So the day arrived and I had to say goodbye to my Pixel LS. My son, who is at University, needed and upgrade to his Toshiba 2 laptop, and as his need was greater than mine so off he went with it.
Not having the funds for a direct replacement I started to think what could I get to fill the void?
The first place I normally turn to are the guys over at Chrome Unboxed. Their knowledge on everything Chrome OS is legendary in particular their video reviews are awesome. However, i do like to different opinions from other sources and put together the shortlist:
- Acer Chromebook 14
- Asus C302
- Acer R13
- Acer R11
At the time of writing the two Samsung models had not been released in the UK so couldn’t feature in my list. I decided to go for the Acer Chromebook 14 (in Gold) and eagerly awaited delivery.
As soon as i took it out of the box I knew this was not the Chromebook for me, despite research I had made a mistake. The Acer is a fine machine but it was not for me so it was returned for a refund. For the record I did not like the matt screen, the keyboard and trackpad although the size of the screen and the build quality was great.
Immediately I conducted further research and decided on the Acer R13 and for the second time in a week eagerly awaited delivery……
Some of you may ask why did I chose the R13 over the C302? Cost. I picked up the R13 for £280 (it is as of writing this £351 on Amazon UK) and C302 was over £500! The C302 looks a fine Chromebook but my budget would just not stretch.
When the R13 was delivered, I was to be honest, a little nervous that I might have made another mistake. However, as soon as I unwrapped it I knew this was a great buy and would suit me perfectly.
So to the review…..
The build quality is fantastic and feels really premium – especially when you consider for a sub par £350 machine.The hinge does not allow for one handed opening of the lid but it moves fluidly and feels robust.
The lid folds back 360 degrees to to a tablet form (although too heavy to use in this form for extended periods) and can also be used in tent and reverse mode. It gives this laptop versatility, which is welcome with the addition of Android Apps.
Ports include full HDMI, Type C (not Thunderbolt 3),USB 3 and mini SD card slot. Annoyingly the mini SD card does stick out beyond the laptop chassis which is a design flaw in my opinion.
The 13.3” IPS screen is bright and clear, although please note you will need to clean the screen regularly as it does show fingerprints. Multi Touch is supported and is responsive.
The keyboard is of an island variety and has good travel and a satisfying noise when typing. The trackpad is of a good similar standard being responsive and well built. One negative here there is no backlight on the keyboard. I think Acer missed a trick with this omission and should re-think if they ever bring out a replacement to the current model.
Speed has never been an issue even when under pressure. Chrome OS has come on leaps and bounds since I purchased my first Chromebook nearly 4 years ago and the OS makes the most of this type of hardware and purchase cost.
Battery life is one of the best features of this laptop – it never seems to get anywhere near running out even after a full day’s use. I have brightness quite high – around 80% – with bluetooth and WiFi running in the background.
Android Apps run well and have improved over time – these plug any gaps left by the Web apps available.
So in conclusion a well built Chromebook with added flexibility in how you can use it!