It’s Windows-based machines that have traditionally been popular. Macs have had their devoted user base, yet nothing has come in the way of Microsoft Windows. But recently, a new breed of laptops, called Chromebooks, have hit the market and many people have found these simple systems good alternatives for the old giants. In this review, we’ll take a look at the 15.6-inch Acer Chromebook 15 (CB5-571-362Q) and determine if it’s something you might want to spend your money on.
What things can it run?
On your Windows laptop, if you use no other program than Chrome browser for a week or two and find it sufficient, then chances are high Acer Chromebook 15 (CB5-571-362Q) works for you. By design, these laptops are basically a Chrome browser on steroids. As such, no high-performance components are required. This laptop runs on the Intel Core i3-5005U processor which is also the CPU for many full-blown Windows-based machines. It has two cores, a clock speed of 2.0GHz and healthy 3000 CPU Mark grade, so a simple Chrome notebook will fly with that processor I’d say.
Another thing to consider is the memory. This model has 4GB DDR3L SDRAM installed (another version comes with 2GB). You can’t install more although several users commented 4GB suffices for them. I can easily believe that, running Chrome browser – even with multiple tabs open – doesn’t take too much RAM. If you’re unsure, go for the 4GB Core i3 version and there won’t be any lag whatsoever.
Chromebooks don’t have a lot of storage – much of your data will be stored on the cloud. Acer Chromebook 15 (CB5-571-362Q) has a 32GB SSD and it indeed seems to be a real mSATA solid-state drive, not an eMMC (embedded MultiMediaCard, a poor man’s version of SSD). Thus, you can remove it and put in a bigger drive, however I don’t know if more than 32GB local storage is required for a Chrome-based system anyway.
How is the display?
Acer Chromebook 15 (CB5-571-362Q) has a 15.6″ display, a similar size than your average Windows laptop. It has sweet specifications: a Full HD screen with IPS panel. You can fire up YouTube or other streaming service, find 1920×1080 content and watch it without issues on this display. The IPS panel is often sought after by professionals, giving accurate colors and wide viewing angles – somebody commented he could read text on the screen from almost 180 degree angle.
Keep in mind the display doesn’t support touch. Furthermore, it won’t turn full 360 degrees, so this unit can only be used on laptop mode.
Any comments about the graphics?
Graphics are not the strong side of Acer Chromebook 15 (CB5-571-362Q). There’s just the integrated Intel HD 5500 engine, no dedicated graphics, but it makes sense because you couldn’t install fancy Windows games here anyway. However, browser games work lag-free, they don’t require a lot of performance from the system.
What peripherals can I plug in?
Acer Chromebook 15 (CB5-571-362Q) has two USB ports – one is USB 3.0 – just like in many Windows machines. However, the difference is that not every USB device works with Chrome. For example, input devices like keyboard and mouse are supported, but if you plug in a printer nothing will happen. The best way to print is probably Google Cloud, all the modern printers support that.
Another thing people often connect to USB is a DVD burner. There’s no optical drive installed here so it would make sense to connect one via USB, right? Well, that is possible, but the writing functions of such a drive won’t work with Chrome. Also watching video discs won’t work, so to entertain yourself you’ll have to watch content from online streaming services. The only thing that works are data discs, it’s possible to read them with this laptop.
The notebook has an HDMI output which means you can use the system with HD television or PC display. They all should work without issues, displays don’t need drivers and are simple plug & play style.
To access Internet, you’ll get a nice dual-band 802.11ac WiFi + Bluetooth 4.0 adapter. But what to do if you can only use Ethernet cable? Simple, you can get USB-to-RJ45 adapter and connect your cable to that.
There’s an SD card slot available, it’s good for two things: transferring files from some devices like cameras or increasing the local storage. As far as I know, the biggest memory card the reader accepts is 128GB.
Other things to keep in mind?
Chrome systems are often traveler-friendly because they are small. However, as this unit is 15.6 inches big, it also weighs 4.85 pounds. It’s about same than 15-inch Windows computers. However, the 4-cell removable battery is much better than in Windows laptops, you should get ~8 hours if you dim the screen a bit.
The unit has a webcam but it won’t work with Skype video. To combat the issue, you can convince your friends to join Google Hangouts which works fine on Chrome.
The keyboard comes without 10-key pad and backlit keys.
If you’re happy with what Chrome offers, this kind of simple laptop might be a good alternative for Windows. Acer Chromebook 15 (CB5-571-362Q) has much better performance than cheaper systems, allowing you to use it without lag for any thing the Chrome browser is good for. Windows games and programs are out of question, but that’s true for any Chromebook. Battery life is very good but not exceptional, all the essential connections are available. In a nutshell, it might be a good idea to get this Acer if trying something new interests you.