The Acer Chromebook R 11 (CB5-132T-C1LK is an impressive system, with a solid build quality, a versatile convertible design, a good IPS screen, useful media ports and strong performance. With all these, it again manages to remain affordable.
PROS: Sturdy convertible design. Strong Performance. Full-size ports. Generous 4GB of memory and 32GB SSD for storage.
CONS: Keyboard would do with more key travel.
Chromebooks are oddly placed in the laptop marketplace. Apart from acting as an easy access to Google Chrome, their target is simple and singular: surfing the web. For that, they are good on power, and often the specs, no matter the manufacturer. Rarely do you find a Chromebook with features that are far-apart from the pack, but Acer’s Chromebook R 11 sets the par high for the budget category. It is unique, in that, it is Acer’s first convertible Chromebook with a 360-degree hinge.
Its refreshed design notwithstanding, the rest of the feature offerings remain the same: Intel Celeron processor, 4GB of memory, a solid-state drive (SSD) for storage –quite generous for the price. It doesn’t have the all-aluminum body as most of its competitors, but it doubles the local storage and an extra-inch of screen real estate. Add a stylish build, generous port offerings and the Chromebook R 11 saunters to the top, hence, is our Editor’s Choice.
At 0.8 by 11.6 by 8 inches, the Chromebook is an attractive device that will comfortably slip into your back bag for you to carry around. It has sharp edges, an aluminum lid and white plastic covering the edges, and an expensive-feeling textured lid pattern. The Chromebook weighs 2.7 pounds which is rather bulky and heavy for an 11-inch mini laptop compared to the 2 pounds ASUS Chromebook Flip 10.1-Inch Convertible.
The pair of 360-degree hinges, as early seen in the Lenovo Yoga Pro 3, lets the R 11 flip all the way around into four different modes: laptop, display (screen facing outward), tent and tablet. Having the option to position it in a variety of modes is fun, but the sometimes-sluggish performance makes it hard to recommend to anyone who wants to do more than a couple of simultaneous tasks. That said, the all-aluminum build of the Asus Chromebook Flip feels a bit premium and sleek.
The 11.6-inch touch screen comes with a 1,366×768 resolution, a common feature in lower-level chrome OS systems, integrated with the In-Plane Switching (IPS) technology; it isn’t 1080p. Still, it lets you 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 Asus Chromebook Flip brings the difference due to its high resolution and clarity. The Chromebook R 11’s chiclet-style keyboard is well build, but I feel the keys would use more travel, though not prohibitively so. It doesn’t get any backlighting –not unusual for an inexpensive system, though. The touchpad is smooth and responsive.
Connectivity options are quite excellent. The left side holds the Power jack, a USB 3.0 port, and an SD card slot. The right side holds a USB 2.0 port, a headphone jack, and a Kensington lock slot. An HDMI port 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. The Chromebook R 11 has a front-facing (1,280-by-720) camera, which is can record decent-quality videos.
The Chromebook R11 is powered by an Intel Celeron N3150 Quad-Core Processor 1.6GHz, 4GB system memory, in addition to speedy SSD loading times. The device boots up in approximately 5 seconds and has the capability of streaming video and opening up web apps. The 4GB 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.
The Toshiba Chromebook 2 gets an intel Core i3 CPU, making it faster, and pricier too. With a stronger CPU, the Chromebook 2 can handle fairly-complex tasks like photo-editing, with a couple of tabs and videos running at once, but for day-to-day multitasking, the R 11 holds its own.
The battery on the Chromebook is in good shape, as it lasted 10hrs and 30 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 longer (11:15) but has a small and lower screen resolution.
A Nice, Little, Chromebook To Have
The Acer Chromebook R 11 (CB5-132T-C1LK) isn’t the best-looking, neither is it the most powerful in the room, but it does offer impressive all-round performance for a Chrome OS system. On a scale, it scores almost half-a-point lower than the Asus Chromebook Flip, our previous top pick, but it scores where it matters. For instance, it gets an extra 2GB of memory, doubles the local storage and the extra inch of space is very welcome. Also, the all-white exterior looks appealing, plus the aluminum and plastic body feels sturdy. For the sleek design, versatility, strong performance and fair price, the Acer Chromebook R 11 is our newest Editors’ Choice.