With Chromebooks starting to embrace hybrid designs, it's a shame the Acer Chromebook 15 sticks to the basics. There's a lot here to like, but a convertible design or stylus support and a little more power could have made this king of the Chromebook hill.
As it is, this Acer model is a gorgeous, quiet Chromebook with a beautiful 1080p display, fanless design, and aluminum body. The 15.6-inch display is the largest available on a Chromebook, and its available in touch and non-touch configurations. Since it's not convertible, like the Samsung Chromebook Pro or the Google Pixelbook, having a touch display is more of a nice-to-have than critical to functionality.
Where the Acer really puts itself above the competition is price and battery life. The Samsung and Pixelbook are both 2-in-1 laptops, with the Samsung being a hybrid Android/ChromeOS device, but both are significantly more expensive. While they have all-day battery life, they can't even come close to the staggering longevity of the Acer.
Here is the Acer Chromebook 15 configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
CPU: 1.1Ghz Intel Pentium Processor N4200 (2MB cache, up to 2.5GHz)
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 505
RAM: 4GB LPDDR4
Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) multi-touch IPS display
Storage: 32GB eMMC
Ports: 2 x USB 3.0, USB 3.1 Type-C, headphone/mic jack
Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
Camera: 1,280 x 720 webcam
Weight: 4.3 pounds (1.95 kg)
Size: 14.88 x 10.08 x 0.75 inches (37.8 x 25.6 x 1.95 cm; W x D x H)
Price and availability
The top-end Acer Chromebook 15 we reviewed, a Best Buy exclusive in the states, is $399 (£279, not available yet in Australia). Comparing that to the $499 (about £359, AU$629) Samsung and the $999 (£999, about $1,259) Pixlebook makes it way easier to focus on what it offers instead of what it lacks.
For that money, there are some definite trade-offs in performance. But, where it falls behind in power, the Chromebook 15 makes up its value in its phenomenal battery and gorgeous, giant HD screen.
This is not the first Chromebook to feature a 15.6-inch, FHD display, but it looks absolutely lovely nevertheless. If you're just after a bunch of screen real estate, there are cheaper, less powerful 15-inch Chromebooks available with similar screens minus touch functionality.
The Samsung and Pixelbook offer more in power, and the 2-in-1 design is not available in the Acer Chromebook 15. But, they're just so much more expensive, and they have other trade-offs, particularly in battery life, making the Acer a solid value.
This isn't some chintzy, disposable plastic Chromebook. This is a sharp, business-ready machine that steals a lot of its design cues from the MacBook and other high-end business laptops. The gorgeous aluminum shell is milled on the edges, letting them capture and intensify light reflecting off the milled edges. It almost glows with metallic light.
The chiclet-style keyboard is brightly backlit and feels excellent. Its keys are responsive, and the 15-inch design allows for excellent spacing between the keys. It's not a full-sized keyboard, but that would have been too crowded, especially given the upward-facing speakers on either side of the keys.
The same milled-metal effect on the edge of the computer follows the edge of the trackpad, which is the only part of the Chromebook 15 that feels off. It lacks the solid feeling of the rest of the computer, feeling loose and clunky. Clicking the trackpad feels mushy and imprecise, and just touching it is unpleasant, moving slightly from the mere weight of a finger resting on it.
At 4.2 pounds (1.95kg), Acer's Chromebook 15 is significantly heavier than either the Samsung or Pixelbook, both of which are just 2.4 pounds. It never feels heavy in spite of this. All that screen seems to spread the weight around. It's thin, too, easily sliding into a laptop bag.