Ed. Note: After publication, Acer changed the price from $250 to $270 which is only $20 more but quite a bit in this budget segment.
The Chromebook train keeps on trucking with Google’s partner companies turning out new, better specced, higher quality devices every few weeks it seems. Today we are taking a quick look at Acer’s new $270 fanless 4GB Chromebook 11 (CB311-8H-C5DV) in an Indigo Blue matte finish. It puts a speedy higher end 4GB/32GB SSD storage into a durable package kids will love.
Right out of the box it is apparent that Acer has been fine tuning its base model laptop game. The indigo blue matte case is a big improvement over the faux aluminum silver/gray that I’m used to in this segment. It also gives it some character that kids will enjoy.
Also, compared to older Acer base model Chromebooks, this one is 1.1kg light and 18mm thin, really easing the load for young students who carry their Chromebooks in their backpacks.
As with most Chromebooks, installation is a minute or so, simply needing to add the Wi-Fi password and entering your Google account info.
It comes with a 45W USB-C charger that can be inserted in either side of the laptop, making it super easy to maneuver based on location. USB-C means it can also be charged easily from a USB port in a car, portable battery, AC plug adapter or even another computer! Note that typical 2A/5V USB A ports will only charge when the device is off and will only hold the charge while being used. If you want to charge and use it at the same time, you’ll need a higher power USB-C charger like the included 45W adapter.
My son Jax loves this and (full disclosure) helped write this review
Hey Apple, take notes here on what 2018 laptop users need: 2 USB-C ports on either side of the computer, 2 USB-A legacy ports on either side of the computer, a MicroSD card slot and headphone/mic/speaker aux port on the left side and a lock port on the right. The only thing I might add would be an HDMI out. However, USB-C to HDMI dongles are available if needed and we’re trying to keep the size and price of this thing down, right?
Right out of the gate, this doesn’t feel like a bargain laptop. With an Intel Dual-Core Processor 1.1GHz Burst to 2.4GHz Celeron N3350 this may not sound top end, but it is enough power and the 4GB of RAM and 32GB of SSD take the new baseline to the old top end level. With 6 tabs open, it still runs very fast.
Here’s a list of Acer provided speed tests as well as my Octane 2.0 score below.
Video Rundown (Battery) 16:36 to 17:44 WiFi Rundown (Battery) 10:48 to 12:00 BaseMark Web 3.0 165.49 to 180.64 JetStream 54.677 to 55.213 Octane 2.0 10645 to 11036 Kraken 1.1 3713.7 to 3747.5 RoboHornet 75.53 to 76.4 WebXPRT 63 – 64 CrXPERT 99 –100
Bottom line, it will run today’s web and Play Store apps very well and be usable for a number of (4?) years.
The 1366×768 resolution display is 11.6 inches diagonal with big bezels which is probably this laptop’s weakest spot. Even for kids, that is starting to feel a little cramped and I feel like 13-inch HD displays should start creeping into base model machines. That said, it has good angles and is bright even in direct sunlight. Speaking of Wide, the front facing wide angle HDR 720P camera is fantastic for Hangouts or whatever Google changes its messaging app to tomorrow. Sound, both default mic in and speaker, is solid for a base level laptop but again, not going to blow anyone away.
This is a baseline laptop so there is no touch display, (Acer says an upgraded model with touch is coming) and its heavy duty hinge only folds out 180 degrees so no cinema or tablet modes here.
Keyboard and Trackpad
Aside from the lack of backlighting, all but impossible in a low end machine, I absolutely love the keyboard and trackpad here. Soft, reliable keys (ahem MacBook) and a trackpad that works just as it should without registering false clicks. Regarding backlighting, the lettering on the keyboards is bright but I wonder if a future budget option could include some glow in the dark paint.
I’ve only run down the battery twice so far but the listed 3500mAh 10 hour spec probably translates, like my MacBook Pro, to 6-8 hours of regular usage. That will last a kid a whole school day and throw in some time for homework.
While this is a plastic case, it feels very sturdy. Even the hinges, which are often the weak spots on bargain laptops feel like they will last a long time.
I’m a big fan of this Chromebook and even more importantly, so are my Chromebook-using 1st and 4th graders. I love the fact that as a base model machine, it packs 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage for Android apps and local storage. It has exactly the right ports and its form factor would be perfect as well, if it housed a more generous display.
ACER CHROMEBOOK 11 CB311-8H-C5DV SPECIFICATIONS
- Processor: Intel Celeron N3350 Dual-Core Processor 1.1GHz up to 2.4GHz with Intel Burst Technology
- OS: Google Chrome
- Display: 11.6-inch HD ComfyView LED-backlit display with IPS technology and 1366×768 resolution; 16:9 aspect ratio
- Memory: 4GB LPDDR3 SDRAM support
- Video: Integrated Intel HD Graphics 520
- Audio: High-definition audio support, two built-in stereo speakers, built-in microphone
- Storage: 32GB eMMC
- Digital Media Card Reader: microSD card reader (supports up to 128GB cards)
- Communications: 802.11ac 2×2 MIMO dual-band WiFi; Bluetooth 4.2
- Webcam: HD Webcam Wide-Angle 1280×720 supports High Dynamic Range
Input and Output
- 2 – USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type C
- 2 – USB 3.0 Port
- 1 – Headphone/Speaker Jack
- 1 – DC–In Jack for AC Adapter
- Chrome OS Keyboard: Chrome OS function keys and browser controls
- Touchpad: Fully clickable touchpad featuring click-anywhere functionality
- Battery Life: Up to 10 Hours of Battery Life
- Battery Type: 3-Cell Li-Ion Battery (3490 mAh)
- Dimensions: 11.65w x 7.83d x 0.71h inches
- Weight: 2.43 lbs
- Color: Indigo Blue
- Warranty: One Year International Limited Warranty