If $199 buys an entry-level Chromebook like the Acer C710, just how much functionality can you get for $100 more? Acer has answered that question by unveiling the C720p, an 11.6-inch Chromebook with a touch screen, a speedy Intel CPU and over 7 hours of endurance. We had a chance to go hands-on with the Acer C720p at CES 2014 and were pleased with its attractive design, strong value and responsive display.
At just 2.98 pounds, the 11.6-inch notebook was very easy to lift and carry. We found the pure Moonstone White color of our demo unit very attractive, though Acer also makes the C720p available in a somewhat drab Granite Gray shade. We were pleased to see that, despite its budget-oriented price, the C720p has plenty of ports, including one USB 3.0, one USB 2.0, HDMI-out and a full size SD card reader.
The C720p’s 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 screen isn’t the brightest we’ve seen, but it was more than adequate under normal indoor lighting, outputting accurate images of the web sites we visited. The touch screen responded immediately to our input as well.
We found the island-style keyboard quite pleasant to type on because of its large keys and modest tactile feedback. The touchpad is a generous size and the palmrests are big enough to support adult wrists.
On the inside, the Acer C720p is powered by a 1.4-GHz Intel Celeron 2955U, which uses the same Haswell architecture as Intel’s high-end 4th Generation Core Series CPUs. Because of the low-power architecture, Acer estimates that this notebook will last up to 7.5 hours on a charge.
With 2GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, this Chromebook should run any Chrome app without a hitch and store plenty of local media files to boot. If you need more than 32GB, Google Drive provides 100GB of free cloud storage or you can stick an SD card in the reader.
While Google’s Chrome OS is still limited by its mediocre offline experience and lack of apps, many users will find this browser-centric environment compelling when used on a lightweight, inexpensive laptop like the C720p. Where users previously had to pay a hefty premium for Google’s touch screen-based Chromebook Pixel, they can will be able to get both touch and Chrome OS for under $300 when this Chromebook launches sometime in the next few weeks. Stay tuned for a full review.