Acer Chromebook C720: superfast boot, ultralight

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

Anand Parthasarathy

March 11 2014