'

Acer Chromebook R11, First Take: Convertible and cost-effective

acer-chromebook-r11-main.jpg
  • Editors' rating
    Not yet rated
  • $299.00

Chromebooks are tricky devices to get right. First and foremost, they must be inexpensive because of the relatively limited range of services they provide. If a Chromebook costs more than a fully-fledged laptop, you'll probably choose the latter. So manufacturers need to think carefully about how to put them together right across the board, from build quality to internal specifications.

Acer's latest offering in this area, the Chromebook R11 rises to the challenge well. Our review model, the Chromebook R11 CB5-132T, has an 11.6-inch IPS screen and costs £209 (inc. VAT), or $299, at the time of writing. You'll find a few variations on Acer's website including 13.3-inch screened variants.

The build is quite attractive. Brilliant white might not be your first choice for a laptop, but at least the aluminium block that forms most of the lid section has a bevelled finish in a welcome attempt to add some individuality. The rest of the chassis is plastic, and while Acer doesn't do anything to pretend it's super-tough it does feel quite solid. It will probably survive in your bag without a protective case.

acer-chromebook-r11-modes.jpg

The 11.6-inch Chromebook R11 supports laptop, tent, presentation and tablet modes.

Images: Acer

The 11.6-inch screen means this is quite a small device -- it measures just 1.8cm thick, 29cm wide and 20cm deep. As a result, it's relatively light at 1.2kg. That matters because Acer has equipped the Chromebook R11 with a fully rotating touchscreen. Yes, you can use this Chromebook in tablet mode, tent mode, and so on.

Touch isn't a 'must have' feature for Chromebooks -- indeed, Chrome OS isn't really optimised for touch. But I found it a 'nice to have' feature, and probably prodded the screen about as often as I used the touchpad. And of course, a touchscreen is a boon when you're working in a mode where the keyboard isn't accessible.

The IPS screen has a resolution of 1,366 by 768 pixels, or 135 pixels per inch (ppi) and is reflective, but bright. It performed well for both document creation/editing and watching streamed video. On the latter front, sound quality is perfectly acceptable too. There's not much bass, but should suffice for TV catchup and, in a business context, giving presentations to small groups. For a low-cost laptop this is a pretty decent media device.

Top ZDNET Reviews

The keyboard is roomy, with mostly full-size keys on offer. The exception is a very narrow Enter key that took a little getting used to. There's a slightly wider, half-height row above the numbers with various Chromebook shortcuts, including screen brightness and audio volume. In use the keyboard feels a little unforgiving: it's not quite as springy as I'd like, but is by no means terrible.

The touchpad works well, although clicking is a little odd. The pad depresses slightly and comes to what feels like its natural stop, but there's no clicking effect. You need to push down further to get the click action to register. I have light touch on both keyboard and touchpad, and found the need to press hard, beyond the initial stop, frustrating for a while.

Acer has provided the Chromebook R11 with a pair of USB ports, one USB 3.0 and the other USB 2.0. There's also a full size HDMI port, an SD card slot and a headset jack. The power button is on the right side, where it's easy to reach in tablet mode. A 720p webcam sits above the screen. There's wi-fi of course (802.11ac), and Bluetooth (4.0), but no Ethernet.

Our review sample had a 1.6-2.08GHz Intel Celeron N3050 processor, although other models in the range use other processors. With just 2GB of RAM I sometimes found things running a little slow: complex websites took their time to render on-screen, for example, and if you regularly open lots of Chrome tabs you could get frustrated waiting for them all to resolve. My main annoyance, however, was watching on-screen words catching up with my touch-typing.

Storage capacity is minimal, with just 16GB installed of which a mere 10GB was free on my review unit. This is par for the Chromebook course, however, as you'll expect to be working in the cloud much of the time. You can, of course, attach external storage via USB and I had no trouble using a range of devices. Battery life is good: I found Acer's claimed 10 hours to be a touch ambitious, but you should get a day's work on a full charge.

A relatively short test period with the convertible Acer Chromebook R11 left me feeling pretty positive towards it. If you're happy with the idea of primarily cloud-based computing and need a flexible low-cost device for tasks like email, web browsing and document creation/editing, it could be just the ticket. Beware of performance issues if you regularly open multiple tabs in Chrome, however.

Read more

Specifications

General
Packaged Quantity 1
Operating System Google Chrome OS
Processor / Chipset
CPU Intel Celeron N3150 / 1.6 GHz
Max Turbo Speed 2.08 GHz
Number of Cores Quad-Core
Cache L2 - 2 MB
64-bit Computing Yes
Features Intel Burst Technology
Cache Memory
Type L2 cache
Installed Size 2 MB
RAM
Memory Speed 1600 MHz
Configuration Features provided memory is soldered
Technology DDR3L SDRAM
Installed Size 4 GB
Memory
Technology DDR3L SDRAM
Speed 1600 MHz
Display
LCD Backlight Technology LED backlight
Widescreen Display Yes
Image Aspect Ratio 16:9
Monitor Features Ultra Slim Design, anti-glare
Type LED
Touchscreen yes (multi-touch)
TFT Technology IPS
Diagonal Size (metric) 29.5 cm
Display Resolution Abbreviation HD
Hard Drive
Type SSD
SSD Form Factor eMMC
Capacity 16 GB
Audio & Video
Graphics Processor Intel HD Graphics
Memory Allocation Technology shared video memory (UMA)
Integrated Webcam Yes
Sound Stereo speakers, microphone
Input
Type keyboard, touchpad
Localization & Layout US
Communications
Wireless Protocol 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2
Wireless Controller Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7265 - M.2 Card
Features dual stream (2x2)
Optical Storage
Drive Type no optical drive
Type none
Processor
CPU Type Celeron
Processor Number N3150
Manufacturer Intel
Clock Speed 1.6 GHz
Battery
Capacity 3490 mAh
Cells 3-cell
Technology lithium ion
Card Reader
Type card reader
Supported Flash Memory SD Memory Card
AC Adapter
Input AC 120/230 V (50/60 Hz)
Output 45 Watt, 19 V
Connections & Expansion
Interfaces HDMI
Headphone/microphone combo jack
USB 3.0
USB 2.0
Memory Card Reader Yes (SD Card)
Header
Brand Acer
Product Line Acer Chromebook R 11
Model C738T-C44Z
Country Kits United States
Packaged Quantity 1
Compatibility PC
Networking
Data Link Protocol Bluetooth 4.2, IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11ac, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n
Interface (Bus) Type M.2 Card
Wireless NIC Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7265
System
Notebook Type Chromebook
Mechanical Design 360° flip design
Platform Chrome OS
Hard Drive Capacity 16 GB
Miscellaneous
Color black
Case Material aluminum
Features MIMO technology
Included Accessories power adapter
Monitor
Diagonal Size 11.6 in
Image Brightness 220
Dimensions & Weight
Width 11.6 in
Depth 8 in
Height 0.8 in
Manufacturer Warranty
Type 1 year warranty
Physical Characteristics
Weight 3.53 lbs
Operating System / Software
OS Provided: Type Google Chrome OS
Video Output
Graphics Processor Intel HD Graphics
Graphics Processor Series Intel HD Graphics
Video Memory
Memory Allocation Technology shared video memory (UMA)
Notebook Camera
Integrated Webcam Yes
Service & Support
Type 1 year warranty
Service & Support Details
Type limited warranty
Service Included parts and labor
Full Contract Period 1 year

Top ZDNET Reviews

Where To Buy

Acer Chromebook R11

Part Number: CB5132TC32M
Price
$299.00