- Article: Acer Chromebook R 11 Convertible, 11.6-Inch HD Touch, Intel Celeron N3150, 4GB DDR3L, 32GB, Chrome, CB5-132T-C1LK laptop
- Type: Home laptop
- Operating system: Chrome Os
- RAM: 4 GB
- CPU: Intel Celeron
- CPU frequency: 1.20 Ghz
- Diagonal display: 11.6 Inch
- Display Resolution: 1366x768 pixels
- Type of hard disk: HDD
- Hard disk size: 32 GB
- Bluetooth: Yes
- Touchscreen: Yes
Acer's latest Chromebook has a touchscreen with a few special tricks. We find out how useful they really are in our Acer Chromebook R11 review.
ACER CHROMEBOOK R11 REVIEW
Since the release of Windows 10 we’ve seen lots of laptops with touchscreens and hinges enabling them to be transformed into rather heavy, cumbersome tablets. The R11 from Acer takes this format and brings it to a Chromebook, with varying degrees of success.
Of course this isn’t the first Chromebook with a touchscreen. Acer launched one in 2014 and we found it to be a fine machine (see our Acer C720p review) but the ability to angle the screen in a wide range of motion, from traditional laptop, around to fully flat against the back of the keyboard, makes the R11 here an interesting proposition that could appeal to a lot of users. Asus has also recently gone down this route with its C100P Flip device, so maybe we’ll see this space heat up in the coming months.
ACER CHROMEBOOK R11 REVIEW: PRICE
With a list price of £229.99 the R11 isn’t overly costly, but you can buy it in white from Currys for just £189.99. Of course Chromebooks are rarely expensive, except for the wonderfully exotic 2015 Chromebook Pixel. The touchscreen does elevate it above some of its competition, and the only direct competition around at the moment is the new Asus C100P Flip, which retails for £249.99, features a smaller 10.1” touchscreen, but can perform the same gymnastic feats as the R11.
If you don’t want these particular features then there are plenty of alternatives that can usually be found for a bit less. Toshiba’s Chromebook 2 is currently one of the best around, with a more spacious 13” screen, great performance, and available on Amazon for £199.
ACER CHROMEBOOK R11 REVIEW: DESIGN
We’ve grown accustomed to Chromebooks being lightweight, slim devices, that instantly promote mobility. It’s a little surprising then to see how relatively bulky the R11 seems at first glance. There are no tapering lines in the chassis, such as those found on the old Samsung Chromebook or Dell Chromebook 11, instead the R11 is quite blockish, with only beveled edges in the keyboard section breaking the industrial-style design. The top section is also thicker than you might expect, but both of these factors to have a sensible cause, and that is stability for the touchscreen.
The two sections are joined by thick silver hinges which give the R11 its major selling point. These dual-torque fittings allow the screen to move through 360 degrees, while being strong enough to hold any position without toppling over. This creates new possibilities for the R11, although how advantageous they are is open to debate.
If you want to watch media on your Chromebook, but don’t want the keyboard sticking out in front, you can position the R11 in Display mode. This is where the screen is folded back until the keyboard is placed facing down on the table and the screen is standing up. It’s a subtle difference, but can mean that the screen is closer to you if space is limited. As you would expect, the keyboard and mousepad are turned off in this mode, but the touchscreen controls make it easy to access controls without having to flip it over.
One added advantage in this mode is that the speakers, which are on the bottom of the chassis, actually point upwards, although we didn’t notice a significant increase in volume. Display mode is fine for watching YouTube or movies, but for anything else it’s limited as the screen wobbles slightly when you tap it. This would make typing search terms, or social media comments, usable but not entirely desirable.
Move the screen back further and you reach Tent mode. This forms an inverted V shape when looking at the R11 side-on, and adds stability to the device by standing it on the top of the screen and the bottom of the keyboard. Now when you tap the display you get a solid response, plus there’s the advantage that the footprint of the R11 is reduced so you could conceivably use it on an in-flight fold-down table.
The last mode is that of the Pad, or tablet, which has the screen folded completely flat against the back of the keyboard. ChromeOS makes good use of a touchscreen interface, mainly due to accessing everything through a web browser. It’s not a true tablet replacement though, as the 1.25kg weight and general bulk of the design makes anything other than brief stints of use uncomfortable, but in a pinch it could be a fun feature.
