeping an eye out for the Asus C200 and C300, for the new baytrail processors, but it’ll be tough to hold out on it.