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Acer C710-2457 Chromebook review: Cheap Chromebook feels cheap

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Last year's C7 had a 320GB standard mechanical hard drive, which at least offered a ton of local storage space compared with the competition. Some of that value's lost in the Chrome OS ecosystem, but the switch to a faster 16GB SSD also means that the C7's available space for downloaded files matches the Samsung competition. It's stingy for something that aspires to be a kind-of laptop.

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The SSD does seem to help performance a bit, but it's hard to tell; the hard drive version of the C7 was fast enough for basic Web surfing. And either way, the dual-core Intel Celeron in this Chromebook guarantees that the harder-core duties you might want to throw at this machine won't exactly feel lightning-fast.

Battery life of the C7, even this SSD-equipped version, continues to disappoint. We didn't do a standard video-loop playback test because, even though Chromebooks can do this offline, most people will use Chromebooks to stream video online. It only lasted about 3 hours doing so before needing a recharge. That's not great, but it's a little better than the last C7 did on a similar test. Keep the charger handy. For everyday tasks beyond streaming, I found this Chromebook hung in there over the course of a decent day's work, with coddling.

Like other Chromebooks, the Acer C7 comes with 100GB of added Google Drive cloud storage for two years, and credit for 12 free sessions of GoGo in-flight Internet. That helps subsidize the base cost a little more for frequent travelers.

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Chrome needs better hardware
I know Samsung has a decent $250 Chromebook, and from a pure design-and-feel perspective the Chromebook Pixel is a sleek experience, should you be willing to accept the giant price tag and subpar battery life.

But it might be time for Chromebooks to get their own affordable Nexus-level flagship designs. Or, perhaps, time to fold Android and Chrome into a real laptop/tablet killer device to make Windows 8 run for the hills.

Chrome is getting a little better all the time, and it's actually a very functional way to get work done if all you do is live in a browser on your computer -- something that I'm doing more than ever thanks to services like Google Drive. But that software success happens despite the lackluster hardware on machines like the Acer C7. And right now, I still don't see why most people wouldn't just pick a more portable tablet or a slightly more expensive but far more versatile budget Windows laptop.

Yes, you'll save up to $50 over the price of the equivalent Samsung Chromebook if you buy the C7, but just like I said last time, you get what you pay for.

Futuremark Peacekeeper browser test
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Acer C7 Chromebook

SunSpider JavaScript benchmark 0.9.1
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Acer C7 Chromebook

Streaming video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Acer C7 Chromebook

Find out more about how we test laptops.

System configurations

Acer C7 Chromebook
Chrome OS; 1.5GHz Intel Celeron 1007U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM; Intel GMA HD Graphics; 16GB SSD

HP Pavilion 14 Chromebook
Chrome OS; 1.1GHz Intel Celeron 847; 2GB DDR3 SDRAM Intel HD Graphics 16GB SSD

Samsung Chromebook Series 5 550
Chrome OS; 1.3GHz Intel Celeron 867; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM; Intel HD Graphics; 16GB SSD

Dell Latitude 10
Windows 8 (32-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Atom Z2760; 2GB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 747MB (Total) Intel GMA; 64GB MMC SSD

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