The Acer C7 Chromebook is a budget netbook boasting the Google Chromebook OS, but has it got the neccesary spec to beat rival offerings?
Google's Chromebook OS has been adopted by Samsung already but it's Acer that has created a budget netbook - in the form of the Acer C7 Chromebook - with the spec to beat rivals at the price point.
Acer C7 Chromebook: Size and build
The grey plastic surround and weighty feel in the hand doesn't feel cheap - it's a familiar Acer design you'll have seen on netbooks and, in short, it works.
There's a great, soft touch keyboard, all the inputs you would hope for and nice curves to boot. You won't feel embarrassed using this on the train and twisting the screen up and down feels smooth and reliable, avoiding the brittle, thin feel of rivals.
The battery is easily removable and even the SD card slot has a neat protector - every design function is well thought out. Yes, the ventilation is on the bottom of the unit which means it can get hot on your lap but the low-powered processor doesn't kick out huge amounts of heat compared to a full size laptop.
Acer C7 Chromebook: Features
The 16:9 ratio screen is an acceptable resolution and solid but, more importantly, it's ideal for BBC iPlayer and movies on the go and offers enough real estate to make editing documents and answering emails easy.
There's an impressive 320GB of storage inside, alongside a free 100GB Google Drive account so you can back up everything in the cloud. An SD card slot allows further expansion and all other laptop outputs and inputs are present - VGA out, HDMI, three USB ports and an old-fashioned ethernet port for wired internet. There's also a webcam and headphone input for basic Skype needs too.
Acer C7 Chromebook: Screen
The 11.6-inch display boasts an acceptable resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels and it's only the shiny reflection that bothers us overall.
The benefit of a rugged screen, which stays in place once positioned shouldn't be taken for granted and the 16:9 ratio works well for docs and the way the Chromebook OS works in wide windows and lists. Movies and web browsing both work well, as long as you aren't expecting Retina display levels of resolution after using a modern iPad 4.
Acer C7 Chromebook: Performance
There's a wealth of options and inputs that make the Acer C7 Chromebook a versatile machine. It can be hooked up to a second screen and used as your main PC and is an ideal travel companion for viewing, browsing and editing.
Even the power supply is phone charger sized which makes it easy to slip in your bag. The Intel Celeron processor creates a fast machine that runs the skinny Chromebook OS at speed.
There's a lack of Google apps at present and users of Windows may feel lost at first, but if all you care about is browsing, writing and photos, it's unlikely to bother you unless this really is your main machine.
Because everything is backed up to the cloud, youíll never lose a file - Google Docs works offline too and saves everything online once you're online again.
Acer C7 Chromebook: Battery
The 320GB hard drive is a real surprise, but a 32GB solid state drive would have perhaps been enough - combined with the 100GB of cloud storage - to preserve battery life which clocks in at just under four hours.
Not bad but it could have been an hour or two more with careful design. We doubt many people will fill that hard drive, even if stuffed with movies for use on the go.
Acer C7 Chromebook: Verdict
Versatile, rugged and surprisingly stylish, the Acer C7 Chromebook is an amazing achievement for £199, especially as 100GB of cloud storage costs half the price of this Chromebook via rivals.
It gets the basics right - decent screen, usable keyboard and has all the inputs and outputs you need when on the go. The Chromebook OS is still struggling for apps and, really, that's the only downside to an otherwise polished performer that shows little signs of compromise for the budget price tag.
Acer C7 Chromebook release date: Out now
Acer C7 Chromebook price: £199