Acer, Notebooks, Reviews

Acer C7 Chromebook review: flawed, but affordable

Chromebook C7

The Acer C7 Chromebook is a cheap laptop.

Given that – look at it – it’s clearly a laptop. And, when you further note the £199.99/US$199.99 (around AU$191) price tag, it’s obviously cheap.

But this is a Chromebook, a thing that runs Google’s Chrome OS - essentially replacing the entire notion of an operating system with a web browser.

And while the Chromebooks that we’ve reviewed before, such as its predecessor, the Samsung Series 3, and the Samsung Series 5, are configured differently and feel different to traditional laptops, this new C7 Chromebook from Acer seems to have been designed, consciously or not, to look and to feel as traditionally laptop-like as possible.

Acer C7 Chromebook review

In doing so, though, some of whatever magic the Chromebook concept has seems to have been lost.

Chrome OS is different to the operating systems that most of us are familiar with, such as Windows 8 or Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion. You can’t just install apps you have and you know, such as Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop Elements; everything’s done through the Chrome web browser.

That might strike you as limiting, and in a way it is, but if you think about what you actually use a computer for, there’s a good chance that you either essentially do everything through a web browser now anyway – Gmail, Facebook, iPlayer and so on – or that those jobs that you currently use regular programs for could easily be switched to web apps.

Acer C7 Chromebook review

It’s worth remembering that Google’s own suite of web apps – notably its word processor and spreadsheet apps – are actually very capable, and in any case add collaboration tools that mean it’s easy for teams to work together.

It sounds like you need to be connected to the web at all times, therefore, to actually use a Chromebook, but that’s not always the case. Web apps can actually be programmed to work offline using local storage.

Google documents and spreadsheets can do this, happily switching between online and offline mode (once it’s enabled), and no matter how hard we tried, we couldn’t get it to lose a scrap of work.

Acer C7 Chromebook review

That said, the fact that the Acer C7 Chromebook doesn’t currently even have the option of a model with a SIM slot for mobile broadband – 3G or the like – is baffling.

Sure, your home, work, campus, favourite coffee shop and so on probably have free, fast Wi-Fi, and the robust offline mode of some web apps means that even if you don’t have an internet connection, your Chromebook isn’t a useless lump of plastic. But not even to offer 3G as an option seems daft.

Review from Techradar.com and is published with permission. Continue the full review here.


  • SPM

    The $249 ARM based Samsung Series 3 Chromebook is a better buy if you want a Chromebook to use as a Chromebook because it has fast 16GB Solid State Drive and a 6.5hr continuous average use, as with ultrabooks,

    The $199 Acer C7 Chromebook has a 4 hr continuous use battery life and a slow 320GB mechanical hard drive (which isn’t going to be utilised much by ChromeOS since ChromeOS uses the cloud for data storage and doesn’t install apps locally), all as with Windows budget/midrange laptops.

    The word “flawed” in the title is a bit unfair, because while it may be flawed in terms of ChromeOS use due to the low battery life and slow mechanical hard drive which doubles the boot up time from 8 to 16 seconds when compared with the Samsung Chromebooks and ultrabooks, it is no more flawed than the lot and mid-range Windows laptops that sell in their millions as it has a similar battery life and mechanical hard drive, and it has a much higher performance CPU and GPU hardware (typically double the speed) than the dual core Atom and AMD-E300 Windows netbooks and budget laptops that cost $50 more. The build quality of both Chromebooks is also better than most Windows netbooks and budget laptops, certainly those close to the same price range.

    The Acer $199 Chromebook is a better device for experienced users, computer hobbyists and tinkerers who are looking to install Windows or Linux to dual boot with ChromeOS. For this, the 320GB hard drive has a use, and I can see a big market for this for that reason. I can see this device replacing the Windows netbook market.

  • SPM

    QUOTE
    “Google documents and spreadsheets can do this, happily switching between online and offline mode (once it’s enabled), and no matter how hard we tried, we couldn’t get it to lose a scrap of work.”

    This is a feature of Google Docs rather than Chromebooks. It is impossible to lose more than a few seconds of work whatever happens, because Google docs continually sends up changes due to typed keystrokes as you type every few seconds, and these are saved on the cloud on multiple redundant geographical locales. It does this using very low bandwidth because it sends only the changes. What this means is that you can suffer flood, fire, theft of the device, the device being hit by a bus while you are typing, a direct nuclear strike etc. and whatever happens, you will only ever lose a few seconds of work. The same is also true when you use Google Docs on a Windows PC or Mac.

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  • Mike Smithson

    What’s the point of a 3G option when so many of us now have modern smart-phones with their own built-in portable hot-spots?

    In today’s world the times you need 3G are becoming increasingly limited and it is dead simple to tether your phone so you have got a connection.

    Essentially you can use your Chromebook just about anywhere that you can make a cellphone call which is hardly limiting as the review makes out.

    I’ve had my Samsung Series 3 Chromebook for nearly a month and it has replaced almost entirely my tablet and lap-top. Boot up in 7-9 seconds, no noise fan, no worries about software updates or viruses, and you’ve got a pretty impressive proposition.

  • Pingback: Acer’s C7 Chromebook Now Available in Additional Outlets – Tom’s Hardware Guide | Chrome Book Case

  • SPM

    I think this is more for schools and businesses. It is a way of getting two years worth of 100MB per month for occasional reading of email or web access when WiFi isn’t available without the danger of going over the contract limit and running up huge bills. Then on external school trips or business trips, the school or business can buy a day pass or one-off a fixed daily or weekly or monthly allowance for students/employees to use. It makes sense in this context.

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