The Acer Chromebook CB3-131-C3SZ is on the cutting edge, with faster processing power and excellent battery life. All these combined with a nice design, it does stand out in this increasingly competitive Chromebook category.
PROS: Long battery life in testing. Stable performance. Quite inexpensive for the features.
CONS: Would do with higher resolution, just like competitors.
The entire Chromebook category has evolved over time, with several models bumping up the prices to add one or two unique features. The 11-inch Acer Chromebook CB3-131-C3SZ does a good job of being clean, stable and efficient with a 2GB memory and 16GB of storage. Since late 2012, Acer has been toward the front of the Chromebook trend, which was marked by the repurposing of old netbook designs for the new Google-powered category, but stayed ahead with features like touch functionality on some of its Chromebooks.
But staying ahead isn’t always easy, they had to pack some great features into the CB3-131-C3SZ, like a IPS LED-backlit Display and excellent battery life, but the overall experience winds up feeling more of the same with the competition. If you’re in the market for an affordable laptop, and not overly loyal to Windows OS, the CB3-131-C3SZ is s something you can grab without a second thought, but it does offer some good bang for the buck.
The white, patterned aluminum cover looks, from a distance, quite nice. On closer inspection and after handling the CB3-131-C3SZ for a few weeks, it’s a different story as the lid feels sturdy, which is quite good as compared to plastic covers in other Chromebooks. Over time you’ll realize that there’s a certain amount of ruggedness than needs to be put into consideration, as the unit stands out to be mainly strong, well-assembled and eve, for the eye, scratch and is smudge free.
At 11.57 x 8.03 x 0.76 inches, the Chromebook is a small device that will comfortably slip into your back bag for you to carry around. It the same size as its convertible-sibling, the Acer Convertible Chromebook R11, which comes with a touchscreen display. The Chromebook weighs 2.4 pounds which is standard for an 11-inch mini laptop, but the ASUS Chromebook Flip is even lighter at only 2 pounds.
The 11.6-inch clamshell Chromebook comes with a 1,366×768 resolution, a common feature in lower-level chrome OS systems, integrated with the In-Plane Switching (IPS) technology thereby allowing you to view the display from wider angles without compromising the quality. The IPS technology comes in handy for the convertible device when changing from one viewing mode to the other. The display is quite okay for casual use, but the 1080p resolution seen on the Toshiba Chromebook 2 brings the difference due to its high resolution and clarity.
The Chromebook CB3 has a well-built Chiclet-style keyboard, the typing experience could have been made better if the keys could use more travel in the keys because there was too much resistance felt at times. The keyboard is not backlight, however, this does not come as a surprise for such a budget priced laptop.
Connectivity options are quite excellent. There is a USB 2.0 port and a USB 3.0 port for faster transfer of files and connecting o other devices and peripherals. An HDMI port (with HDCP support) is available for connecting the device to larger screens. Wireless connectivity comes by way of dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. You also have an HD Webcam (1280 x 720), which come handy when you need to catch up with folks over a Skype chat.
The Chromebook CB3 is powered by an Intel Celeron N2840 Dual-Core Processor 21.6GHz, 2GB RAM and 32GB flash drive. The device boots up in approximately 5 seconds and has the capability of streaming video and opening up web apps. The 2GB of RAM installed in the device is enough to handle basic tasks but you run the risk of having the machine slow down once you open more tabs.
Hopefully, the next version shall have 4GB of RAM for speedy connection even with the opening of multiple tabs and avoid instances of slowing down or stuttering. For power demanding tasks such as photo-editing, opening more tabs and running many videos at once, the pricey Toshiba Chromebook 2 carries the day as it comes with Intel Core i3 CPU.
There’s a 16GB SSD on board, this is the same amount of storage you find on other chromebooks like the Toshiba Chromebook 2, the Asus Chromebook Flip, the Dell Chromebook 11 Non-Touch and the Lenovo ThinkPad 11e Chromebook. The storage space appears inadequate but Google offers 100GB of free storage on Google Drive for two years enabling you to store and access your photos, music, videos, documents, and more from anywhere.
Graphics performance wasn’t ever a strong side for Chromebooks. They feature processor integrated graphics chips, like Intel HD Graphics in this particular model. It’s powerful enough for simple tasks you might do on a Chromebook, but devout gaming is out of question for that graphics chip – especially when you consider Chromebooks’ poor overall support for games.
The battery on the Chromebook is in good shape, as it lasted 9 hrs and 12 minutes on our tests, this is good news for road warriors as they can get to handle most of their work while on the move without worrying on the battery. The Asus Chromebook Flip leads the pack with longer battery life (11:15); but, has a small and lower screen resolution.
The Bottom Line
The Acer Chromebook CB3-131-C3SZ is definitely notable among its peers, if only for its faster processor and excellent battery life, but it does offer a significantly improved experience, and the experience is everything when dealing with Chromebooks. The powerful CPU may promise better performance, but there’s not much out there now that takes advantage of it, unlike its other stablemate the Acer Convertible Chromebook R11 that scores with a 360-degree display featuring an IPS Touchscreen, a quad-core Intel Braswell processor and 32GB of internal storage.
All said, the 10.1-inch ASUS Chromebook Flip synthesizes the best innovations in the Chromebook category into a single system and does so at an affordable price. For that, it remains our Editors’ Choice.