Acer C720

The best of the best

We love Chromebooks here at AC. We use them for having some fun on the web as well as getting our work done, and know from experience that they are the best "walking around" laptops you could ever want in your backpack or messenger bag. In fact, if (when?) Google gets a few more utilities available for Chrome, like a non-linear video editor — we could use them for everything we do here on the site.

We expect big changes for Chromebooks later this year, but one question we see all the time is "What Chromebook is the best?" We're going to answer that right here and right now.

The Acer C720 is the best Chromebook you can buy.

Jerry Hildenbrand

Acer C720 Chromebook

Starting at $199, the Acer C720 series brings enough power, a great keyboard and trackpad, and a super-light package all together into something great. The base model is more than powerful enough to surf your heart out on the web, edit anything in Google Docs, and write blog posts right here on Android Central. Because all Chromebooks run a full-blown version of the Chrome browser — by all accounts the same as your laptop or desktop — everything you do on the web acts the same way you're used to.

Or maybe you need something a little more powerful. You want to open 40 tabs in the browser while editing a document and chatting in Google Hangouts with your friends or workmates. The C720 series has you covered here, too. The 4GB RAM version can do all this and more, and at a base price of $249 there is no other laptop that can perform this well for this small amount of cash. Or you can go one step further and grab one with an Intel i3 under the hood for $350. That's less than half the cost of a MacBook, and any Windows laptop in this price range is an exercise in frustration to use when doing the same simple tasks that your Chromebook will handle with ease.

It took me a while to get used to an 11-inch laptop. And I can't say the C720 has the best screen I've ever used. But both areas are places I'm willing to compromise when the rest fits my needs so well and is so inexpensive. This is Jerry the consumer talking. The guy who pinches his pennies and looks for the best value possible when spending more than a few dollars. The C720 is the Chromebook I would buy if I were shopping for one right now.

Andrew Martonik

Acer C720 Chromebook

If you're looking for the most powerful and versatile Chromebook available right now, as well as one that provides a great value, you need to look no further than the Acer C720. This little 11-inch laptop doesn't have an amazing design or specs, but it checks all of the boxes when it comes to getting the best experience in a Chromebook.

You're getting a pretty basic 1366x768 display, but the C720 is built like a tank, is relatively thin and plenty light at 2.76 lbs. The Keyboard and trackpad are both as good as you'll get in this class of machine, and you also get all of the right ports, including a full-sized SD card reader.

The C720 is extremely powerful as well, with a choice of either Intel (Haswell) Celeron or Core i3 processors and up to 4GB of RAM. In either case you'll get upward of eight hours of battery life, which is plenty for this kind of machine.

There are actually 13 different models (crazy, I know) of the C720 according to Acer's website, but there are basically three different model groups to look at:

  • Original C720 with Celeron processor: comes with various configurations of RAM and storage starting at $199
  • Touchscreen C720P with Celeron processor: various configurations of RAM and storage as well as a white color option starting at $299
  • Latest C720 model with Intel Core i3 processor: 32GB storage and either 2 or 4GB of RAM starting at $349

Which model is right for you basically depends on how much money you want to spend, and what features you want. You can choose the "original" model if you want to save a few dollars, and from there choose how much storage (which is easily upgradeable, by the way) and RAM you want.

You can choose the C720P models if you want to have a touchscreen, but if you want the highest possible performance (and future-proofing) you should get the latest high-end models with the new Core i3 processor inside.

The only real downside I can find with the Acer C720 is that it isn't available with a larger screen, but if you're alright with an 11-inch laptop this is the Chromebook to get.

Honorable mention - The 14-inch HP Pavillion Chromebook

HP Pavillion Chromebook

There is one thing the Acer C720 can't offer — a bigger screen. And we know plenty of people out there just can't use an 11-inch laptop. That's where the HP 14-incher comes into the picture. The Pavillion runs the exact same operating system as every other Chromebook, has a more than capable Intel Celeron 2955U Processor and 2GB of RAM, and you can grab it in one of three colors for about $275 from HP or your local big-box store. The price bump from the C720 doesn't give you better internals, but it does give you that one thing the C720 is lacking — a big bright 14-inch display.

