Tag Archives: chromebook

The Acer C720 Chromebook

C720 Chromebook

Late last year Acer announced the C720 Chromebook. A Haswell-powered laptop that was small, thin, and light that offered impressive life was something I had to see, and after waiting a few weeks for local availability to no avail, I had one shipped from the US. After spending a bit of time with it, I’ve found it’s perhaps one of the best laptops I’ve ever used.

The first thing you have to understand about a Chromebook is that while it may look and feel like a normal laptop, it’s pretty different. The operating system it runs, Chrome OS, is basically a web browser and very little else. Because of that, the laptop is at its most useful when connected to the internet. There are a number of offline apps you can run and things you can do when it isn’t, of course, but it’s like having a car without petrol; you can still sit in it, listen to the radio, twiddle some knobs, that kind of thing, but its usefulness will be significantly diminished.

With Chromebooks, Google have latched onto this idea that everyone has an internet connection.

Chromebook file browser

Chrome OS is basically just Chrome the browser, with a few add-ons. While it may not be as fully-fledged as something like Windows or OS X1, it’s still more than capable of performing basic tasks. It comes with a rudimentary file browser for looking at and transferring files from USB sticks and SD cards — something you’ll note iOS doesn’t have. It can view and playback a variety of file formats — it had no trouble with PDF files, images, or even a few video files I threw at it — and you can even sort things out into folders like you would a normal filesystem. It’s the basics, and that’s it2; it’s not spectacular, just serviceable.

C720 Chromebook keyboard

And it’s this “not spectacular, just serviceable” attitude that defines the C720 Chromebook. The keyboard, while not exactly the epitome of tactile feedback, is not spectacular, just serviceable; you probably won’t enjoy typing on it for an extended period of time, but it works perfectly well for its intended use. The chiclet-style keys have even less travel than the ones on the standard Apple keyboard3, something I didn’t realise was possible until I started using the keyboard on the C720 to type out blog posts just like this one. While the keys themselves aren’t noticeably smaller than a traditional keyboard, there’s also no keyboard backlighting here either, although to be fair, expecting a keyboard backlight on a $250 laptop is probably asking for a bit much. If I had to improve one area on the C720, it would be the keyboard. It’s fine for typing the occasional web address or Google search, but doing any kind of lengthy typing on it is not spectacular, just serviceable.

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Stuff from Amazon and other random purchases

Me, yesterday:

Amazon not shipping things to Australia is the bane of my existence. Or cool stuff not being available in Australia, one of the two.

Every time I get a link to yet another cool thing from Amazon they won’t ship to Australia, I put it in a special collection of bookmarks and forget about it for a little while. And every now and again (i.e. a few times a year), I pick and choose a few things that I actually want and do a shipment via OPAS, my package forwarder of choice. Sign up using my referral link, and you’ll get free registration (usually $25) and I’ll get a credit every time you ship something with them.

Shameless self-promotion aside, this last shipment of stuff from Amazon was pretty impressive.

stuff from amazonIn no particular order:

  • Cyalume 10″ SnapLights in green and white — apparently these are the best chemical lights money can buy. I just had to have some. (I have a bit of an obsession with glow sticks. Weird, I know.)

  • Fenix PD35 — pretty decent torch for the money. Takes either two CR123A batteries or one 18650 battery. Seriously bright, too, and the strobe is impressive, to say the least.

  • Gerber E.A.B. Pocket Knife (and the Lite version) — I saw these on Uncrate a little while ago and thought they’d be cool. I had intended to use them as an every day carry kind of thing, but decided that was just asking for trouble. They’re really nice, though. After purchasing I wasn’t sure if they would make it through customs, but here they are.

  • Lenox Gold titanium-edged utility blades — two packs of five. Titanium edged razor blades! Crazy. To go with the pocket knives.

  • iTP EOS A3 flashlight — 96 lumen output from one AAA battery, in a minimal design not much longer than a standard house key. It replaced the ageing Star Wars lightsaber laser that previously adorned my keyring. Waterproof, too.

  • ThruNight Ti2 flashlight — pretty much the same thing as the iTP EOS A3, except with a slightly newer version of the CREE LED inside (CREE XP-G2 versus XP-G). Also waterproof, etc.

Not pictured:

And finally, the pièce de résistance:

Acer C720 Chromebook box

  • One Acer C720 Chromebook (specs via Anandtech). Ever since this was announced earlier in October I’ve wanted one. Didn’t really want to wait for it to become available locally (who knows how long that will take), so I imported one from Amazon. It’s honestly pretty great for a $250 laptop — I’ll have a full review up in the next month or so.

All in all, all of the above was around $160 to ship to my door — expensive, yes, but it arrived in around 6 business days. The bad news is, I’m already planning my next Amazon shipment (something I should have bought along with the C720 but failed to think about ahead of time). One item might not be so bad, shipping wise.

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