Roberto Baldwin was a reporter for The Next Web in San Francisco between April 2014 and March 2015. Roberto Baldwin was a reporter for The Next Web in San Francisco between April 2014 and March 2015.
At the Intel Chrombook event today, Acer introduced its first Core i3 Chromebook. Built for performance, the latest addition to the Acer line didn’t disappoint during a quick hands-on.
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.
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