15″ Chromebooks are here: the reign of small Chrome-powered laptops is threatened, usurper being Acer. So if you’ve been wanting a big Chrome notebook the wait is now over. But are they really that valuable? I chose one, dubbed Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-C09S, and took a closer look at the laptop. Read on to find if it would be a good pick for you!
There’s a dual-core Intel Celeron 3205U installed in the Acer. It’s a new 2015 model with 1.5GHz clock frequency, although in the grand scheme of things it’s still a Celeron, so high performance can’t be expected. However, this should be no problem at all, considering Chromebooks are almost exclusively used for very basic things like surfing the web or doing homework with MS Office. For this kind of activities, the Celeron is an ace.
The 4GB RAM should also suffice. Heck, it’s enough even for a laptop running Windows. As far as I know, this model doesn’t support RAM expansion. But as said, it shouldn’t be an issue, Chrome runs very smoothly on four gigabytes even if you’re having a lot of tabs open on browser.
A solid-state drive is often associated with Chrome laptops. Also Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-C09S has one, this time 32GB big. It’s not large in storage size, although user experience should be pleasant thanks to fast booting up and reaction times. If you require more space, your options are either external hard drive, the built-in SD card slot or free 100GB Google Drive storage for 2 years.
Display and graphics
Screen is the most interesting part of Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-C09S. It is 15″ diagonal, something not seen in Chrome laptops before. It’s also a Full HD display so you’re able to get more screen estate and play 1920×1080 content with no downscaling. It’s not a touch display, but the panel type is IPS which is usually considered higher quality than TN screens that virtually all the other budget laptops have. User reports also seem to confirm this, so all in all it looks they did a pretty decent job with cheap laptop’s screen for a chance!
The graphics card is Broadwell-based Intel HD with performance close to the popular (yet slow) HD 4000 chip. Thus, only older games would run smoothly, but because the system is Chrome your Windows games won’t run at all unless you’re up to hacking and tinkering. That being said, OS-independent games – those that work on browsers – should be easy for this system.
The total number of USB ports in Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-C09S is two. One is USB 3.0, prefer that if it’s higher transfer speeds you want. A HDMI output is also available, plugging the Acer to a HDTV is possible. The dual-band WiFi + Bluetooth 4.0 adapter allows for solid wireless connection.
One of the missing thing in Chromebooks is optical drive. That’s because the operating system doesn’t support discs well. If you get an external DVD drive you can read data discs, but can’t for example burn any CDs and DVDs. Another thing the laptop is lacking is RJ-45 port. That is however only small inconvenience. Pretty much every network supports wireless these days – and you can always get a cheap USB RJ-45 adapter if you require cable.
There’s a HD webcam and microphone installed, but they can’t be used with Skype video unless you tinker, again due to Chrome OS’s limitations. The easiest option would be to use Google Hangouts and its video call feature.
Some other things to keep in mind?
Obviously, Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-C09S has worse portability than other Chrome laptops. Due to the big screen, it weighs good 4.85 pounds – the same than average 15″ notebooks do, while the smallest Chromebooks weigh just a bit more than half of that. As such, the Acer is not an excellent companion for a road warrior, and it can be better used as a replacement for desktop. The battery life is great anyway, promised up to 9 hours, and user reports seem to confirm this (around 8 hours on a single charge).
The keyboard is not illuminated and there’s no 10-key pad available.
Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-C09S is a tool for those who want Chrome OS on a big laptop. This model is much bulkier than other Chromebooks, so don’t be surprised to find it less convenient for on-the-go computing. Otherwise, it’s a solid computer. For the price, the Celeron processor, 4GB RAM, 32GB SSD and a Full HD IPS panel seem to do the trick. Battery life is also good for a full day. I’d say many home users or students would enjoy this kind of a large Chromebook. If you think that’s you, why not to give the laptop a try!