CNET First Look
Acer C7: the $199 ChromebookYes, it's cheap, but Acer's version of the Chromebook is saddled with a few unfortunate downsides you have to consider.
-Attention holiday shopper, I'm Scott Stein and this is here in front of me is he Acer C7 Chromebook. Now, you're maybe looking for a bargain basement laptop and at 199, this one of the cheapest options that you find at a store, but be forewarned, this is not any normal laptop. This is a Chromebook. In case your are not already familiar, it's Google's funny, funky side experiment in the realm of laptop like devices that browse the web, but do it with a very focused channel. It really isn't a full-fledged device like a laptop, although it can do a lot of things that it can like e-mail, web documents, even offline document editing built in to a device that, again, looks a lot like a netbook. That's because it pretty much is except with a different operating system inside. Now, what you get here is 320 gigabyte hard drive, which is a lot higher than what you'd find on typical Chromebooks. Samsung has Chromebooks that were released earlier this year used SSD up 16 gigabytes, so 320 is a lot more storage space, but you can't dive into it the way that you can with a normal laptop. What you really storing on it? Well, it be more like downloaded movies, side loaded movies, videos, pictures, that type of stuff, music files, and accessing them. You can definitely play them and you can play them when it's offline, but it's going to feel a little more like a very simple directory of files than anything that feels like a normal Windows based operating system. Now, there are downsides to this device. Number one, the battery life, which is maybe as low as 2-1/2 hours and maybe upwards of 3 depending on how you tweak settings. That's really a lot lower than any tablet that's out there. Stay tune for the full battery test that we do at CNET, but that's a downside. That's a big downside especially if you're flying in a plane and you wanna be able to use this thing when you're travelling. On the other hand, having a little thing like this that you can just web browse from and Chrome OS is very good at web browsing and doing anything that would normally do inside a browser in terms of flash based stuff or any sort of, you know, detailed online work. Well, that's all doable here, and the trackpad works well enough. The keyboard works well enough. It's not really anything shocking or surprising. There's an Intel Celeron, 2 gigs of RAM, but again, that's relative because the operating system is tuned to be much faster responding and quicker startup than your average laptop and you do have Ethernet ports here. You've got HDMI, you've got USB; that full component. No Bluetooth, but you do have WiFi obviously for getting online. And getting offline is little bit of tricky affair. You can do offline Google doc editing and you can use certain apps offline, but the Chrome web store, which runs its apps are really web based apps that don't run exactly the way you'd expect, in my experience, comparing thing you'd find on iOS or android. All told, you're kind of getting what you pay for here. This is a 199 device that could be great in a home that just wants to surf the web and doesn't like the idea of a tablet, but don't expect anything like a bargain basement laptop here. This is a very different beast with battery life that bears noting. I'm Scott Stein and that's a look at the Acer C7 Chromebook.