Acer C720P Chromebook

Is a Chromebook touchscreen worth $100?

Acer C720P Chromebook review
Acer C720P Chromebook review

Before buying any Chromebook, figure out whether you can survive in a browser-only environment. Compared to the dual UI of Windows 8, Chrome OS is wonderfully minimalist. However, tasks that users take for granted, like connecting a printer via Wi-Fi or installing programs, are absent. (Chrome OS has its own apps, but the selection is quite limited.)

Another consideration is whether a touchscreen is an upgrade that's worth an extra $100. If you wish that you could just use your fingers to scroll through a page in Chrome, the C720P is the Chromebook for you. If not, the touch-less Acer C720 Chromebook or HP Chromebook 11 might be better, more affordable choices.

We liked

One of the main appeals of Chromebooks is their eminent affordability, and this laptop is no exception. Even at $300, the C720P costs significantly less than most budget laptops, and looks as good as a notebook twice its price.

I also appreciated the laptop's thin and light design. I loved toting the C720P around the city in my bag; in fact, I hardly noticed that I was carrying it at all. With its understated white shell, you'll be the one thinking differently in a coffee shop full of aluminum MacBooks.

The notebook's dual-core processor provided more than enough horsepower for heavy-duty browsing. I had no problem streaming music while browsing the web with dozens of tabs open simultaneously. Best of all, you can browse, write and stream to your heart's content, thanks to the laptop's seven-hour battery life. This easily outlasts both HP's Chromebook and the X102BA.

We disliked

The limitations of Chrome OS take some getting used to. I found it frustrating that I couldn't open Microsoft Office documents or connect to my old-fashioned, Wi-Fi only printer. What's more, losing your Internet connection can make the entire experience a futile exercise in frustration.

More importantly, the touchscreen adds nothing to Chomebooks other than the price tag. Unlike Windows 8, Chrome was never designed with touch in mind. It's much more efficient to just use the touchpad to navigate the browser than the screen.

Final verdict

As an affordable laptop, the Acer C720P Chromebook has a lot to offer: A thin and light design, an excellent keyboard and touchpad, and impressively endurance. As a Chromebook, however, the C720P fails to justify its above-average price tag. The gimmicky touchscreen bumps the cost up to $300, without adding real value to the system.

The HP Chromebook 11, by comparison, provides an almost flawless Chrome OS experience without a touchscreen. And if you absolutely must have a touch-sensitive display, the Asus X102BA offers a much more satisfying touchscreen experience for $50 less.

Nevertheless, if you're looking for laptop with a touchscreen and don't use your computer for much more than streaming movies, composing documents and browsing the web, the C720P is a fine choice.