In the past I was not so convinced by Chromebooks, they represent an odd middle ground between an Android tablet and a full notebook. However, after reviewing the Acer Chromebook 13, my opinion was changed. Now my opinion is that they are more functional than an Android tablet while being able to perform well using less powerful hardware.
To make things even more compelling, Chromebooks are will soon be allowed to install Android Apps, and the Acer Chromebook R11 will be one of the first devices that is capable of doing this.
In terms of specification, it is quite similar to some of the other low-cost notebooks I have reviewed recently which includes:
- Intel Celeron N3150 1.6 GHz (2 MB Cache)
- 2GB DDR3L Onboard Memory
- 32GB Internal Storage
- 6-inch 1366 x 768 pixels Touchscreen,
- Intel HD Graphics
- Bluetooth 4.0
- 1 – USB 3.0 port
- 1 – USB 2.0 port
- 1 – HDMI port with HDCP support
It is currently available via Currys for £199.99 which does make it a bit more expensive than some of the cheap convertibles I have used recently.
However, unlike the recent notebooks I have received the design and build quality of the Acer R11 seems to be excellent, it has a very sturdy build, with a smooth but firm flappable panel. It is made out of a matt white plastic and an expensive-feeling textured lid. The superior build quality does add some weight to the device, though, it comes in around 1.25 kg whereas devices such as the ASUS Transformer Book T100HA and Lenovo Miix 300 are around 650g. This isn’t a major concern for me, 1.25KG is pretty easy to lug around and I had serious issues with the build quality of the Lenovo, so Id sooner have a weightier product that is more durable and usable.
This convertible also comes with 2 USB ports, one being USB3 the other USB2 as well as an SD card reader. These 3 features are pretty important for me as it allows me to store media on external drives when I am travelling such as TV and Movies. This doesn’t sound like much but the Lenovo Miix 300 had poor and unreliable connectivity options.
The keyboard is excellent for the size and price of the device; it is quite comfortable to spend an hour or so typing something up if needed.
The laptop itself runs decently. It is not amazing, but it is more than adequate for casual browsing, or working in short spells when travelling. I did get some slowdowns when running multiple chrome tabs, but overall it ran well.
While I was away working it managed to play several 1080P files without a glitch via a USB external HD.
Being a Chromebook, it is largely reliant on the cloud. Storage is very limited, and a lot of the functionality does require some form of internet access. This could obviously be an issue for some, but I find most places where I take a device like this has some form of WiFi to connect to. Google’s Drive apps are available offline, so it is still possible to work when offline if needed.
I quite like the way it tried to automatically backup any photos that are stored on external media to Google Drive. This is a handy feature when blogging as I take quite a few photos and store everything on Google drive for convenience.
Battery life seems to be better than normal, I lasted all day easily while working away. Admittedly I have not had the chance to run a proper test, but reports online state you should get over 8 hours’ video play.
Overall this is a great little Chromebook, it has great build quality, performs well enough, and is reasonably priced. The main issue for most people will be if they are willing to sacrifice the functionality of Windows for ChromeOS, but with the launch of Android Apps on Chromebooks, the functionality issue should be reduced a little. For casual use and travelling, this is a great option for anyone.