Home > Product Review > Acer Chromebook C720 (Review)

Acer Chromebook C720 (Review)

July 25, 2014

Acer C720 ChromebookAcer Chromebook C720
Acer, Inc.
Price varies from $179 to $379 depending on hardware and features.
$199 for the C720-2800 Reviewed model

My Acer Chromebook C720 is just cool. I know that’s not a very good review, but it is in fact, cool. I love it. If there’s one computer that I always grab for writing, Internet browsing, buying stuff online, watching YouTube videos, or connecting to remote server systems to do some heavy work, it’s my trusty, little C720 Chromebook. If you’ve ever read anything I’ve written on ZDNet in my Consumerization column, you know that I sort of have a love affair with Acer. Yes, I’m afraid that it’s a one-sided affair, but it’s one that I’ve carried on for years.

I’ve purchased many Acer products and have recommended them (successfully) to my in-laws and others. Someday I’ll provide a full list of the still living models, although I can tell you that I have one, a Linux system living in my personal data center (garage) that has to be ten years old. I digress. But you see my point? I love Acer products. And the C720 hasn’t changed my mind.

The C720 is what Chromebooks aspire (Watch that pun, Acer has a line of Aspire systems) to be. They’re lightweight, powerful, stable, durable, high quality, full of features, and competitively priced. What more can you ask for? Great support, probably. Well, Acer has that. Although I’ve never had any serious problems with any of my Acer products, the two or three times I’ve used Customer Support, the agent has helped me until the issue was resolved. I’ve never disconnected from one of the online chat sessions with anything but satisfaction in my head and a smile on my face.

My Acer C720 surpassed my Acer One Netbook as my favorite computer about a week after I got it. The C720 is so fast and responsive that rivals even the most souped-up computer that I’ve ever used. There’s never any hesitation, freezing, or “Not responding” messages. And I really don’t have the patience for “Not responding” messages.

And say what you will about Google, but the Chrome browser and the Chrome OS are the best things to happen to computers since Linus released Linux back in the mid-1990s. Google aced it, in my humble opinion, with Chrome and Chrome OS.

C720_SideViews

The C720 comes in a variety of models from the most basic to the very elaborate with a touch screen, super fast CPU(s), 4GB RAM, and a larger (32GB) internal SSD. The touch screen is the big bonus feature for the Chromebook. Chrome OS isn’t Windows 8, but the operating system and computing environment is still enhanced by touch screen technology for those of us who have become accustomed to tapping and swiping our phones and tablets. Alas, my C720 doesn’t have a touchscreen, but the trackpad is very good. Sometimes, if I’m working at a desk instead of on my lap, I plug in an external mouse and I’m fine.

  • 11.6’’ (1366×768) display, 16:9 aspect ratio
  • 0.75 inches thin – 2.76 lbs/ 1.25kg
  • Up to 8.5 hours of active use 1
  • New Intel® Celeron™ processor
  • 100 GB Google Drive Cloud Storage2 with 16GB Solid State Drive
  • 30-day free trial with Google Play Music All Access
  • Built-in dual band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
  • VGA Camera
  • 1x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0
  • Full size HDMI Port
  • Bluetooth®4.0 Compatible

One thing to note about your Chromebook is that its operating system, Chrome OS, has been deemed the “most secure operating system” by Kevin Mitnick, the famous hacker turned security expert. He’s correct. I’ve performed multiple security scans over the network against the Chromebook and I can’t break into it. There’s just no available attack vector. In other words, you can feel safe using your Chromebook out in public because no one can scan your system, break into it, and grab your data.

Why it’s Frugal: The C720 is frugal for many reasons, but the most important one is features per dollar. You get a full, powerful computer for $200 that won’t require you to spend on hardware upgrades because of a newer operating system version every two years. There’s no spinning hard drive to fail on you. There’s very little heat generated from it. It requires very little electricity. It really requires no additional accessories to make it useful. And it’s an Acer product, which means that it will last for years. That’s frugal.

The C720 comes equipped with a camera (top center of the screen) and a built-in microphone located just above the function keys above the keyboard, so that you can use Google Hangouts with audio or both audio and video. If you’re a videocaster or podcaster, you can use Google Hangouts from your Chromebook and easily upload the finished product to YouTube. And you can perform those casts from anywhere that you have access to Wi-Fi or a wired network.
While your C720 doesn’t come with an Ethernet connection, you can purchase a USB-to-Ethernet network interface for under $20. There are no drivers to install or any issues. Plug it in and it works.
Using a Chromebook is a little different than using a “regular” computer. You don’t typically save anything to your local computer. You save your documents and pictures to Google Drive, Dropbox, or some other cloud-based storage service and you work 100 percent of your time on web-based applications, whether you’re editing photos, writing your memoirs, or listening to music. You’ll get used to it. Plus, if the darn thing dies and can’t be repaired (very rare), you’re only out $200. Go buy another one.
You login to your Chromebook with your Google account, which means that you have Gmail, Hangouts, YouTube, and customized search via Google.com at your fingertips. Other users can login to your Chromebook, if they have a Google account, but they can’t look at or alter any of your settings or data. This means that if you have a friend who needs to check her Gmail, you can let her do that and both of you can feel secure in the fact that both your data and hers are protected from each other’s prying eyes. The same goes for a stranger who wants to login. For this reason, Chromebooks make excellent shared/public kiosk type computers.
The C720 is lightweight at just over two-and-a-half pounds, which makes it very portable. It also features a very long battery life of up to 8+ hours. Under heavy usage conditions, such as audio/video or constant on, I’d figure on four to five hours. As with most laptop/notebook computers, it charges while you work, if plugged in.
You can look at and test the C720 at Office Depot and other stores in sort of a try before you buy fashion. I can tell you that you won’t be disappointed with the C720 regardless of configuration. I love mine. It’s my favorite computer.
Rating: 10/10
Recommendation: Buy it and love it.
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  1. July 25, 2014 at 2:12 PM

    Super!

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