We've seen a dozen Chromebooks and it's fair to say few have ever impressed us. Why? Because of poor screen choices with limited angles of view.
Not so the Acer Chromebook R11. By packing in an IPS touchscreen panel this 11.6-incher can be tilted to extreme angles without the contrast dropping off the charts. We got to see it in action following the company's IFA press conference and it performs well, although the 1366 x 768 resolution is hardly ground-breaking stuff.
Good job, too, as the Chromebook R11's special move is its 360-degree dual hinge feature, enabling the laptop to stand in a traditional, tablet (-ish, given the 19.4mm thickness), tent, or upright position (with the keyboard face down) depending on how you want to use it. It's the same hinge and style as seen in the Acer Aspire R11 Windows device, which we found worked well when reviewed earlier this year.
Now we're not saying the Chromebook R11's screen is perfect, but as budget Chromebooks go it ticks the right boxes. And it doesn't fall into the same pitfall as the Aspire R11 which paired a poor screen with the 360-degree hinge feature.
Although the Chromebook R11 attempts to combat its budget looks by adhering a textured aluminium panel to its front, it can't shy away from the fact it's a budget laptop, and looks like one. The 1.25kg weight and 19.2mm thickness aren't overbearing though, which will be important for those on the go.
As the Chromebook R11 will cost €299 when it launches in October we weren't expecting titanium, diamonds and the full hooha. But as we found with the Aspire R11's simple build quality that's not a bad thing, so long as you know what you're buying into. It's simple and effective.
The main issue with the Chromebook R11 is the use of a not-so-nice trackpad that just feels ridgid and pernickety in use. The keyboard isn't outstanding either, but the raised keys are large and well-spaced to make for an acceptable typing experience.
The Google operating system on board also won't be for everyone as it can only run simple web-based applications for the main part, but it's largely been adopted by students whose core tasks will involve word processing, quick photo editing and a machine that will act as a hub to the internet. The Chromebook R11 will handle all that no problems.