When Google released the design of its Chromebook, Acer was one the first to release a commercial model -- and its original version has now evolved into the C720 with some significant improvements.
Unlike some competing Chromebook realizations, the Acer C720 offers a full fledged Chrome browser and not a stripped down mobile version. This is important because unlike the traditional PC-OS based notebooks and netbooks we have become used to, a Chrome book depends entirely on the browser for all its functionality. Indeed it is a bit of a shock to see the machine open to an almost empty screen with just a Chrome icon to click open.
The huge upside ofcourse is that this screen opens in something like 5 to 7 seconds after one has switched on the machine -- what a huge change for Windows users who have had to wait longer and longer with every iteration of the OS! Shut down is a cinch too and for me this superfast boot, wakeup and shut down is something I have been waiting for -- over 30 years of PC usage.
Since all of Chrome's tools reside on the Net, this machine virtually forces one to be a Google registered user. Of course there is a 'guest' mode of using the C720, but unless you log into your GMail account, you can't access the features that come bundled -- like access to Google docs and other office tools. Nor can you save and retrieve your work without Google Drive -- the onboard solid state storage is just 16 GB and the RAM is 2 GB.
The C 720 has built in 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi and this is primary way to go online. Without a lot of hard disk baggage like pre installed office tools, the machine seems quite fast: it is powered by dual core Intel celeron processor clocking 1.4 GHz. The 11.6 inch LED/LCD TFT display is not the best for the Chrome book class of machines -- some competitors offer IPS display -- but frankly I have not been able to tell the difference. I viewed some HD videos off YouTube and they ran smoothly enough.
On the plus side, I don't know of many Chromebooks which offer one USB2 2 port as well as a USB 3 port in addition to the SD card slot. The built in web cam ensures you can do Skype-type calls with the C720 and the HDMI port -- again not too common in comparably priced Chromebooks is useful to connect with larger displays like TVs .
Just 1.9 cms thick the machine is super light at around 1.25 kg. For most of us it will take some getting used to -- a "PC" that is entirely browser based for all functionality. But if you are looking for a device that provides the ease of use and simplicity of a tablet without the weight and cost of a Windows-type netbook or notebook, but with a larger keyboard and the feel of a standard laptop-- and yes, if you want to say goodbye to interminable waits for boot up -- the Acer Chromebook C720 may be the answer to your prayers.
Available in India for Rs 22,999. More info here
March 11 2014