Acer C7 Chromebook: 4GB RAM, 6 hour battery, and 320GB hard drive (hands on)

When Acer debuted its $199 Chromebook it was unusual as it included a hard drive instead of flash storage. The new refreshed model still has the HDD, but doubles the memory and offers increased battery life for a higher price tag.

Acer set the price record for Chromebooks with its C7 that debuted for just $199. The 11.6-inch laptop was average for the genre, with the exception of a 320GB hard drive instead of flash storage. The four-hour battery life was short for a Chromebook, marring an otherwise decent budget offering.

C7 frontal
Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet

Since the company refreshed the C7, I've been using one for a short while. Acer doubled the RAM from 2GB to 4GB and added a bigger battery delivering a respectable six hours of run time on a single charge. The 320GB hard drive remains, making it still the Chromebook with the most local storage.

Hardware specs:

  • Model number: Acer C710-2055

  • Operating system: Chrome OS

  • Processor: Intel Celeron 847, 1.1 GHz

  • Display: 11.6-inches, 1366 x 768

  • Memory/storage: 4GB/320GB hard drive (5,400 rpm)

  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi b/g/n

  • Battery: 6 hours

  • Ports: 3-USB 2.0; VGA; Ethernet; HDMI; Audio in/out

  • Dimensions: 11.22 x 1.09 x 7.95 inches; 3 pounds

The new C7 has good performance on par with the similarly equipped Samsung Series 5 550 Chromebook. The 4GB of memory keeps things running smoothly without lags or stuttering. The display is not the most vivid, but it's not bad. I must admit I am spoiled in this regard by the outstanding display of the Chromebook Pixel, so that's a factor in my perception of this Acer screen.

Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet

Some folks will be happy with the inclusion of a 320GB hard drive, but it's overkill for me. I am happy with small flash drives for internal storage on Chromebooks, especially given how well Google Drive cloud storage is integrated with Chrome OS.

Keyboard trackpad
Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet

The chiclet keyboard on the C7 is not the best I've seen on Chromebooks but it is adequate. Key placement is as expected and there is a top row of small keys for controlling the laptop and Chrome functions. The trackpad is good, although not as good as those on the Chromebook Pixel and the Samsung Chromebooks. It's still better than the trackpads found on most other laptops.

Extended battery
Extended battery. Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet

Acer increased the battery life of the C7 from a paltry four hours to a more reasonable six hours by going with a larger battery. This battery sticks out of the bottom of the laptop, forming a nice ergonomic tilt for typing. The battery is removable which is unusual in small laptops. This might be useful for international travelers who can get a second battery for up to 12 hours between charges.

The Acer C7 is available for $279.99 from retailers including Amazon. The $80 price bump over the first generation C7 is reasonable for the doubling of RAM and the increased battery life.

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