Acer C720P Chromebook (hands on): Touch at a reasonable price

Acer C720P Chromebook (hands on): Touch at a reasonable price

Summary: The newest Chromebook from Acer adds a touch screen and is much cheaper than the other touch Chromebook, the Pixel from Google.

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TOPICS: Mobility, Google, Laptops
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Acer has rolled out the first Chromebook with a touch screen since Google's Chromebook Pixel. The C720P is identical to the other variants of the line with a few exceptions, not the least of which is the inclusion of a touch screen.

Acer C720P Chromebook frontal
Acer C720P Chromebook (Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

The C720P Chromebook looks the same as my C720. Touch screen aside, the two models are identically configured except the C720P comes with 32GB storage instead of 16GB. If Acer had sent the gray model for review instead of the white one, it would be difficult to tell them apart by looking at them, as the touch model has no indicators to set it apart.

Even though they appear identical, the C720P and the C720 differ in five ways that may impact which model a prospective buyer might want.

  1. Touch screen — the display is the same 1366x768 resolution with the addition of touch in the C720P.

  2. Storage — the touch model has 32GB of SSD storage as opposed to the 16GB of the non-touch model.

  3. Battery life — the non-touch model has an observed battery life of 8.5 hours, while touch drops that to an estimated 7.5 hours.

  4. Weight — the touch model weighs 0.22lbs more than the non-touch model. That nearly 1/4 lb of extra weight is significant.

  5. Price — the addition of the touch screen sends the price of the C720P up $100 (MSRP $299) over the non-touch model (including the extra storage capacity mentioned earlier).
acer-720p-chromebook-side-view-v2
Acer C720P Chromebook (Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

The touch Chromebook has similar performance of the original model, and it's impossible to tell the difference during normal operation. Rather than produce a full review of the 720P, check out my coverage of the C720 Chromebook for details of performance and other aspects of operation.

Day one with the Acer C720 Chromebook

Acer C720 Chromebook first impressions: Fast and cheap

Acer C720P Chromebook specs:

  • CPU: Intel® Celeron® Processor 2955U, (1.4GHz, 2MB L3 Cache)

  • OS: Chrome OS

  • Memory: 2GB

  • Storage: 32GB

  • Display: 11.6-inch, 1366x768, multitouch

  • Camera: front webcam (1280x720)

  • Connectivity: Wi-fi a/b/g/n

  • Ports/slots: USB 3.0, USB 2.0, HDMI, SD slot

  • Battery: 3,950 mAh, 7.5 hours

  • Thickness: 0.8in

  • Weight: 2.98lbs

The Acer C720P is a nice Chromebook that is good to use while being highly portable. The touch screen adds another dimension to operating the laptop and no doubt many owners will like it.

Acer 720P Chromebook profile
Acer C720P Chromebook (Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

Speaking of touch operation, new C720P owners may wonder why there is no pinch/zoom function as is common on other touch devices. Chrome OS doesn't natively support pinch/zoom, but there is a way to get it working.

Type chrome://flags in the browser URL bar and you'll be taken to the experimental feature page. Look down the page for Pinch Scale and enable it. Restart the Chromebook and you now have pinch/zoom support. You can find other tips in my article on ZDNet.

Conclusion:

After reviewing the original C720 Chromebook I was impressed with it enough to purchase one. I am very happy with that decision and use the Chromebook from Acer heavily.

The C720P is just as good and the touch screen adds another dimension to operation that is useful. Working with it shows the touch screen calibration to be very precise.

The $299 suggested retail price of the Acer C720P Chromebook is a relatively good deal, especially when you factor in the storage space which is double that of the C720.

Pros:

Cheapest Chromebook with touch

Faster than most Chromebooks

Fast charging (1.5 hours from 10 percent to fully charged, less than 3 hours when completely drained)

Cons:

Plastic construction

Small trackpad

Acer 720P Chromebook keyboard
Acer C720P Chromebook keyboard (Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

Additional Chromebook coverage: 

Topics: Mobility, Google, Laptops

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Talkback

37 comments
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  • Adds no value for me

    Sorry, I'll save the 50 bucks and stay with the 'old fashion' mouse and keyboard! Can't ever see going to touch on any PC.
    mrb186
    • Have to agree at the moment

