CB5-311-T9Y2 ChromeBook Review

Acer CB5-311-T9Y2 Review

Acer CB5-311-T9Y2 Specifications

Display: 13.3″ 1920×1080, 165.6 PPI
Battery: 3220mAh 11 hours
Dimensions: 32.77 x 1.8 x 1.78 cm (12.9 x 0.71 x 0.7 in)
Weight: 1.5 kg (3.31 lb)
CPU: NVIDIA Tegra K1 CD570M-A1 ARM Cortex A15 quad core @ 2.1GHz
Storage: 16GB SSD
Wireless: 802.11ac dual band and Bluetooth 4.0
Multimedia: 0.9MP WebcamMicrophone
3.5mm Headset JackHDMI

USB 2.0 x 2

USB 3.0 x 2

SD Card Reader

Acer CB5-311-T9Y2 Review

After recently migrating to Google Docs, I decided that a chromebook would be an excellent companion for writing manuscripts (Docs + PaperPile = awesome) and general browsing while traveling. The ideal machine for me would have long battery life, run cool, have a full size keyboard, and a solid trackpad. Many reviews later, I took a plunge on the Acer Chromebook 13 and could not be happier. After a few days of writing manuscripts, preparing slides for lectures, emails, and general browsing, here are my comments:

1) Some reviews (e.g., at The Verge) suggested that this machine could not adequately multi-task. Perhaps they were missing an update, but I currently have 14 tabs open with a mix of google docs, gmail, calendar, ssh session, amazon prime music playing, boing boing, etc. I am still typing comfortably and do not see any lag. Maybe a bit of refreshing when moving into a tab that I have not touched in a while, but it is negligible.

2) The low res screen is excellent! Reviews keep knocking the screen on this device, but it is not clear why. Viewing angles are better than my Panasonic Toughbook F9 and it is plenty bright. Colors are fine and I do not find it harsh on my eyes for typing over long periods (hours). I also have an iPad, and while that screen is definitely more vivid, I don’t really need that screen for browsing, emails, and writing manuscripts. In fact, I ditched the iPad to my two year old so I could have this chromebook.

3) Battery life is awesome! I have not ran out yet and put it to nearly 10 hours of solid work yesterday with screen brightness around 40%. Way beyond iPad’s lifespan using a bluetooth keyboard and much, much more responsive. Killed the iPad for me (perhaps a theme here).

4) Runs cool. No red marks on my lap. Silent also. Not much else to say!

5) Keyboard is solid. Full size keyboard with decent travel and touch. No complaints.

6) Trackpad is equally nice. No complaints at all.

7) Overall build feels solid. Not cheap. I have an old asus netbook and this machine is an order of magnitude better in terms of build quality, feel, and overall experience. I don’t know how long the white plastic will stay clean, but it looks nice right now. Not normally a fan of white laptops, but it looks good.

8) The lower res display with 4GB RAM is a sweet spot for battery life and performance. I am not sure that a higher res display is worth the extra cost, reduction in icon sizes, and lost battery life. All of the blog and magazine reviews push the 1080p display, but Netflix looked just fine at lunch today on the lower res display. I will enjoy my extra battery life.

9) I also recently put together a image heavy lecture. This was as smooth as it is on my desktop (a 12 core machine with 64GB RAM). In fact, I think it may be every so slightly smoother working in Google Slides on the Chromebook 13 than on my desktop. Certainly no issues and the usual drag and drop of images worked great. I thought this would be impossible on the chromebook, but it was a pleasant surprise!

10) Offline capabilities are fine. Anybody who has used Google Drive and Gmail in the last 12 months is likely familiar with their offline capabilities. They are the same here and identical to the experience on my laptop. This machine is not a brick when offline. On the contrary, it functions well for writing and other offline tasks with a long battery life.

Overall, the Acer chromebook 13 goes beyond my expectations. Many of the online reviews suggest this machine has either performance issues (perhaps fixed by os updates since August?) and a poor screen. Perhaps the screen does not live up to a MacBook Air screen, but it is better than most laptops I have used for the last 15 years. Likewise, the performance is exceptional. This machine is a game changer and we will be purchasing more of them in my household!


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