You can also take things one step further and get a 4GB RAM model with LTE for just $329 direct from HP. Built into that price is also 200MB of free data every month for the life of the computer from T-Mobile. While that's not enough for everything you'll want to do with your Chromebook, it can save your bacon if you need to send a quick email or just jump on the web for a few minutes every now and then.

If you need a bigger screen or LTE, go for the HP Pavillion 14.


We think any Chromebook is a great purchase. If you decided on a different model for one reason or another, you still have one heck of a piece of equipment for the price you paid. But when people ask us which Chromebook is the best, right now our answer is the C720.

 

Reader comments

The Best Chromebook you can buy in August 2014

97 Comments

That's the review I'm looking for. That will probably end up being my first Chromebook

Posted from the Avengers: Age of Droid Ultra

I would love to see the picture of the charger itself and tell us how heavy the charger is going to be. I think it's still important to some of us since we'll be carrying the charger together with the chromebook

Posted via Android Central App

Charger actually doesn't look much different from the Acer C720 one (pictured above). Considering that Acer/NVIDIA are claiming something like 12+ hours of battery life I'd hope you wouldnt need to carry the charger around... but we'll see.

I did point out in the latest ASUS C300 Chromebook review how small/light the charger is, though. I can appreciate when it's done right.

Agreed. Amazon had a refurb HP 14 Chromebook (with 4GB RAM and T-Mobile LTE) for $200 a few days ago. Bummed I missed it.

If you shop around you can get HP Refurb 14 Chromebooks for $199, i bought one and it was like brand new, best thing ive bought in a while. i was very skeptical about Chromebook for a long time and did not see how this could possibly replace a windows laptop, but it has and i love it

I second that - I have been really impressed with my Toshiba Chromebook. I felt comparing that and the HP side by side - the Tosh was lighter, had a better screen (same resolution so it would appear sharper), and had a better keyboard.

woot! (or computers.woot.com) usually has the HP 14" Chromebook with LTE data for $199 refurbished. I picked one up a few months ago and it's been great.

I love my C720. Yes I used the word "love".

A frequent thing comes up (although not above) when discussing my beloved C720. Apparently it's somewhat homely. Can someone explain to me why almost everyone thinks that? No it doesn't look like a macbook air. But neither does it look like a 1990's style luggable. I just don't see the ugly. It looks pretty good to me. Why is this such a common theme?

I have both the HP11 and the C720. Despite the HP11 being underpowered, I use it a lot more simply because the screen on the C720 really sucks by comparison and the keyboard on the HP11 is so much better for doing a lot of fast typing. You really have to try them side-by-side to see/feel the difference. Also, the slowness of the HP11 is not nearly as bad as it was when it first came out. ChromeOS really has improved to where the HP11 actually became a better deal as it got older. I still think the C720 is a good deal at $199, though. My kids use it all the time.

As for the looks, I think it's that there's absolutely no attempt to hide the plastic and the angles on the thing. I'm not too concerned about that, but the cheapness does show through in the actionless keyboard.

I've heard a lot of complaints about the keyboard on the C720, but I love mine. I actually prefer it over my full 15" Toshiba laptop. I'm also impressed by the sound quality of the C720, it's probably the best laptop speakers I've ever had.

I don't think it's ugly. I just think it's very generic. It looks like every netbook sold between 2003 and 2009.

Posted from my Nexus 5, behind seven proxies

Could I trouble you to go into more detail of what design featues look boring and which look awesome? I often hear that the Dell Chromebook is quite attractive. But when I look at pictures of the two I see that they clearly look different, but don't see why (on looks alone) most seem to prefer the Dell over the Acer.

I love my C720 also! It has been perfect for me and they are so affordable. I've been on windows for decades, but these Chromebooks have rendered windoze about 90% dead to me.

Posted via Android Central App on my white Nexus 4 with StraightTalk ATT

I bought a C720 a few months ago, planning on using it for a few days to familiarize myself with it before giving it to my mom, who needed an idiot-proof (love you, Mom!) laptop. I ended up getting one for myself, and I rarely use my MacBook Pro these days.

I just want a 13", Intel-based model with 4GB of RAM and a better screen than the C720. Doesn't even have to be 1080p, just better brightness, viewing angles, etc. I'll pay more than $350 for that.

Posted from my Nexus 5, behind seven proxies

Check out the Acer CB5 when it comes out in a few weeks

Edit: nevermind, you said Intel based.