      ChromeOS is not really touch optimized (well, it's just not), and there are so many shortcut key combinations and touchpad gestures built in, touchscreen is a bit un-needed here.
      That's what android is for!
      Boothy_p
  • Chromebook promotion

    Is it me or ZDnet really promotes Chromebook like their lives depend on it!!
    jonnybr
    • er

      it's you
      Boothy_p
    • Its not just you

      I've noticed this too and when I mentioned it my posts got deleted. Yes, the last 2 weeks have been heavily about chomebooks. Sales weren't good so Google is trying to step it up and paying the big companies to write about them.
      Loverock.Davidson
      • if only they deleted all of your shilling rubbish.

        They review lenovo and other new models of windows laptop. If a new laptop is released. They review it. What has the operating system got to do with it other than settling loverock, Farrell and owlnet off on their windows is the only way spiels?

        Ces 2014 proved everyone is releasing bucket loads of chromebooks.. While the shills and fanboys would prefer they be ignored.. The actual IT journalists need to cover and review them just like any others. For me, I'd rather read a review by someone that has one than the opinion of someone without a clue who is just forwarding the good old Microsoft FUD tactic.
        frankieh
      • Huh?

        "Sales weren't good so Google is trying to step it up and paying the big companies to write about them."

        Sales weren't good? So getting 21% of all notebook sales and 9.6% of ALL tablets, notebooks and desktops in the US is not good? (Well, those figures are from January through November and don't include December: http://www.dailytech.com/Chromebooks+Capture+21+Percent+of+2013+US+Notebook+Sales/article33985.htm )

        Wow. I wish I was that "not good".
        benched42
        • Really?

          Did you read the information? It is notebook sold through commercial channels, not to consumers. Moreover, the article says 1,000,000 chromebooks were sold. Yet in the fourth quarter alone, 17 million windows machine were sold, so how do you come up with that maths.
          revben
        • Maybe the OEMs are excited about a non Windows laptop that sells

          Looks like all the major players are getting excited about Chromebooks after taking quite a disappointing ride on the Windows 8 roller-coaster.

          Now you can even get a Toshiba Chromebook:

          "Toshiba Chromebook Arrives in U.S. Ahead of Schedule"

          http://www.maximumpc.com/toshiba_chromebook_arrives_us_ahead_schedule2014
          WhoRUKiddin
    • Jonnybr - I agree that ZDNet has been playing up chromebooks a lot but...

      ...how is this different than many tech websites playing up tablets to a large degree over the last 3 or so years? Like tablets, chromebooks are a growing product category.
      CHIP72
    • It's not just you

      There are at least one or two Chromebook promotional articles a day.
      Remember Advertising is where the money is made for Google.
      Why not spend a little as well.
      thekman58
    • Zdnet

      Reading Zdnet these days gives the impression that Windows is already dead and not used anymore, Microsoft is doomed, that ChromeBooks is the Laptop for everyone and the one to buy and that Android tablets are so hot that you need that have a monthly update on the best ones out there. The reality is different.

      Pc sales are going down, it is a fact. Is it because of Windows 8.1. In part, maybe, but the real reason is that most computer users of the past didn’t need a full featured PC that can do it all. The tablet’s sales figures have demonstrated that pretty clearly. Reading your email, browsing the Internet, running a few games doesn’t need that much computing power. An iPad is a very good choice for that. I’d rather use a Surface but, it is clearly not a very popular choice.

      The problem with ChromeBooks is that they are fake, It’s not the real thing, not even close. Google is trying real hard to create the illusion but, underneath the smoke screen, the truth can be seen easily. Many will argue with that but the reality is that a Chromebook has the capabilities of a tablet, the price of a cheap Windows PC and a contract with Google for all you will be doing on it. You become 100% dependant on Google’s ecosystem with the good and the bad of it. If a computer could be compared to a country, ChromeBooks would be North Korea. It is a cheap computer and its operating system can only allow you to do what the government (Google) can approve, while they will spy on everything you do. So, I am asking myself: why on earth would someone want to buy it? Even free, it would be too expensive. I can’t even imagine being so limited on a computer, so claustrophobic, so blind sighted to a sole environment. Even Bill Gates in is “I am the king of the world” era would never have taught of something like the Chromebook. It would have ben to Gestapoish.

