omiWhen Chromebooks first hit the market there were many who questioned their viability as a total operating system solution. After all, you just couldn’t run legacy applications on ChromeOS five years ago, and you pretty much can’t run them now. But as people’s workflows have begun to change, the way they access data has changed with them. For most regular users, students, and small businesses, the way they get data is through the web browser now and that’s why a hybrid like the Acer Chromebook R11 is ideal for those users. Read on for our full review and reasons why we pick the Acer Chromebook R11 as one of our Top Picks of 2016.
- Chrome OS™
- Intel® Celeron® N3060 processor Dual-core 1.60 GHz
- 11.6″ HD (1366 x 768) 1http://www.acer.com/ac/en/US/content/series/acerchromebookr116:9 IPS
- Intel® HD Graphics 400 with Shared Memory
- 4 GB, DDR3L SDRAM
- Model# of device as tested CB5-132T-C8ZW/NX.G54AA.012
At first glance the Acer Chromebook R11 is chunky and awkward. It doesn’t have sleek lines like a MacBook Air or a HP Spectre 13, it’s just simple. It might take you a few days to get used to this design and it seriously does get to be a very nice looking design the more you use it. While the shape and look of the R11 grows on you, the color never did really appeal to me as I think the white finish will eventually become dirty and possibly yellow.
The top of the Acer Chromebook R11 has the Acer logo as well as the Google Chrome logo and both compliment the design very well.The bottom of the R11 is where you’ll find the speakers and a crap ton of screws, should you want to open up the device for whatever reason. The spine has the 360 degree hinge which allows you to use the R11 in laptop, display, tent and pad modes giving the device extreme versatility.
Along the right side of the Acer Chromebook R11 you’ll find the power button, headphone jack, USB 2.0 port and Kensington Lock. Along the left side of the R11 you’ll find the full size SD card slot, USB 3.0 port, full size HDMI port and proprietary power port. Opening up the R11 shows off a very comfortable and really well made keyboard with lower case letters rather than uppercase. Most all of the keys are the same as any standard keyboard with the omission of the function keys. That row has buttons for volume, screen brightness, back and forth, windows view, esc and full screen mode.
The track pad is probably one of the best track pads I’ve used on a machine of this price point and certainly on a Chromebook. I still have an older Acer Chromebook tucked away in the closet somewhere whose track pad was absolute garbage, so it’s great to see Acer has more than improved in this department. The 11″ screen is glossy and looks very nice for a laptop of this price. Overall the design is really nice, even with the chunky and thicker look to it I found it pleasing to use and carry. I would have preferred black or grey, however, as I am not a fan of white.
The 1366×768 display is of course not full 1080p HD but it doesn’t have to be in this case. The display packed into the Acer Chromebook R11 is really very brilliant and colorful and I found text to be crisp and clear easy to read. Watching movies and consuming content in the various screen configurations is great and HD movies looked really good on this screen. The blacks are fairly deep and really there shouldn’t be much complaint here. Whites are spot on, no yellowing or offwhite colors on my review unit at all. Colors are pretty accurate and representative of what the eye sees, not much oversaturation going on here.
The touch part of the display is really where this display shines. The responsiveness and accuracy of this display is top notch and it’s really a great accomplishment that Acer got such a great display in a $300 price point. Scrolling was smooth and I found little to no lag while navigating the internet as well as documents and other content. Overall this display, though not 1080p, is one of the best I’ve used on a Chromebook.
The Acer Chromebook R11 runs ChromeOS, if that wasn’t already evident. ChromeOS has been growing and expanding over the years and has really become a viable solution over Windows or Mac if you’re on a budget and not needing to run legacy applications or work applications that require one of the big two. ChromeOS is dead simple as it basically runs everything through the Chrome browser. This means any office applications you want to use will be handled through GoogleDocs and email will be handled through GMail or whatever webmail you prefer. Basically Google’s thought is that most people live in their browser, which is mostly true.
ChromeOS also allows you access to the Chrome Store where you can get extensions/apps that work inside your Chrome browser. Photo editing extensions, SMS extensions, instant messaging extensions, RSS readers…the list is pretty vast and there’s a lot of versatility using extensions. While this is all great and convenient Google is trying to make things even more seamless by making Android apps work inside ChromeOS. The Acer Chromebook R11 is one of the first Chromebooks to run Android apps and one of the first to do so on the stable channel. This is a pretty big deal for those using a Chromebook and Android phone.
You can now download and install Android apps (still a work in progress) on the R11 and use those apps as if you were using your phone. This opens up a whole new world and workflow for many people, particularly students, home users and small businesses. I tested a few games on the R11 and they ran fairly well. Kill Shot worked nicely and other simple games chugged along with no issues. Heavier graphic-intensive games like Asphalt 8 worked okay, there were a few dropped frames and occasionally there was lag when trying to perform touch input. Not all Android apps will work perfectly as everything is still being worked on, but for the most part, things worked acceptably well.
Overall with the combination of ChromeOS and Android apps the R11 is just an amazing internet machine. While this will absolutely never replace an ecosystem that relies on custom applications running on Windows or Mac, it does have its own user base. Home and student use are the biggest things I can see this being used for, and it absolutely does amazingly well for that user base. There is no need for extra anti-virus software here, the price point is competitive or below that of comparable PC’s and performance is great.
ChromeOS and some Android apps on the R11 run amazingly well and the Intel® Celeron® N3060 processor Dual-core 1.60 GHz and 4GB of RAM in the tested model, everything runs very smoothly. While some Android apps are still not running perfectly well here, the R11 is going to be primarily a workstation and it does that exceedingly well.
The usual here, not amazing sound at all but acceptable in tent and display mode, very muddy in pad and laptop mode. My recommendation would be to use headphones or an external speaker system if you need quality sound.
The front HDR camera is actually really great! It worked nicely on Google Hangouts and the picture quality was exceptional for what it is.
Acer claims up to 10 hours of battery life and that is of course very dependent on how you use this machine. I found I got around 7 hours but that included using Android apps, gaming, internet, email and everything else you normally do on a phone. My screen brightness is always at 100% so I’m sure I shortened my life just with that. Your results may vary.
Price as tested is $299.99 but there are other configurations of the R11. You got all of your $299 worth here and the value is spot on.
If you’re looking for a Chromebook in this price range, or even one up to $400, the Acer Chromebook R11 is a solid choice and is one of the first to run Android apps in the stable channel as well.
*We were sent a review unit of the Acer Chromebook R11 for the purposes of this review.
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