Posted from the Avengers: Age of Droid Ultra

I'll consider it. I would definitely prefer an Intel processor, but good reviews here and elsewhere could convince me.

Posted from my Nexus 5, behind seven proxies

This article is getting a little old. I think putting the C720 up top was correct about 3 months ago, but now, I'm not so sure. I would give strong consideration now to the new Acer Chromebook 13 and the up and coming Senkatel. Yes, they are priced a little more but they value they provide over the poor quality display and keyboard of the C720 should not be underestimated.

The article is about the best Chromebook you can purchase in August 2014. The Acer Chromebook 13 isn't available at this time and neither is the Senkatel. :)

So you think the best Chromebooks you can buy right now are Chromebooks that you can't buy right now?

Posted from the Avengers: Age of Droid Ultra

I have a hard time recommending ARM-based Chromebooks. I used the Samsung Chromebook 2 for a few days and ended up returning it. The computer stuttered a bit even right out of the box, and that just doesn't bode well for future performance. I know the K1 looks like a pretty damn capable processor, but I've had much better luck with Haswell-based devices.

Posted from my Nexus 5, behind seven proxies

Hopefully they've heard the complaints about the ARM in the Sammy books and have figured out how to correct it for the K1.

Posted from the Avengers: Age of Droid Ultra

Whatever happened with the Dell Chromebook? I thought I remember not too long ago reading a lot of high praise for that one.

Maybe. I'm required to buy the Dell Chromebook for high school, as they've recently made the transition to ebooks for the most part. I'm not sure if they can be bought by consumers now.

Dell has stopped selling it directly to consumers but a few did appear on Newegg last week. If this gets an i3 upgrade and holds the same $299 for 4GB, it will stay sold out. I own a Dell and didn't mind paying the extra for quality design and easier to read text over the Acer.

It would be nice, but Google needs to fix how Chrome OS looks on high-res screens. Unless they've fixed it since the Samsung Chromebook 2 came out, it looks pretty awful.

Posted from my Nexus 5, behind seven proxies

i have the acer C7 and think its actually better than the newer C720. the processors are the same, both have 2gb of ram, and the C7 has a 320 gb hdd instead of the 16/32gb of the C720. also the C7 keyboard still has small things like cap locks, and the delete button

There's an option in keyboard settings to make the search button function as caps lock instead. I have it set that way since I use caps lock more frequently than I need to open the app launcher, BECAUSE I LOVE TO EMPHASIZE THINGS.

Posted from my Nexus 5, behind seven proxies

technically yes!, in PR no

got it for the hardware, not software (ChromeOS was too limited for my study purposes)
it's light, the size of a writing pad and lasts me 6hours+ of lectures

It's such an awesome deal. I posted in on facebook trying to convince friends to snag one at that price, but no one seemed interested. Really, a killer deal.

My Groupon C720 arrives tomorrow, took forever to ship, but it is almost here for aggod price. My C710 will be shippen to my mom in Michigan.

i have the acer C7 and i still prefer it over the C720. They both have the same performance (cpu/ram) and the C7 has 320gb of storage compared to the 16/32gb you get with the C720. Also some other small things like C720 removed the delete key and the caps lock key.

I'm still using the CR48, looking to get the Nvidia Chromebook next.

Posted via my Nexus 5 in the Android Central App

Thanks for the article (as I type on my Acer C720)! I'd like to point out, thought, that the HP Chromebook you show there is the older HP Pavilion 14 Chromebook that does NOT have a Haswell processor, so it's significantly slower (and only comes in black). The newer HP Chromebook 14 (which I also have) does have a Haswell processor, and is the one that comes in multiple colors.

And the HP 14 is also the one that Woot! frequently carries at a step discount. The better battery life alone is enough reason to go for the 14 over the older Pavilion.

Got the HP 14 off of woot..Great value. Threw in a 256 gb SD card and Ubuntu. The battery life is ~6 hours with screen brightness high. From Ubuntu,I can RDP/terminal into my Windows boxes..Kids have accounts in supervised mode (ChromeOS). Great device, with big screen for my old eyes. Usage with Chromecast is nifty too.

Posted via Android Central App

I had a new HP Pav. Chromebook and couldn't stand it. It was the most awful feeling Chromebook I think to date. It's large and that's why I was hooked on it in the store, but dang, I got that thing home and it flexed and shifted and felt awful. My lid wouldn't close all the way either, which is something I figured was just something with the store model.

