Oct 21 2014

Product Review: Acer Chromebook C720 Is Ready for Class

Incredibly fast and light Chromebook offers a productive alternative to full-blown notebook computers.

Booting up in less than six seconds, the tiny 2.76-pound Acer Chromebook C720 offers a streamlined interface, robust security and collaboration options that students and faculty alike can appreciate.

Running the Google Chrome operating system, the C720 provides users with access to the thousands of apps in the Chrome Web Store. Collaboration and study tools such as Google Docs come preinstalled on the notebook's 16-gigabyte hard drive. Although many apps require an online connection to run, most productivity programs also work offline. Even better, the Chromebook supports the creation and editing of Microsoft Word documents on- or offline.

A 1.4-gigahertz Intel Celeron processor, a member of Intel's new Haswell chipset, powers the C720. That's more than enough for quick app performance and multitasking. During testing, performance did not degrade, even with eight apps running and 10 tabs open simultaneously in the Chrome browser. A beautiful 11.6-inch, LED-backlit 1280-by-720 display matches the recording capability of the Chromebook's high-definition webcam. Graphics are brilliant and color is accurate, whether content comes from a website or is recorded locally.

The C720 also makes for a nice teleconferencing platform that's easy to use, with two surprisingly loud stereo speakers and HD-audio software support for accurate sound.

USB 3.0, USB 2.0 and HDMI ports, as well as an SD card reader, are available. Unlike many other devices, everything plugged into the C720's ports is ready in a second or less; some devices, such as mice, have no delay at all.

Despite streaming an HD video and excessive web browsing, the battery held out for eight hours and 10 minutes before low-battery warnings began to sound. It took just over an hour and a half to get back up to a full charge.

Given its low price, the C720 could become a valuable tool on campus: Students and project teams can collaborate, communicate, work online and make use of many apps without the added complexity or heft of a traditional notebook computer.

Acer Chromebook C720

Dimensions: 8x11.3x0.8 inches
Weight: 2.76 pounds
OS: Google Chrome
Screen: 11.6-inch HD widescreen LED
Processor: 1.4GHz Intel Celeron processor
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics with 128MB of dedicated system memory
Storage capacity: Solid-state drive, 16GB
Memory: Up to 4GB
Wireless: Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0
Ports: USB 3.0, USB 2.0, HDMI, SD card slot, headset jack
Audio/Visual: Front-facing HD camera, stereo speakers