      A Windows running PC allows you to run any Google products and service out there while it still allows you to run any other X86 applications including stuff from Apple, stuff from Adobe, stuff from Microsoft and all the other full featured application available. Sorry, and I know that some of you will be frustrated by my point of view but I have to get it out of my system. Chromebook is the evolution of a PC the wrong way.
      gbouchard99@...
      • lol. funny! no idea you were a comedian.

        Gee, a company trying to use one product to tie you into others.. I remember Microsoft paying billions of dollars in fines for such behavior. They almost got split up because of it..… then the EU forced them to release compatibility info so they couldn't lock people in anymore.

        What GB has failed to mention is that unlike the Microsoft of old.. Google allows you to remove your data any time you like.. So if you are fed up with chromeOS, get something else,and move your data to it... They allow it completely. Heck you can keep the chromebook and use Ubuntu if you wish,, there is no lock in at all. As I said earlier, I'd rather read a cheomebook review from someone that has a clue. IOS ties you to the apple cloud as much as they can. Android tends to push google cloud services too though it allows anyone to join.. ChromeOs isn't a cloud experiment simply because the cloud is already fully tied to all new operating services.. Just because it isn't the Microsoft vision doesn't make it invalid.

        Microsoft flubbed with the 8.x vision.. By making the OS interface look like the browser google made the whole thing way more intuitative to the newbies.. But its more than the browsers of old... We it people still think of browsers like IE6 and Netscape / Mozilla when chrome browser has very little in common with them. I prefer Firefox myself, at least on PC's because I used it for years before chrome.. But the idea of making the is look like a browser is genious. Even newbs know how to use a browser... Microsoft should learn from that as 8.x is the first version of window that most people can't just pick up and use with no instruction.
        frankieh
        • Firefox

          Firefox used to be my favorite but I have to say that Chrome is much more 'maintenance free'. I always set my 'customers' (friends and family actually) up with Firefox but it was constantly throwing up warnings and having issues with Flash Player and other extensions. I've switched everyone to the Chrome browser and all problems have disappeared. I also have to say that the Chromebook may put me out of business! Most of my jobs are cleaning up Windows PC's that are infected with all varieties of malware and viruses. Chromebooks don't have any of those problems and at 200 bucks I can see why the MS crowd is running scared!
          mrb186
          • malware and viruses

            I haven't seen one of those since 10 years. Where do you live?

            Runing Windows 7 with Security essential at the office AND Windows 8 at home. I spend at least 8 hours a day on computers.

            I'm not saying they don't exist. Very simple and basic procedure can prevent you from being infected. However using a Google device, it comes preinfected with a Spyware.
            gbouchard99@...
          • Really!!

            Well, I cannot recall ever getting any bad guys on my PC's either, but this malware is incredibly rampant on PC's that I work on. I'm talking about users who are senior citizens, average Joe's, and probably 80% of casual computer users. Many of the people I help do not have any real background or knowledge with PC's and I can tell you that they all have some type of A/V protection (but it doesn't really help). Are you telling me that you don't see articles every day about another variant of ransomware that has popped up?? This stuff is very real and they use social engineering skills that many users fall for. People are making tons of money on both sides of the fence. So far, the Chromebook OS is immune to it.
            mrb186
          • seriously

            I recently got the anti virus malware when I tried to download a program that I need from a site that I supposed to trust. I had all security essential on my Windows 7. I took me 1h30 and 5 different tools to remove the malware.
            My Windows 7 laptop is getting dust since I have a CB.
            oldman60
      • LOL

        I am pretty sure you never used a Chromebook. I am using more and more my Chromebook. The more I use it the more I like it. It is getting faster overtime which is the the opposite of Windows. Since I own a Chromebook, my Windows 7 laptop is getting dust. In fact I can do everything I want with a Chromebook.
        oldman60
    • Don't worry.

      There are still 10 Microsoft promotions on ZDNet for every Linux/ChromeOS article.
      anothercanuck
  • Why the obsession with plastic?

    Under "Cons:" there is this comment: "Plastic construction". Somehow criticizing a product for being made of plastic has become a checkbox item for reviewers - Oh my gosh, it's made of plastic! Never mind that it's still solidly built and using plastic is one of the reasons the price low. Enough!
    sk43999