I had been spending time with two different Chromebooks in the past month or so which led to my last blog about Chrome OS. The first device that I tried was the HP Chromebook 11 device. My trial on that device was about a week. The hardware was very nice – it was light but felt quite solid. However, I found the device slow as the specs were very similar to the Samsung Series 3 which I got last year. However, what was interesting was that it didn’t crash like the Samsung device does. I returned it briefly after I got it. When the C720P was made available, I decided to some really simple tests such as put web site addresses that was content heavy and press enter at the same time – in all cases, the Acer C720P rendered quicker then the HP. This led to my decision to get the Acer C720P. The purpose of this blog will be to compare my experience with both the Acer C720P with both the HP Chromebook 11 and Samsung Chromebook Series 3.
Both the Acer C720P and HP Chromebook 11 did not crash on me at all in the few days that I used it. It does point to the fact that the OS itself is fine but I may have very well received a defective unit. The crashing was one of the major factors for me finally going to the Macbook Air. The other thing that really struck me was that both the HP Chromebook 11 and Acer C720P actually feel solid. They’re no where as polished as the Macbook Air but being almost $1000 cheaper. It’s hardly a fair comparison. However, they definitely do not feel as cheap as the Samsung Chromebook Series 3. Even the little things such as the typing on the keyboard feels like a solid experience – it doesn’t in any way feel cheap when you use it.
While I haven’t done any benchmark tests, the Acer C720P performs much faster then the HP Chromebook 11. The simple test I did was that I would enter the same URL on both the HP Chromebook 11 and the Acer C720P and then press enter at the same time. In every test, the Acer C720P rendered the page much faster. The time difference was likely less then 2 seconds but from a day to day use, the Acer C720P feels like a regular machine performance whereas both the HP Chromebook 11 and Samsung Series 3 felt extremely sluggish. The only way to describe the experience using the Acer is that it feels like a real laptop instead of a device that tries to be one. The other big gap for me between the Acer C720P and the HP Chromebook 11 was that the HP Chromebook 11 lacked an HDMI port which meant that I could not hook up my Chromebook to a monitor. This was a big deal breaker for me.
One thing that’s different about the Acer C720P is that it comes with a touchscreen. Given the option, it would have been a feature I would have gladly foregone. Maybe I’m old school but I don’t understand the use of a touchscreen on a laptop yet. I’m sure that for someone like my son, touchscreens will likely be the norm. For me though, it’s still more efficient to use the mouse or my touchpad to quickly navigate my way around.
In conclusion though, I like the Acer C720P. It’s a device that I can see myself using everyday when I’m not doing hard core development. The device is peppy enough to make the experience very likeable. It is a bit heavier than the HP and the HP feels like it’s a much better constructed device. At the end of the day though, the lack of performance on the HP Chromebook 11 makes the Acer C720P the more compelling choice of the two. Given a choice, I would have enjoyed the HP Chromebook 11 physical device with the peppiness of the Acer C720P along with the ports. It’s still an extremely solid Chromebook device. However, in comparison (not a fair one, mind you) to the Macbook Air, the Macbook Air is a much much superior competing device.