Acer 3G Chromebook
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List Price: £379.99
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Acer 3G Chromebook – UK
Acer 3G Chromebook – USA
I’m a big fan of Acer’s, I’ve had a 14.1″ Acer laptop for over 3 years and it’s still going strong but as most of my usage these days is browsing the internet and e-mailing a netbook is a much more convenient solution. So it was with high hopes I took delivery of this model.
Out of the box it’s a stylish little number with a lovely gloss black cover, it’s thin and light yet still feels solid and well put together. Yes, once you put the battery in it protrudes out of the back by a couple of centimetres but it’s not a big issue. It’s nice that it arrives fully charged, on boot up following the windows registration screens the battery was showing just under 6 hours of life and a hard drive free space of 130GB. The LED screen is absolutely amazing, bright and pin sharp, the 1366 x 768 resolution might not be to everyones taste but that’s easily rectified. The keyboard may not be to everyone’s taste but I’m quite heavy handed and I’ve found it fine though with the flat keys I do find myself occasionally typing two letters at once. All seems well then, so why the 3 stars…..
Well, HD shouts the description, excellent, I searched out some HD trailers to see just how sharp this screen is. Oh dear, absolutely no issues for the screen but the processor can’t cope and playback is jumpy. I thought this might be a one off so tried several downloads, all had the same issue. This is a BIG disappointment, why shout about something so much when the product can’t deliver. Sure the sound is great, but what’s the point when it’s stuttering playback.
Sadly the performance of this machine is not just limited when it comes to HD content, just having a couple of internet windows open can leave things sluggish to a frustrating degree. My old laptop has the same issue but it’s 3 years old and the hard drive is about 90% full, for this to be slow with no extra content is very disappointing. I have persisted for a few weeks before writing this review in the hope that somehow things pick up, maybe it’s just down to an endless stream of windows updates, but no, it’s still slow. My attention though today has been drawn to the McAfee software in task manager which seems to have multiple processes and at one point was using 300,000K memory. Next task will be to uninstall and try something else (probably AVG as I don’t have a DVD drive to install a CD). But this really shouldn’t be necessary as I’d expect this to perform perfectly out of the box.
Removing McAfee and replacing with AVG has significantly reduced boot time and has made this netbook far more usable though the system still cannot handle HD content well and playback remains jumpy.
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This new release from Acer is one of the thinnest netbooks on the market (looks about 1 inch thick at the very most) and weighs just 1.26kg. It’s debatable whether it really classes as a netbook due to it’s 11.6 inch screen however whatever the class, the HD screen is very bright and clear to see.
On starting the system I had problems with how small the text is and you may find yourself squinting to read. However on full XP setup you should be able to adjust the display to a lower pixel resolution like 1024×768 or you can keep the 1366×768 pixel maximum resolution which shows off movies better.
You’ll need to buy an external hard drive to play any movies or load any software otherwise you can register the default McAfee software to protect your system and then download the full thing from them online. You get Microsoft Works with the package as well as some of Acer’s basic gaming and Power DVD which becomes defunct if you don’t have an external hard drive or you don’t load movies onto your hard drive. The hard drive is a standard 160Gb which is typical of netbooks now-a-days and the battery is reported to allow you up to 7 hours of use which I havn’t yet tested. One thing to note about the battery is that IT PROTRUDES from the netbook itself by about an inch. The protruding battery does act as a stand for the netbook though which is clever but I’d rather have a battery that sits flush against the rest of the netbook. On arrival it does come fully charged though which is nice but beware of any cases you buy for it as the battery will get in the way. Cases in general may be an issue considering it’s larger than the average netbook so look at them carefully before you buy one.
The keyboard is near fullsize so those of you with big hands should be happy. They do feel odd to me though as each key is flat as a pancake and on depression of the keys don’t feel comfortable – most other keys are slightly indented to fit the finger a little better. I don’t think I’d be comfortable using it for long essays but it will work just fine for short journeys and note taking.
Like many netbooks it has a built in wireless so you can get connected easily as well as bluetooth connection for device information transfer. Both my wife and I find the touchpad very easy to use – not too sensitive or lacking sensitivity. I think it’s great that they’ve included the ability to zoom in and out by using 2 fingers (similar to an iphone) which makes web browsing much easier. This functionality is similar to the Iphone.
The webcam is also worth mentioning as it’s ‘optimised for low light’. On using Skype between my wife and I at night with only a few side lights on in the room, the picture you receive is very clear and bright. More so than my Dell Studio computer!
All in all a good netbook although the keys could be more comfortable with good battery life and an excellent screen. I didn’t like the keyboard (but my wife did) and the protruding battery puts it down a notch on the rating. Due to the spec’s it’s well worth a look though.
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