Chromebook 15 hands on: Big for education and the enterprise

Chromebooks come in all sizes, and none bigger than this 15.6-inch model from Acer.

Acer Chromebook 15

Chromebooks are basically alike since Chrome OS works much the same no matter the hardware. The primary difference separating one Chromebook from the others is the size of the display.

The Chromebook 15 from Acer is as big as they get with a 15.6-inch display available in two resolutions. The cheaper version, starting at $249.99, has the standard 1366x768 resolution, which is pretty low for such a large display. The top model we are reviewing has a 1920x1080 resolution display, and while that's not very high for a large screen it has worked well in our testing. This unit is priced at $349.99.

The white laptop is constructed of thick plastic that feels sturdy, and is designed by Acer to withstand hard use in schools and the enterprise. After weeks of use we have no concerns about the durability of this Chromebook.

Chromebook 15 specs as reviewed:

  • CPU: Fifth generation Intel Celeron Dual-Core Processor 3205U (1.6GHz, 2MB L3 Cache)
  • Memory/storage: 4GB/32GB
  • Display: 15.6-inch 1920 x 1080 (anti-glare)
  • Memory slot: SDXC, up to 128GB
  • Connectivity: 802.11AC; Bluetooth 4.0
  • Webcam: 1280x720
  • Ports: USB 3.0; USB 2.0; HDMI; Audio in/out
  • Battery: 3220 mAh, 48Whr, almost 9 hours
  • Dimensions: 15.08 x 9.65 x 0.95 Inches
  • Weight: 4.85 lbs

The Acer Chromebook 15 is big and heavy (4.85 lbs), and most owners will park it on a desk and leave it there. Intrepid owners who do carry it around will appreciate the almost nine hours of battery life we've experienced in weeks of testing.

Opening the lid of the Acer exposes the 15.6-inch display. This screen is not the brightest compared to high-resolution displays that are becoming more common on laptops. While appearing slightly washed-out, it is still a decent display for the price. The higher resolution model we have been testing fits the screen well, and facilitates having multiple windows open at the same time.

Some Chromebook users prefer to have everything running in tabs in the Chrome browser, but we prefer having some apps running in their own window. The 15.6-inch screen makes it productive to have two windows side-by-side, something easily done on the Chromebook 15.

We've recently shared how well Chrome OS works on outdated hardware, and it runs even better on good hardware. The fifth generation Celeron processor in the review unit has performed very well. The processor plus the 4GB of memory handles lots of windows and tabs open without lags. It runs as well as any Chromebook we have tested.

The large Chromebook supports having lots of ports, and the Acer has the standard complement of them. There are two full-sized USB ports (one each of USB 2 and 3), a full HDMI port, and an audio jack. A full SD slot is also present, supporting up to SDXC cards of 128GB.

The keyboard on the Chromebook 15 is of reasonable quality. While the feel of the keys is somewhat mushy, rapid typing is easily accomplished. It has the standard complement of keys on Chromebooks, including the top row of Chrome OS control keys.

The trackpad on the Acer is typical Chromebook quality, and that is very good. It is very precise and comfortable to use.

The wide Chromebook 15 allowed Acer to put big stereo speakers, one on either side of the keyboard. Audio quality is quite good as a result of the large speakers and the positioning of them. Playing music sounds better on the Acer than any Chromebook we have tested. They support loud playback with little audio distortion. We have been pleasantly surprised at how good the Chromebook 15 sounds.

There is a webcam for video calls that is 720p. It produces clear video and along with the excellent audio, calls are good enough for most business purposes.

We have been pleased with using the Acer Chromebook 15 during our testing and find it to be a good balance of performance and value. The sturdy construction and large size make it a good fit for both education and the enterprise.

Pros:

  • Good performance
  • Large display
  • Big trackpad

Cons:

  • Big
  • Heavy

Reviewer's rating: 8 out of 10

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