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Our Verdict

Packed with a low-end processor, a low resolution screen and very little storage capacity, the Acer C740 is worth skipping – unless you're wowed by its sturdy design.

For

  • Pretty matte chassis
  • Slim and light enough for backpacks
  • Fantastic keyboard

Against

  • Low-end processor
  • HD-only screen
  • Limited storage capacity

The Acer Chromebook 11 C740 ($279, £180, AU$379) is designed with the middle school and high school student in mind. This laptop is meant to be transported, dropped, bumped, scraped and shared.

Like its rival, the Dell Chromebook 11, the Acer C740 features a purpose-built design, an easy-to-manage interface and none of the perks you'd expect to see on luxury devices.

Speaking of luxury, if you're in the market for a Chromebook, but don't feel like limiting yourself to the bare bones specs available on the aforementioned education-based laptops, you should check out the uber expensive Google Chromebook Pixel (2015), the creme de la creme of Chromebooks.

Design

The Acer C740 features an 11.6-inch, 1,366 x 768 non-touch HD display that is shadowy, glimmery and dull along the corners. This is the exact opposite of the kind of laptop on which you'd want to watch movies or edit photos and videos. The Dell Chromebook has an equally awful screen, but at least it features touch capabilities.

Acer says the display is designed to limit glare and eye strain, so that your children don't go blind staring at the C740 for up to 10 hours at a stretch. This might be true.

But, unless your favorite student is solely working on the web or in word processing docs, when they shift to more nuanced images and graphics, they won't get the detail and realism found on full HD (FHD) laptops, or even better screens – like the 12.85-inch 2,560 x 1,700 IPS touchscreen found on the new Chromebook Pixel.

Acer Chromebook C740

Acer didn't totally drop the ball when designing the C740. The laptop's chassis features a reinforced cover that Acer says can withstand up to 130 pounds (60kg) of force, and its corners can withstand up to 1.5-foot (45cm) drops without damage. Although these figures don't quite represent ruggedization, Acer has prepared the laptop to at least survive your child's clumsier friends.

All of this strength is encased in a pretty, silver-color matte chassis. I wouldn't call this device gorgeous, but it's nice enough to make you feel proud to carry it around. This feeling won't last unless you take good care of the device, however. The top cover attracts a ton of fingerprints, smudges and scratches.

The top and bottom panels are attached via two metallic hinges that feel as sturdy as the walls of Fort Knox. I don't envision anyone popping the top panel off of the bottom panel, especially not your typical scrawny high school student. (Unless, of course, they're serving sloppy joe for lunch again.)

Acer Chromebook C740

The C740's standard keyboard is perfectly spaced, adequately responsive and comes with an ideally-sized touchpad. The keyboard's keys are covered in a granite matting that is ideal for quick navigation. The keys are extra clicky, which I enjoy, because you'll rarely have to backtrack to see if you missed any strokes.