Unless you’re using a Google Chromebook Pixel with a Core i5 processor, Chromebooks are generally pokey computing affairs. While loading Chrome apps and sites isn’t exactly performance intensive, the snail-like speed of those Chromebooks becomes noticeable next to mid-level Windows or OS X notebooks. The Acer C720 removes that sluggishness in a $349 package–far less expensive than the Pixel’s $1,299 price at launch.
Thanks to the notebook’s 4th-gen Intel Core i3 chip, the Chrome browser launched and loaded more quickly than any other non-Pixel Chromebook I’ve seen. Launching Google apps–including multiple Drive documents–was a breeze with nary a hiccup. Google even pre-bookmarked a racing game and adventure game onto the C720 for testing. While the Google Drive doc tabs were still open, I launched both games. Even while loading the adventure game, I saw no lag or stuttering while skidding around SKID Racer track.
The Acer won’t replace an ultrabook or MacBook Air, but at $349, it’s a solid performer. But, that price point means that you’re not going to get the high-quality screens found on those other devices. At 1366 x 768 pixels, it’s hard not to notice the lower resolution compared to higher-end Windows and OS X notebooks. It’s not a horrible experience, but once you’ve become accustomed to a higher definition display, it’s hard to go back.
The build quality of the case is also on par with its $349 price tag. It doesn’t feel cheap or flimsy, but it is plastic and feels like a notebook from five years ago. The keyboard felt solid, but probably a little too recessed for my taste. And finally, the trackpad was responsive, but heavy taps created the tell-tale “thwak” noise of a plastic construction.
With my limited time with the Acer C720, I was impressed with its speed and power. Its build quality is on par with its price point, but it doesn’t feel cheap. If you’re looking for a quicker Chromebook experience or a second laptop that runs smoothly, it could be a nice addition to your bag.
The $349 Acer C720 will be available during the back-to-school shopping season according to Acer.