We're not the biggest Chromebook fans here at Pocket-lint, but they've been going down a storm with the public eager to snap up these affordable Google-OS-based machines. And Acer has stepped up to the plate and introduced the first affordable touchscreen Chromebook, the C720P.
Announced some months ago, it's only now at the Consumer Electronics Show 2014 that we've had the opportunity to get our hands on the device. So how does it feel? If you're keen on the idea of touch, but don't have a spare grand to fork out on the turbo-powered Google Chromebook Pixel then this makes a lot of sense.
READ: Chromebook Pixel review
If, that is, you like what Chromebooks are all about. With an operating system akin to a browser there are limitations to what can be performed. Think of it like the new wave netbook and, assuming you have a Wi-Fi connection as there's no on-the-go connectivity support, then it could be the kit for you if all you really need to do is browse the web, word process, and do other relatively lightweight tasks. That's the strength of Chromebook.
However the touchscreen panel does make the C720P's 11.6-inch screen reflective, more so than the cheaper and non-touch-based C720, which is an irritation. Add that to a screen with limited angles of view and a so-so 1366 x 768 resolution and, for us, it doesn't make for comfortable long term use. What Acer needed to do here was opt for an IPS panel like the one in the HP Chromebook 11 (despite that device also having plenty of shortcomings and being recalled because of a faulty charger).
READ: HP Chromebook 11 review
In terms of speed the Acer is fast to load thanks to a 32GB SSD on board, and with an apparent 7.5 hours of battery life per charge thanks to a Haswell processor inside - we've not used it for such a long period so can't comment on the accuracy of that - there is a lot to like on the specs front. There's also 100GB of Google Drive space provided for two years, a Chromebook standard.
Finished up in a matte white exterior the Acer C720P doesn't look offensive, but its 1.36kg weight and 2cm thickness would make us reach out for a tablet instead of this any day of the week. We definitely like the inclusion of USB ports and an SD card slot though and typing is comfortable too.
Chromebooks look here to stay, and the C720P is a price savvy offering. But the screen is not all that and, realistically, we'd either opt for the non-touch version for less cash or bypass Chromebook altogether and opt for a tablet instead. That's what it boils down to.