Acer Chromebook 15 review

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The Chromebook 11 C740 is perfect for students on a budget or anyone needing a small and light machine they could take with them anywhere. But Acer has a much more powerful Chromebook in its lineup this year. Enter Acer’s Chromebook 15, a true powerhouse for all of your office needs. It’s also perfect for entertainment with its crisp Full HD display.

It’s an impressive machine, and it may be the only Chromebook you’ll ever need.

Design

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This is no compact laptop. With such a large display, it needs to have a bigger housing. The new Chromebook 15 wants to be the machine that can meet all of your needs, and in doing that, portability isn’t the focus. At almost 5lbs, I’d hardly call the Chromebook lightweight, but it’s fairly easy to carry around.

Its housing sports a white-colored textured design, which looks alright while very generic. It has a microweave pattern, keeping the Chromebook from looking too generic, but that comes with a lot of downsides. The Chromebook 15 attracts dirt and grime way too easily. If you don’t clean it often, the dirt and grime it collects from sitting on your desk gets difficult to remove, making it a real eyesore.

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The Chromebook is also oddly thick. You’d think a machine like this would have a certain amount of thinness to it with having such low specifications.

As far as the keyboard goes, it’s frustrating in that it’s not spacious enough. It resembles that of the compact C740 (and the Chromebook 13 from 2014). It’d be natural to think that a larger Chromebook would come with a more defined keyboard footprint. The trackpad is very responsive, and there’s little jump to it.

There are certainly a lot of pitfalls as far as design goes. It all feels so very generic, which isn’t something you want out of a pricier Chromebook. However, if you bought this Chromebook for media, you’re in luck.

Hardware

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The Chromebook 15 has a 15.6-inch Full HD (1920×1080) display that shows media beautifully. Not only is it great for media, but the larger size allows you to manage more browsers, tabs, and other applications easily. There are also two front-facing speakers placed on either side of the keyboard, which sound good.

The model I was sent to review is the CB5-571-362Q, the unit with a Full HD display. Interestingly, Acer isn’t advertising this, but it’s actually an IPS panel, an interesting choice that doesn’t allow for those nice wide-viewing angles, and the matte finish evokes little glare. Other configurations of this model with a much less enthusiastic display, which in turn bring the price down.

On the left side of this unit is your power, an HDMI port, a USB 3.0 slot, and an auxiliary port.

On the right side is a SD card reader that can support up to 128GB of extra storage, and a USB 2.0 port. With this model you also get dual-band 802.11AC WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0.

Finally, above the screen is a 720p HD webcam along with a microphone.

Performance

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Inside the Chromebook 15 is a fifth-generation Intel Celeron processor, 4GB of RAM, and a wicked fast removable M.2 32GB SSD. This is possibly the most interesting aspect of the Chromebook 15’s hardware. The SSD is small in size, but if you were to ever need more room, there’s potential for breaking into the Chromebook and swapping it out for a larger capacity SSD.

Most probably won’t need more space than that on the Chromebook, given that all of your documents are in the cloud, but its a nice possibility for the power user. Beyond that, everything was smooth as expected. There were no hangups in testing, and things were generally faster and smoother than previous models. This machine boots up in an advertised 7 seconds. I even found it could do so in 5 seconds.

As far as performance goes, Acer did a fantastic job. I really like the ability to pop open the machine, something that many manufacturers are moving away from.

Battery

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As per the norm on a Chromebook, battery life is out of this world. It’s frustrating having machines that only last two, three, maybe four hours of use, which is all commonplace as far as Windows laptops go. Not that that’s a bad thing. Windows laptops have much more powerful hardware than you’ll ever find in a Chromebook.

Acer understands the users’ needs for a long-lasting battery, and thus, threw a monster 3220mAh battery in here that can last up to nine hours of consistent use. In other words, you can get a full 8-hour work day from the Chromebook 15, even longer if you aren’t using it for eight hours straight. Very impressive.

Software

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As you might expect, Acer’s Chromebook 15 is running the latest version of Google’s Chrome OS. Everything runs smoothly, applications open quickly, and the marketplace is constantly expanding with more applications, thus making a Chromebook even more useful.

For those not familiar with Chrome OS, it does require an Internet connection, though there’re ways to create documents offline, making an Internet connection not constantly necessary. You’ll need to connect up when it’s time to sync your documents to the cloud for access on another computer.

Honestly, there isn’t much to say here. Chrome OS, is still, well, Chrome OS. It’s not for everybody, as you can only access cloud-based applications. There’re no native Windows or Mac apps on this machine to be seen, though there’re ways to boot another operating system on here if you ever get tired of Chrome. However, at that point, you’ll see a serious drop in battery life and most certainly performance. And in that case, you mine as well have bought a different laptop.

Closing

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The suggested retail price is $ 449, though you can buy it from the Google Store starting at $ 349, and other retailers may even have their own markdowns. Several other models start at $ 249 from various retailers, such as Amazon and Newegg.

When it comes down to it, the Acer Chromebook 15 is a nice machine specifically for media. That large and crisp 15.6-inch display paired with the dual speakers make for a great movie night or YouTube session, but at $ 349, it’s a very generic Chromebook that may leave you wanting to look elsewhere.

[Acer] [Google Store] [Amazon] [Newegg]

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