Acer C720 Chromebook Review

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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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Dave_HH one year ago

I have to say, not bad at all for $249. Almost cheap enough to pick one up for the kiddos to use.

SimonGray one year ago

I would be really annoyed if I bought this and then found it to be at all noisy. I just loath computer noise, and the Samsung and the HP chromebooks have no fans, just an ARM (phone / tablet) CPU. So it would make as much noise as a tablet. Is a Haswell CPU much noisier than a tablet? If it isn't, then the Acer wins as my chromebook of choice...

scolaner one year ago

The thing is quiet as a damn church mouse. Seriously.

DouglasBaumwall one year ago

I have an older Chromebook and I absolutely love it. This new Acer is even better. You will be able to hear the fan kick in from time to time as it has an Intel processor that does require some cooling. The only detail I'm not 100% satisfied with is the screen. I would prefer a slightly larger form factor, say 12" or 13", and an IPS screen. This is still a fantastic value as is.

Serena Hickey one year ago

My Acer just died after slightly less than a year. Acer is trying not to honor the warranty. I'll definitely get another Chromebook, never another Acer product.

ThomasCrowley one year ago

Why did the author not compare this to the Samsung Series 5 550? That would have been more meaningful.

scolaner one year ago

Yes, it would, but we haven't tested one of those.

jra716 one year ago

I've never really taken Chromebooks seriously because I was never really sold on Chrome OS. I was never sold on Windows 8 either. It wasn't until I really tried Windows 8 for everyday browser/multimedia use on the Lenovo Yoga 11S that I realized Windows 8 was worth getting used to. With regard to Chrome OS, I think I'd venture to say the same if I tested it on say the C720P variant of this that offers touch screen.

AnthonyKim one year ago

Love this thing EXCEPT I HATE the fact that SD card juts out!!! Why do laptop manufacturers do this? You're telling me that they can't find another half inch!? Jeebus!

scolaner one year ago

You know jra716, that's an interesting comment. When using smallish (10 inches or so) Windows 8/RT devices, I find myself frequently using the touchscreen capabilities, and I expected the same with the chromebook. But honestly, I never really found myself reaching for the chromebook's display, and I didn't miss the touchscreen function at all.

Windows 8 is of course built with touch in mind while Chrome OS is not, so there's that. Unless you're totally in love with touchscreens, I'd suggest trying out a Chrome OS device that lacks it and see what you think. You, like me, might be pleasantly surprised.

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