I'd need 1080p before I'd by one. My phone is 1080p and that's only 5 inches.. No way I am going back to sub 1080p on any device. I think once i can get a Chromebook like Samsung's 13 incher for about $250 I'll jump on it.

Can you hook up Android phones and run terminal commands from Chromebooks? I use my laptop for two things; browsing the internet and rooting, restoring etc... my phones/tablets and devices.

If I were a dev, I'd just write an app that says, "Great article, Jerry", which would save me some time. That's why I inserted Nice instead.

Posted via Android Central App

What will the future of Chromebooks be Jerry? And how long will it take. Personally I like the idea, but this Acer screen is just not good enough.

If Google upgrade this platform & the hardware to make it viable (for me) I would buy one. For now, my aging TF300T fulfills that role - but I want something better.

An effective compact laptop could be a much better tool. But to do that it would cost £700 or more. I would also need new software, possibly £300+! At which point I put the whole idea on hold. Am I just missing the point here?

Awesome AC.

I agree. I love my C720. I hardly use the other two Windows in my house anymore.

Posted via Android Central App

Need some help from chromebook owners...
I want to get one to replace my wifes very old 9" net book on XP...
she does almost everything her phone, so she doesnt need much.
the main things she needs are
-photo editor (standard cropping, resizing, color/highlight effects, instagram style stuff)
-hard drive manager (basically connect our 500GB harddrive to sort through family pics and such
-photo importer (this is the big one, she currently connects the camera and adobe photo shop(?) opens and she easily imports all the photos and it automatically numbers them in some sequence (not sure exactly how)

Can a chromebook easily accomplish all this?
thanx
Danny

Biggest problem I have with my chromebook is photo-editing. I have sumo-paint which is kind of like a photoshop, but it's slow and laggy. I think it's trying to push too much in a web-based photo-editor. I don't really know about lighter photo-editing software (more instagram-ish)..

true, I was thinking google plus has great editing tools, but forgot that requires the cloud... are there not any good offline editing apps then? She mostly emails the photo to her phone, edits it, then email it back to herself... really dont want her to have to do that...

Well I don't do much photo editing on my chromebook, so take my response with a grain of salt, but...

- Pixlr is supposed to be a pretty good photo editor for chromeos (http://pixlr.com/)
- As long as your HD is USB, it will come up with the standard filemanager interface. Which is pretty basic. I suspect insufficient
- Umm I have no idea if a chromebook can do that.

That said, I don't think of my chromebook as a replacement for my laptop. I think of it as a replacement for a tablet. It has the small portability and extended battery life, but a much better browser and a keyboard. Thinking of it that way might change the questions you have. And if you need to replace you're wife's netbook, it might not be a good replacement. Frankly most of what you're doing, I'd much prefer to do on a desktop with a ginormous screen than any portable device. When I need portability, I need the ability to get online quickly and easily to get supplemental information that's not easily accessible on my phone. So I turn on mobile hotspot and pop out my chromebook.

Don't know if that's helpful, but my $0.02.

Any students that actually use these for a fulltime laptop? I'm about to start my master's, and I think I'd like some sort of laptop or chromebook. I have a very powerful PC at home, so I'm just looking for something to write papers on and surf the web, maybe download some PDFs.

Just unsure if it'll be good enough for me, or I should just get a normal laptop.

I pretty much use mine fulltime... I hardly ever use my windows laptop anymore.. I love it for portability and battery life. The only problem I've had is that Google Docs isn't fully compatible with APA format (I can't change the header of just the first page).. If really needed though, you could use Office 365 (or whatever the online version is called) or just print the first page separately, or just import it to a computer that has office. It's hardly been an issue for me, and if APA format isn't required, it wouldn't be one at all.

I'd HIGHLY recommend the C720...

My laptop stopped working properly a year ago and I decided to get a chromebook instead. Went with the Samsung chromebook, it was about a month before the acer 720 was released, it's become my main laptop ever since. I've even stopped useing my nexus 10 unless I'm playing games. It's great for student life as long as you are willing to use Google Drive for all your writing and cloud saving. I'm kinda of happy my laptop decided to fail on me because I can't imagine not using my chromebook for school. They are so light and cheap, you won't mind carrying it around and any damage to the chromebook won't leave you feeling like you broke your wallet. I craked the frame on mine after slipping on ice with my bicycle. Anything more powerful then the Samsung chromebook will be more then enough for school.

