ACER CHROMEBOOK 15
SETUP & USE
Out-of-the-box, I was amazed at how easy it was to set up this Chromebook. As a lifetime Windows user, I found it surprisingly simple. Just plug it in, connect to your Wi-Fi, log in, or create a Google acct., & you’re off & running. For Windows users, the main thing to understand is that you can’t install traditional desktop software on this notebook. So, though it looks & feels like a laptop, Chromebook is really a different breed of portable computer. It runs on Google’s web-based Chrome operating system & is designed to be used w/an internet connection. Google’s Chrome browser is Chromebook’s principal user interface. Chromebooks heavily feature & are optimized for Google’s suite of cloud/web-based apps, including: Google Calendar, Docs, Drive, Search, Sheets, Talk, Hangouts, YouTube, & Gmail, etc. Google gives you 100GB of free Google Drive cloud storage w/a Chromebook purchase, though that only lasts for 2yr, after which you'll get only 15GB of free storage. Unfortunately, popular software apps like MS Office suite & Adobe Photoshop, etc., aren't available on Chromebooks. But MS Office Online, the free cloud version of Office, is available as a webpage in the Chrome browser, & you can always use the native Google Drive to open/edit docs/spreadsheets. Because Chromebook is meant primarily for online use, the onboard technical specs aren't as important as they are for traditional Windows-based laptops. Just as Chromebook isn’t designed for traditional desktop software, neither is it intended for serious gamers. In general, Chromebooks are affordable, portable, & offer decent performance. And the introduction of Android apps is both increasing Chromebook capabilities & user productivity to the level that many are now considering their Chromebook as a desktop replacement. If you’re already familiar w/the Chrome OS & you like or prefer Google’s apps/services, Chromebook is a good choice for home, work, school, & fun.
MY LATEST CHROMEBOOK MULTIMEDIA EXPERIENCE
Last weekend I couldn’t wait to finish streaming a fascinating Netflix documentary that I’d started earlier in the week. Without any light in the bedroom, I sat up in bed, opened my Chromebook on my lap, used the beautiful LED backlight touchscreen, backlit keyboard, & earbuds plugged into the headphone jack, & watched the last ½-hr of the movie—all without disturbing my spouse. Besides the total silence of the fan-less Chromebook, my thighs never felt like they were on fire—the way they used to feel from the heat radiating from my previous hot-running laptops w/their heavy mechanical hard drives & noisy fans. And when I’m not using the Chromebook in silent mode, I can still lower the speaker volume for quiet environs, as I no longer have to overcome a noisy fan.
-Looks: The thin brushed aluminum case is sleek & sturdy. It has a high-end, minimalist look to it.
-Display: Chromebooks usually have smaller displays, but I really like this larger 15.6” multimedia display. Why spend life hunched over & squinting at small displays? (Likewise, I always choose the largest available smartphone display option when I upgrade phones.) This Full HD 1080p display offers big, bright, vivid colors w/minimal glare, which makes viewing photos & YouTube & Netflix videos much more enjoyable.
-Portability: Lightweight, easy to carry
-Ports-a-Plenty: 2 USB 3.0, 2 USB 3.1 Type C, MicroSD, left- AND right-side power jacks, & a headphone jack
-Performance: Both the Intel Pentium quad core processor & the flash drive are quick, quiet, & responsive.
-Touchscreen: I use it more than the trackpad
-Trackpad: Tactilely, it sounds/feels cheap when clicked on, although it’s smooth when moving the cursor.
-Webcam: Wide-angle lens accommodates more participants in video chats
-Multiple User Sign-On Ability
-Bluetooth 4.2: faster, more reliable, & higher capacity connectivity, convenience, & security
-Battery Life: Very good. I enjoyed ~ 12hr in the 1st unplugged cycle, including a fair amount of video streaming.
-Value: Good value for the price
-Printing: Very difficult to set up without a Cloud Print-enabled printer
-Speakers: Claims of a ‘stunning entertainment experience’ are overrated. Unfortunately, the 2 upward-facing stereo speakers are tinny w/absolutely no bass. Music sounds distorted/scratchy at increased volume.
-Operating System: Google Chrome OS: auto-downloads/installs security/software updates; no more patches/restarts.
-Security: Offers multiple layers of built-in protection to defend against viruses/malware when using Google apps.
-Cloud Support: Save files to Google Drive for secure access wherever you go. Sync w/other Chrome devices & work offline when needed.
-Multimedia Features: 2 upward-facing stereo speakers, long battery life, & 2+ million apps (& games) from Google Play Store
-Aesthetics: Sleek, brushed aluminum build feels very sturdy, yet lightweight, due to its thin profile. The finish hides smudges well, & the TouchPad is framed w/chamfered (grooved/beveled) edges.
-Webcam: HDR (Hi-Dynamic Range) 1280 x 720p 88° wide-angle lens delivers clearer, more natural images w/improved color for photos, video chats, & teleconferences.
-Wi-Fi: 2x2 MIMO (Multiple-Input Multiple-Output) 802.11ac wireless LAN w/data rates ~3x faster vs. 802.11n
-Bluetooth 4.2: Wirelessly transfer photos/music between your Chromebook & desktop, smartphone, MP3 player.
-Processor: Intel Pentium N4200 1.1 GHz Quad Core
-Memory: LPDDR4 (Low Power Double Data Rate) 4GB RAM: Lower power consumption/faster memory speeds
-Storage: eMMC (embedded Multi-Media Card) 32GB Flash Drive provides data stability/durability, quick boot-ups, & support for HD video playback.
-Display: Immersive 15.6” Full HD (1920 x 1080 resolution) IPS (In-Plane Switching) multi-touch CineCrystal LCD panel w/glossy screen display technology using newer LED backlighting—resulting in brighter, more vivid color reproduction (regardless of viewing angle) & better contrast ratios for improved clarity for photos/movies; 16:9 aspect ratio.
-Touchscreen: Google Play apps are mostly designed for touchscreens vs. devices relying on trackpads/mice.
-Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 505 (integrated/on-processor); LPDDR4 Shared Graphics Memory: good image quality for internet use, basic photo editing, & casual gaming
-Ports/Connectors: 2 USB 3.0 ports (blue) & 2 USB 3.1 Type-C ports (doubles transfer speed of USB 3.0 to 10Gbps & allows up to 100W power output; so, it can also charge the device): maximizes latest hi-speed devices for easy transfer of text/data files, photos, & movies at 10x USB 2.0 speed (backwards compatible w/USB 2.0 devices). Other ports incl.: 3.5mm headphone/microphone jack & 1 microSD media card reader.
-Input Devices: TouchScreen, TouchPad, & backlit chiclet keyboard
-Battery: 4-cell 3220mAh Lithium-Polymer; up to 12hr battery life
-AC Power Adapter: 45W, USB-Type C
-Dimensions: 15”w x 10”d x .75”h
-Weight: ~ 4 lbs.
-Warranty: 1yr limited