The screen itself is an 11.6in IPS display, running at a 1366x768 resolution. It’s bright, clear, and presents colours in an attractive fashion, but off-axis viewing angles curtail pretty quickly. Ports that decorate the chassis include USB 2.0, USB 3.0, HDMI, an SD card reader, plus a standard headphone socket. While Internally Acer has opted to fit an Intel Celeron N3050 1.6GHz CPU, 2GB of RAM, and a 16GB SSD for local storage.
ACER CHROMEBOOK R11 REVIEW: PERFORMANCE
For all its impressive contortionist tricks the R11 is a let down by a couple of things. In general use it’s a nice little machine. The keyboard is good to type on, the touchscreen is responsive and accurate, but the first stumbling block is the trackpad. Again, for a lot of things it’s perfectly fine, but we did notice a tendency for it to be over-sensitive at times, with the cursor jumping across the screen rather than flowing smoothly. The pad itself is also stiff when clicking, although enabling the tap-to-click option in ChromeOS deals with that issue comfortably.
The main beef, though, is that the R11 feels sluggish when navigating the web - the Number One job for any Chromebook. Pages can take a while to load, and if they have multiple videos loading up you can experience significant delays waiting for the screen to format properly. Several times we noticed that a video open in another tab would stall briefly while we refreshed the Gmail app or clicked on a link.
As we’ve seen on other lower end devices recently, a 2GB RAM allocation isn’t really going to cut it on the modern web. As far as we know, and judging by the listings on Acer’s US site, there should be a 4GB version of the R11 coming out, and we suspect that the shortcomings of this review model would be solved by the simple addition of that extra RAM. That’s not to say that this R11 isn’t worth buying. If you tend to work on one thing at a time, or simply want to stream YouTube videos, movies, or listen to music, then this machine can do that very well.
One standout feature the R11 can boast is its battery life. In our looped video test the device held out for a very impressive nine and a half hours, which would get you through a majority of long haul flights. It's enough for several days of occasional use between charges.
The R11 is a decent, if unspectacular device. Having the option to position it in a variety of modes is fun, but the sometimes sluggish performance makes it hard to recommend to anyone who wants to do more than a couple of simultaneous tasks. If your needs are light and you value the flexible hinges though, it’s a nice machine all the same, but we’d still opt to wait for the 4GB alternative.Source
Chromebooks are in an odd spot in the laptop marketplace. Acting essentially as an access point for Google Chrome, their focus is clear and singular: the web. As such, they don't require a lot of power, and we often see a lot of similar specs no matter which manufacturer you're talking about. To stand out from the pack, Acer's Chromebook R11 has the distinction of being the company's first convertible Chromebook thanks to its 360-degree hinge.
With an attractive, if not overly-flashy design, the Acer Chromebook R11 enters the competitive arena of budget laptops carrying a recommended price tag of $329 (£221, AU$455), but it can currently be found at sub-$300 price points for the 2GB model. For comparison's sake, the 11.6-inch Chromebook R11 competes in the same range as the rugged Dell Chromebook 11 ($249, £170, AU$320) and the sleek Asus Chromebook Flip ($249, £160, AU$337), which also features a 360-degree convertible display.
Price is probably on your mind if you're looking at Chromebooks, but if your main concern is size, Apple's 11-inch MacBook Air ($899, £605, AU$1,155) will give you more sheer power and versatility over a Chrome OS machine. In exchange for power, however, you'll be missing out on the Chromebook R11's touchscreen and convertible form factor.
The Acer Chromebook R11 is largely made up of a thin, white plastic chassis with a matte finish. Where that design differs, however, is on the lid of the machine, which features a textured white metal panel that looks and feels great.
In fact, that texture extends throughout the entirety of the Chromebook R11's exterior, giving the laptop a nice grippy feeling while carrying it around. It's a minor flourish, but the diamond-weave texture gives what could be a boring white slab a bit of panache. The R11 is far from what I'd consider sexy, but it's not boring either.
Despite being a largely plastic affair, the R11 feels surprisingly sturdy in the hands, with little to no give whatsoever. The only complaint worth noting here is the R11's white exterior, which proved to be pretty adept at picking up various smudges seemingly at random. Truthfully, this is something you'll run into with any piece of white tech, but that textured finish may be helping to pick things up.
