Acer Chromebook 15 C910 review: A Chromebook of huge proportions
The first 15in Chromebook is a more practical proposition than you might think - and it's cheap, too
All of the Chromebooks we’ve seen to date have been lightweight ultraportable models with screens measuring 13in or smaller. Acer has taken a different tack with its latest offering: the Chromebook 15 C910 is the first 15in Chrome OS laptop.
This might sound bizarre at first, but it makes sense given the continuing popularity of 15in laptops. Many people simply prefer the bigger screen size as it makes everything easier to see. Although the Chromebook 15 is chubbier and heavier than its smaller cousins as a result – weighing in at 2.2kg – this isn’t a huge problem if, like most 15in laptops, it’ll spend most of its time in the home or office.
However, The Chromebook 15 does have the stamina for working away from a wall socket. When used for simple tasks in relatively undemanding web apps such as Google Docs, Google Play Music, Wordpress and Pixlr, it lasted 9hrs 42mins. Although it’s somewhat disappointing that this isn’t any longer than lighter, thinner Chromebooks with smaller batteries, it’s still lengthy and comes close to matching Acer’s claims.
And it's also surprisingly attractive for such a cheap laptop, with a pleasing crosshatch pattern on the lid and underside. Unfortunately, the build is so-so, with a sturdy base, but a lid that flexes easily under pressure.
Acer Chromebook 15 C910 review: Display and ergonomics
Given the low price, we weren’t expecting much from the 15in screen. It isn't especially bright, but contrast and colour accuracy are reasonably good for a budget laptop display. What isn't so good is the resolution, which at 1,366 x 768 makes text looks fuzzy and unattractive. A 1,440 x 900 or 1,600 x 900 resolution screen would make better use of such a large screen, especially when multi-tasking, but sadly such panels are unheard of in cheap laptops.
While the keyboard is large and spacious, the keys felt a little spongy for my liking. There's enough feedback and travel for quick, accurate and comfortable typing, though, and I had no complaints about the touchpad, which puts the touchpads on comparably priced Windows laptops to shame. It’s large with accurate tracking, clicky buttons built into the pad itself and basic but smooth, responsive gestures such as two-fingered scrolling and two-fingered tapping to show contextual menus.
The laptop as a whole is responsive, too. Apart from some ARM-based Chromebooks, we’ve rarely seen any Chrome OS computer struggle with general web rendering, running web apps or providing a smooth and responsive interface. The Chromebook 15 is no exception to this, thanks to its Broadwell-derived dual-core 1.5GHz Intel Celeron 3205U processor and 4GB of RAM. If nothing else, that much memory ensures your tabs won’t need to be reloaded very often.
Storage isn't quite as impressive. Our review unit came with 32GB of storage, but only the 16GB version is widely available. This isn’t a problem if you’ve fully bought into Chrome OS’ vision of totally cloud-based computing, but it’s inconvenient if you need to ensure you have access to lots of video files and documents when you’re offline. You can, of course, use external storage instead: the Chromebook 15 has a USB 3 and a USB 2 port alongside its SD card slot.
Acer Chromebook 15 C910 review: Verdict
If you’ve been tempted by the simplicity and hassle-free nature of Chrome OS, but need or want a bigger screen, the Acer Chromebook 15 is for you. I do wish Acer had been more ambitious, opting for a brighter, higher quality, higher resolution panel, even if this had pushed up the price, rather than retreading old ground and taking the easy way out. However, it gets nothing horribly wrong and the price is very reasonable indeed.
See also: The best Chromebooks of 2016