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Hands-on Gear Review
Acer 11 ReviewPrice: $180 List | $153.00 at Amazon
Pros: Inexpensive, good keyboard
Cons: Slow web browsing, feels cheap and flimsy, trackpad is clunky
Bottom line: Acceptable for very basic tasks, but the vast majority of users would be better of with 4GB of RAM
The Acer 11 is one of the most inexpensive Chromebooks we tested, but it feels like it. The plastic body certainly feels flimsy compared to other models. It also has just 2GB of RAM, meaning it is only suitable for the lightest of web browsing. Otherwise you'll be treated to a feast of laggy, jumpy scrolling and disjointed music streaming. Unfortunately a reasonably nice keyboard and not terrible screen come nowhere close to making up for these shortcomings. In general we wouldn't recommend buying a Chromebook with 2GB of RAM, and the Acer 11 is no exception.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Like all of the models we tested that had 2GB of RAM, the Acer 11 earned the low score of 3 out of 10 in our performance testing. This was far below the 4GB models, which scored from 8 to 9. Browsing with less than five tabs open on this machine was fine, but opening more tabs or throwing some sort of music or video streaming into the mix brought things to a screeching halt. When we tried to push this machine at all windows took forever to open, scrolling became laggy, we'd type a full sentence before any words appeared on the screen, and we could not load the latest cat video that had been passed around the office. This lack of speed made the Acer 14 suitable for single tasks like checking email, browsing one news site, or editing a single Google document, but not much else. We would strongly recommend opting for 4GB of RAM. The Acer 11 has the standard 16GB of internal memory, and does have a standard size SD card slot that can expand upon that memory. Like all of the models we tested, it was able to make it through an entire workday on a single charge, and has a reported battery life of 9 hours.
The Acer 11 scored a 7 out of 10 in our interface testing. This put it right in the middle of a metric that had scores falling between 5 and 9. It had one of the better keyboards of the models we tested. The keys felt responsive and were spaced naturally enough to facilitate an easy transition from a full sized keyboard. We were perfectly happy using the keyboard to compose long emails and multiple page Google Docs. It lost points due to its trackpad, which was disappointingly clumsy. Fingers didn't seem to glide well on it, and had a loud, sloppy feeling click.
The Acer 11 scored a 6 out of 10 in our screen quality testing. This ended up being an average score in a metric that saw scores ranging from 5 to 9, as all the screens we tested were very similar except for one outstanding model. At 11.6 inches the Acer 11's screen is right between a tablet and a traditional laptop in terms of size. The 1366 x 768 resolution is just a bit better than 720p, and is fairly standard across Chromebooks. This resolution is plenty for most applications, but if you like to watch movies on your laptop you might want to opt for something that is full 1080p high definition, like the Acer 14. While watching videos and looking at photographs the colors looked reasonably good on the Acer 11's screen, but not quite as vibrant as on the top scorer. There is an HDMI port if you're looking to connect the Acer 11 to a larger monitor. All in all the Acer 11 has a fairly standard screen that works fine for most Chromebook applications.
With a score of 7 out of 10 the Acer 11 was a reasonably good performer in our portability testing, as most models scored from 5 to 7 with one outstanding model scoring a perfect 10. Weighing in at 2.4 pounds the Acer 11 in on the lighter end, and definitely won't make your bag feel heavy. The 11.6 inch size is considerably smaller than a traditional laptop, and thus feels like it doesn't take up an space at all.
The Acer 11 is one of the most inexpensive models we tested with a list price of $180. However, with the low level of performance that comes with just 2GB of RAM, even this low price feels like a lot to pay for the Acer 11. Especially considering that by spending just $20 more you can get the ASUS C201, which has 4GB of RAM and astronomically better performance.
The Acer 11 is inexpensive, but with just 2GB of RAM it struggles to keep up with even moderate web browsing. 4GB models are available for not much more, and we would strongly recommend going that route.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata
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