On the top of the Chromebook R11, you'll find the aforementioned metal panel adorned with both Acer and Chrome logos, and that's it. On the other side of the panel lies the 11.6-inch, 1,366 x 768 resolution, touch-enabled display, with a shiny Acer logo just below. On the base of the R11 sits a slightly recessed keyboard with a set of slightly-textured chiclet keys. Further below that is a relatively wide trackpad with ample palm rests.
One of the big benefits of the Chromebook R11 is its size and weight. The R11 weighs just 2.76 pounds (1.25kg), with a relatively small frame of 11.57 x 8.03 x 0.76 inches (29 x 20.3 x 1.9cm) (W x D x H). This comes in slightly smaller than the competing Dell Chromebook 11 with its 2.91 pound 11.69 x 8.57 x 0.83 inch frame. Acer's offering even compares well to the slightly smaller Asus Chromebook Flip, which weighs 1.96 pounds (0.88kg) and measures 10.6 x 7.2 x 0.6 inches.
As for ports, the Acer Chromebook R11 features one USB 2.0 and one USB 3.0 port, each occupying separate sides. There's also a full-size HDMI port with HDCP support, a headphone jack, and an SD card slot for transferring files and photos.
In terms of specs, the Chromebook R11 falls right in line with the rest of the Chromebook market. Powering the machine is a 1.6GHz quad-core Intel Celeron N3150 processor, along with either 2 or 4GB of RAM. Inside, there's also 32GB of storage, which may seem small, but it's important to remember you're unlikely to be storing a ton of files on the machine itself. It's also worth mentioning that, for the time being, you'll score 100GB of free Google Drive storage when purchasing the R11, so you'll have plenty of space to store things in the cloud.
For comparison, the Acer Chromebook R11 does one-up some of the competition. The Dell Chromebook 11, for example, matches the R11 with 4GB of RAM, but falls short with 16GB of storage and the less-capable 2.6GHz dual-core Intel Celeron N2840 processor (clock speed isn't everything!). Similarly, the R11 outclasses the convertible Asus Chromebook Flip in terms of RAM and storage, with the latter sporting 2GB of memory and 16GB of internal storage.
Here's the Acer Chromebook R11 configuration sent to techradar:
- Processor: 1.6GHz quad-core Intel Celeron N3150 (quad-core, 3MB cache, up to 2.08GHz with Turbo Boost)
- Graphics: Integrated Intel HD Graphics
- Memory: 4GB DDR3L
- Storage: 32GB
- Screen: 11.6 HD, 1,366 x 768 touchscreen, LED-backlit IPS
- Camera: 720p webcam
- Wireless: 802.11ac (B/G/N) dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0
- Ports: 1x USB 2.0, 1x USB 3.0, 1x HDMI with HDCP, 1x 3.5mm headphone jack, 1x SD card slot
- Weight: 2.76lbs
- Size: 11.57 x 8.03 x 0.76 inches (W x D x H)
In my testing, including writing this review with a dozen tabs open, the Acer Chromebook R11 performed admirably, albeit with a few minor hiccups. The combination of the Intel Celeron N3150 processor and 4GB of RAM kept things surprisingly fluid even when typing in a Google Doc with a couple of YouTube videos silently streaming and pumping jams through Google Play Music.
I did notice some minor hiccups in performance with the R11, however. Occasionally, Google Docs seemed to struggle with keeping up with my typing. The lag was infrequent and typically worked itself out in a second or so, but it broke my train of thought several times in writing this review.
Similarly, while switching between the dozen or so tabs I had running was generally fine, opening a new tab and loading something like Facebook or YouTube took a little more patience than I'm used to.
Of course, I'm coming from a fully decked-out MacBook Pro as my daily driver, so my base of comparison is a little skewed. My guess is that this simply comes down to RAM usage: I managed to stay under the 4GB cap with a large number of open tabs while streaming music and video, but only just barely. It's highly unlikely that any real world use is going to involve streaming several videos and music at the same time, so this bodes well for the 4GB R11, but it's a bit concerning for buyers who opt for 2GB of RAM.
Here's how the Acer Chromebook R11 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:
- Octane: 8,113
- Mozilla Kraken: 4,789
- Sunspider: 704
In the final Sunspider test, Asus' Chromebook Flip does manage to come out ahead by a smidge with a score of 686 compared to the Acer's 704 (lower is better).Source