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All told, if you're looking to live inside of Google's world of all things Chrome, Acer's Chromebook R11 represents a compelling little laptop. There are certainly more powerful Windows and Mac laptops in this size range on the market, but as far as Chromebooks are concerned, the R11's combination of performance and features are a good deal.
The Acer Chromebook R11 certainly isn't looking to turn heads, but its design is a minimalist's dream without being too bland. The textured finish on the outside combined with a build that feels pretty solid make the laptop feel great in the hands. Sure, there are sexier laptops on the market, and it's no competition for the all-metal MacBooks out there, but it's not lacking its own little charm.
The laptop's battery life is also right up there with the best of them, leaping slightly ahead of much of its Chromebook competition. Add in great performance for most basic tasks, along with a bright screen that works well enough for the occasional video stream, and the R11 not only feels good in the hands, but feels great to use as well (despite the occasional hiccup). Oh, and did we mention those bright crispy speakers?
Finally, the keyboard on this little guy grew on us quite a bit. Despite my initial skepticism, I found that once we adjusted from our daily driver, the textured keys felt great as we flew around the keyboard.
One major pain point with the Chromebook R11 is the trackpad. we just can't get over the mushy feeling and inconsistency in the required pressure to initiate a click. We can't even count how many times we either misclicked something or pressed the trackpad without registering a click at all. It just wasn’t as easy to acclimate to the trackpad as it was the keyboard.
Although it's not unusual at this price point, let alone in the Chromebook sphere, it would have been great to see a higher resolution tagging along inside the Chromebook R11. Even if it's just moving on up to a base 1080p, the difference would have worked wonders for making the display that much crispier.
If you're in the market for a small Chromebook, it's hard to argue with Acer's R11. The price certainly hits a sweet spot, and the laptop is a great machine for getting a bit of work done, kicking back for some tunes, and occasionally breaking it out as a tablet replacement. It may not be quite as stylish as the Asus Chromebook Flip, or as rugged as the Dell Chromebook 11, it sits firmly in the middle.
One thing that will take some deep consideration, however, is whether Chrome OS is the right operating system for you. As I mentioned in the introduction, Chrome OS is singularly focused on a web experience, which comes at the cost of power and versatility. And as useful as the hybrid nature of the Chromebook R11 is, using touch with Chrome OS is still a mixed bag. This isn't a knock on the R11 at all; these are issues for Google to tackle, after all.
Still, Acer's Chromebook R11 is a solid buy if you're in the market for something that will last a full day without breaking a sweat, perform adequately under pressure and otherwise serve up a great web browsing experience.