Acer Chromebook R11 review

360-degree flips all day long

Acer Chromebook R11
Acer Chromebook R11

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As far as the display is concerned, it would have be nice to see a higher resolution panel than the 1,366 x 768 display in the R11. That being said, this is by no means out of the ordinary for this segment of the market, and the screen on Acer's convertible is pretty good at what it does.

Screen and media

In editing documents and doing some general web browsing, we found the display to be up to the job. Brightness wasn't an issue in the slightest and viewing angles are superb thanks to the in-plane switching (IPS) technology. Likewise, media looked pretty good and motion was fairly crisp in the several movie trailers we burned through. My only complaint here is the contrast level, which while it wasn't horrible, it wasn't amazing either. We wouldn't necessarily recommend doing any hardcore image editing on the R11, but it should work just fine for writing, browsing the web and kicking back for some YouTube binging.

One shining star of the media experience of the R11 is its speaker output. Simply put, audio on the Chromebook R11 is crisp and clear, and this baby can get loud. When volume was maxed out, we didn't notice much, if any, breakup, and this thing could definitely fill a small room with sound. Bass output is lacking, of course, but that's par for the course with most laptop speakers. For the price, audio output shines on the R11.

Acer Chromebook R11

Getting touchy

The Chromebook R11's ability to be used in standard laptop mode, as a tablet, or in tent mode means you're going to be putting that touch panel to use at some point. And overall, touch input with Chrome OS is a bit of a mixed bag. Since you're letting Chrome do most of the work with a non-touch optimized web, hitting touch targets can be difficult sometimes, which means some may not want to leverage the R11 as a complete tablet replacement.

That being said, the R11 performs pretty well overall with what it's given to work with on the OS side of things. Tent mode is great for propping the R11 up as a small, easily portable display, and I even used it to stream some Netflix while preparing dinner.

As a tablet, using touch with web apps is a little frustrating, but serviceable. The R11 is obviously thicker and heavier than your typical tablet, and it's odd feeling your hand press into the keyboard and trackpad (they're inactive in tablet mode) with the display flipped back. One area I could see tablet mode being particularly handy, however, is using it as a sort of notepad in portrait orientation.

Acer Chromebook R11

Tap-tap-tapping away

Coming from using a MacBook Pro on a daily basis, we initially didn't care for the keyboard on the Chromebook R11 because of its softer action. However, the more we used it, the more we came to like it. The spacing between keys could stand to be just a smidge wider, but tapping feels nice and we found ourselves back up to normal typing speed fairly quickly. We also became a big fan of the texturing work on the keys. There's something nice about having a tad more grip to keep you grounded while fingers go flying.

But as much as we came to love the keyboard, the trackpad didn’t fare as well. When pressing down, there's a distinct mushy feeling before it clicks, and the amount of pressure needed to initiate a click doesn't feel consistent from press to press. Acer also touts the fact that the Chromebook R11 features a "click anywhere" trackpad, but with the vastly different levels of pressure needed to initiate a click, most will find themselves defaulting to the bottom corner every time.

Acer Chromebook R11

Battery life

Acer claims battery life of right around ten hours for the Chromebook R11, and I found this to be pretty close to true. This is great for those looking for something that can last all day, particularly in the education market where Chromebooks now dominate the landscape.

We did most of our testing with the screen brightness set around 50-60%, and found the Chromebook R11 to last just over nine hours between general web browsing, watching the occasional video, and knocking out some writing. Given the generally accepted efficiency of Chrome OS, this isn't all that surprising, but it's a great stat nonetheless. For comparison's sake, we found both Dell's Chromebook 11 and Asus' Chromebook Flip to last just over eight hours in similar testing.