The cheapest Google netbook yet
Chromebooks are laptops that use the Google Chrome OS operating system, not Windows. Chrome OS works best if you regularly use Google services to manage what you do online. Sign in with your Google account and your Gmail and Google Docs will be ready and waiting. Chrome OS is different from all other operating systems because almost all of its programs are accessed in the Chrome browser. These so-called web apps generally aren’t as powerful or have as many features as Windows programs, but they are becoming increasingly sophisticated and could be all you need.
Bought through the Chrome Web Store, some of these apps now even work without an internet connection. This didn’t use to be the case, which was a big problem with previous versions of Chrome OS.
The web-only nature of Chrome OS means it’s easy to use. Anyone who knows how to use a web browser will be able to learn how to use Chrome OS very quickly. There’s also no need for anti virus-software as all anti-virus scanning is done on Google’s servers.
The C7 feels similar to Acer’s cheap Windows-based netbooks. The black and grey plastic design feels flimsy and cheap and it creaks and bends under even the slightest pressure. Although the C7 only has a lowly 1.1GHz Intel Celeron processor, this is more than fast enough to run the simple Chrome OS. But its battery life is awful, lasting three hours when we just visited basic websites and used undemanding apps. This doesn’t even match Acer’s claimed four hours of battery life.
The touchpad is small and scrolling by swiping two fingers up and down the pad feels slow, but cursor movement is accurate and smooth. The keyboard takes some time to get used to, though. Although the keys are large, they feel stiff and don’t have enough travel, so typing is awkward.
Unlike other Chromebooks that have a small SSD, the C7 has a large 320GB hard disk for storing movies, music and photos from your camera using the SD card slot. In addition, Google provides 100GB of online storage space free for two years.
Acer has squeezed 1366×768 pixels into the 11.6in screen. We would have preferred a bigger screen, however – that many pixels in so little space can be a strain on the eyes. The screen isn’t bright either.
The Acer Chromebook C7 is cheap and easy to use, making it attractive as a computer for a novice or as a second computer. However, its short battery life, flimsy build quality and substandard keyboard means it’s only worth buying if you’re on a very strict budget.
• Chrome OS
• poor build quality
• Short battery life
• Large hard disk
• Small screen