The Acer C720 is my computer of choice at home. I never thought a $200 computer would have me rarely ever logging into my iMac. The trackpad is really good, That is what initially sold me.

This article come in just the right moment for me. I have been scouting for a Chromebook last couple of days and i am very happy to find this. I just can´t understand how you can recommend the The 14-inch HP Pavillion Chromebook when HP Chromebook 14 is newer!? The reviews i have seen says that it is by far a better device then The 14-inch HP Pavillion Chromebook.
Just to mention one thing, I have decided to bye the HP Chromebook 14 for the build quality and the feel.

So happy with my purchase! Planned on buying the c720p then the 1st Android Central round up of Best Chromebook came out & I got the second opinion that really excited me. Now I'm even more proud of myself for buying it!

Posted via Android Central App

To anyone looking for a 13" option with substantially more battery life (all work day no worries, I get 10hrs easy), I'd highly recommend the Asus C300MA-EDU. The beefed up edu version has zero performance issues. I run crouton. Most of my work day im on the ubuntu side.

Looking to buy an acer 720.
Since I can't load programs on it, what would be the reason to spend more for a larger ssd ?

Would it be so one could store pictures locally?

Posted via Android Central App

Don't waste your money on a larger SSD unless you've going to be completely offline for days at a time. Spend that money on getting 4GB instead of 2GB.

Review the Dell Chromebook, everything I've read about it says it's possibly better than the Acer!

Posted via Android Central App

where can you find the celeron version for $200? best buy lists is as $200, but out of stock...everywhere else is $220-260 for the celeron version

Chromebooks are so good I've just ordered the LG Chromebase with the 22inch 1080p monitor, my home is becoming very invested in a google future

Posted via the Android Central App

Picked up 2 Acer Chromebooks for my eighth and sixth grader. $169 a piece. I've been buying tech products for thirty some years, and dollar for dollar, the Chromebooks may be the best purchases ever. Easy to use with solid performance. Nexus 7 2013 version comes in a close second.

Posted via Android Central App

it is not quite 'built like a tank'. i get creaks in my screen on the rigth side when opening it up. and when i pick it up from the left side of the touchpad (corner of machine) it creaks there also. no doubt because some of the plastic clips the hold it together have failed.
ir is still a great piece of tech. i would and always do reccommend it to anyone looking for a laptop.

As much as I hate to shop at Walmart, they have the 4GB versions of the HP Chromebook 14 with the T-mo data at some of their stores. I got the coral version for my fiance and she loves it. She doesn't really carry it outside the house though. It's somewhat heavy. I use the Acer C720P with 4GB of RAM and 32GB SSD a lot around the house and while traveling and I love it. I appreciate its light weight and portability. It's perfect for browsing while laying down on the couch and for taking in my travel bag. If I want a larger screen while at home, I just hook it to HDMI out to a monitor, use a BT keyboard and a wireless mouse and it basically becomes a powerful Chromebox. Picture quality is way better that way anyway.

I bought a C720 a few weeks ago to replace an old Vista notebook which served as the family laptop and kids school computer. I liked it so much, I bought a second for myself to use around the house when I didn't need to boot up my Win 8.1 notebook.
The super-fast boot time and ease and simplicity of the Chromebook is such a refreshing change from Windows, and the c720 is really a painless way to get started.

I use my C720-P as my only computer now (unless you count my Nexus 5), and I love its looks (got it in white), size, weight, and keyboard. The only thing I want improvement of is its screen, because viewing angles aren't very good. However, it's not horrible, and I usually have my monitor hooked up to it at home anyway.

Posted via Android Central App

This is my laptop, and after several months of owning it, I have zero complaints, use it hours daily and love that if something happened to it, I could replace it without too much pain. Something I couldn't say for the Macbook Pro that I mainly used for surfing before.

Old, but is there a huge variation in the C720 keyboard? I bought some for work, and it is a disappointing experience, but does the job. Granted, $200... I didn't have high hopes either. But I don't think I could use it day in, day out.

I just checked out a 720P and the keyboard is miles better IMO. The Toshiba 13 and Asus C300 were also similarly decent.