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Regular readers of the Speed Up My PC Free blog already know how important speed and performance are to us. But there’s one thing we appreciate even more than speed and performance: saving money!
And that’s why we’re always on the hunt for the cheapest computers and the most cost-effective ways to speed up PCs. A recently released laptop from Acer caught our eye. And before you can cry out “paid advertising!”, you need to relax, because we’re not being paid anything for this writeup. We just want you to know there’s a cheap and fast computer available on the market today.
The C7 Chromebook runs Chrome OS, which means it is best used for accessing the internet. The exterior of the laptop is basic but clean, and the gray-blue lid actually looks pretty good.
But let’s be honest: the best feature of the C7 Chromebook has to be its price. At $199, it’s tough to find a better price-to-performance ratio.
Here are the technical specs for the Acer C7 Chromebook:
-11.6” screen with 1366×768 resolution
-Up to 4 hours of battery life
-Dual core Intel CPU
-320GB hard drive (also includes 100GB of Google Drive Cloud Storage valid for two years from the date you activate your laptop)
-3 USB ports, 1 HDMI port, and 1 VGA port
-SD memory card slot that doubles as an MMC slot
-2GB of RAM
For $199, that’s not bad. Sure, 2GB of RAM wouldn’t get you very far on Windows, but Chrome OS is a lot more efficient with its memory usage because it needs to do so much less. This also makes the comparatively weak CPU seem like an acceptable compromise.
The advantages of the C7 Chromebook
There are plenty of good things to say about the C7 Chromebook. Here are a few of our favorite features:
-It’s fast and intuitive: Why do they call laptops like this ‘Chromebooks’? Well, they’re optimized to run the Chrome browser and Chrome OS as efficiently as possible. Despite its limited power, the C7 operates Chrome OS very smoothly, and browsing the internet is a breeze.
Web apps add functionality: Although you can’t really install programs onto your Chromebook, you can install new web apps. And the web app market is booming. There are video games to try out as well as office-related apps and all sorts of other helpful tools. These web apps are no replacement for full-fledged desktop software, but they’re not as limited as you might expect.
Lots of storage space: The 320GB hard drive is generous, but as a nice added touch, Google also included a free two year premium subscription to Google Drive. Users get 100GB of cloud storage space upon activation. And for those who are worried about not being able to access their content when they don’t have internet access, rest assured that the C7 Chromebook is smart enough to cache files offline and re-sync when an internet connection is available.
Decent trackpad: Although trackpads are not an ideal way to navigate any laptop, they’re the best option aside from attaching an external mouse. The trackpad on the C7 works as well as you would expect, including two-finger side scrolling and flawless tracking.
Any time you spend $199 on a laptop, you’re going to encounter some significant drawbacks. For many people, those drawbacks will be dealbreakers. Here are the areas where Acer cut corners in order to achieve a $199 price point:
-Restrictive Chrome OS: Google’s Chrome OS is effectively the desktop version of Android. In fact, the company plans to merge Chrome OS into Android in the near future. But Chrome OS is no Windows. In fact, Chrome OS won’t really run any programs not made by Google. You can access the internet and perform basic office-style tasks through Google Drive/Google Documents, but beyond that, this is strictly a web-browsing machine. Yes, there’s a desktop, but don’t expect to see more than a few links to Google apps on it.
-Awkward weight and cheap plastic design: Don’t expect brushed aluminum paneling to greet you when you pull out your Acer C7. Instead, the entire frame is made of plastic that feels cheap. Plus, the battery at the back of the case makes up the majority of its weight, so you’ll have to be careful while holding the laptop or else it will be awkwardly unbalanced. If you dropped the Chromebook onto a hard surface, it feels like it would shatter into a few hundred pieces upon impact.
Conclusion – is it worth $199?
If you’re strictly looking at the quality you get for $199, then the C7 is most definitely worth it. You’re not going to find a cheaper laptop on the market today. It’s perfect for people who treat their laptops very carefully and only need something they can use to browse the internet. If that sounds like you, then the C7 Chromebook is a perfect solution.
However, there are better options available – even in the low priced Chromebook range. Those options include the Samsung Chromebook for $249 and the Samsung Chromebook 550 for $449, both of which offer significantly sturdier build quality, battery life, and added features like Bluetooth for just a few dollars more.
Our pick is the Samsung Chromebook for $249. If you’re going to spend $199 on a laptop, you probably have room in your budget to spend another $50. Splurge and buy the Samsung Chromebook. But whether you’re buying the C7 or the Samsung Chromebook, you’re getting a very powerful machine at a price that is nearly impossible to beat.