The new Chromebook C710-2055 by Aceris a device for individuals who need a compact computer and always have an internet connection. I had an opportunity to use one for a few weeks and run a few tests to see how it works.
We have mainly Windows computers at my house. I bought one of the first Netbooks (also by Acer) which originally ran Windows 7 Basic and it is still working. It survived an entire iced tea spilled into the keyboard, being reprogrammed to run Puppy Linux, and has been my 7-year-old daughter’s school computer for the last two years. When the Chromebook came in the mail, I was pleased to see the size difference compared to our old Netbook and thought that it was going to be a bigger, stronger, and faster Netbook. But after some time using it, I found that bigger, faster, and stronger didn’t necessarily mean better.
It’s a completely different machine that has a definite learning curve.
I am used to using the Chrome browser on my Windows computers. Chrome as an operating system takes a few days to get used to since it is strictly an internet computer. Over the course of six weeks I put the Chromebook through a computer boot camp of sorts to see what it could handle, and what it couldn’t.
How long did it take to go through the tutorial? It took about thirty minutes, and then putting the new skills into practice took another day or two.
How easy is it to navigate? Similar to experiences Patricia had with the Galaxy Note 8, there was a learning curve. That being said, the navigation is deceptively simple. Really, the only thing different from Windows laptops is right-clicking is done by pressing in the middle of the track pad with two fingers together. Once I got in the routine of only using the computer for writing and internet use, we grew into a nice relationship.
How many tabs could I have open before the machine started lagging? I had about fifteen tabs open varying from text to video before the machine started thinking harder about what I was asking it to do.
How accurate is the battery indicator? (or, how long can video stream on one battery charge?) I started watching a string of Hulu videos at 5:14. When I started the videos, the battery had a full charge. It indicated 3 hours and 36 minutes left before the battery would run out. It shut off at 8:50 close to the predicted time.
How long could I work on one charge? There were similar results when using the computer for just word processing. The battery display showed around 6 hours of battery and it made it through six hours of typing emails and articles (with a smattering of surfing the internet thrown in). When the computer was not in use, it held a charge nicely. I was able to pick up the computer after a full day of not being plugged in and reply to a couple of emails on the remaining battery charge.
Are the apps in the Chrome Web Store any good? Meh. I spent most of a day scouring through the different categories of apps trying to find anything that I would use in the Chrome store. Most of the apps that would be good are “free trials” requiring you to sign up for a service when the trial ends. Others were just things like “change the color of your Facebook background.” Generally, they weren’t very useful. I did find myself going through the Chrome themes though, and adopted a Pinky Pie background for my Chrome webpage. Even though the computer was a loaner for review purposes, I still made sure to have a mash-up background featuring Harry Potter, Darth Vader, and other geeky characters.
Does the offline function work? Yes, you can work offline on documents you save to the cloud drive. But that is all. There is no internet access at my daughter’s Tae Kwondo class, so I tested over a couple of classes what I was able to complete for an article having no internet access. Basically, I could write a rough draft. I wasn’t able to put any link information or pictures in. I was quite happy with the retention of the computer to not forget what I had written while I was offline.
This being said, working offline takes pretty much all functionality away from this computer. When there is no internet, all I was able to do is type a word document.
Can I download and use Picasa since it is a Google program? Nope. I tried to download Picasa and was given a message that it is not compatible with my operating system. The Chrome Web Store offers apps that allow you access to your web albums, but not the Picasa program. I was unable to download the Gimp program, too, though I was able to go to the Chrome Web Store and add Gimp on rollApp. This means as long as I have internet access, I can edit my photographs.
The computer has 320GB of hard drive space and 4GB of RAM so I can use this computer for gaming, right? Not really. I tried downloading a game from PopCap only to get the message that I needed to visit the Chrome Web Store to find an app that could open this type file. I received the same message for downloading Gimp and iTunes. Since these are all Windows executable files, they aren’t usable on the Chromebook. Searching through the Chrome Web Store can sometimes find internet versions of the program or game you are looking for, but nothing that can be played or used directly from the computer itself.
Did I like the new Acer Chromebook? Yes, though it is not the ideal computer for my uses since I am not in an entirely WiFi community. There is no doubt that Acer puts out a reliable product. The Chromebook C710-2055 made me stick to work. I didn’t have a bunch of other windows, audio books, games, iTunes, and videos to distract me from writing. It stood up well to me asking it to do things it wasn’t built to do.
The idea of having an internet driven Netbook is a great one, if you have access to the internet wherever the computer is used. But I am not always connected to the internet, so working on the Chromebook C710-2055 from anywhere except home was difficult. I was unable to have my favorite games at my fingertips and unable to edit images as much as I would like. The Chromebook C710-2055 would probably be great for a student doing basic studying and report writing, and is affordable, costing around $280.
*An Acer Chromebook C710-2055 was loaned for testing and review purposes*
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