A lot of things to a lot of people
The Acer Chromebook R11 2-in1 was one of the first wave of Chromebooks to offer the Google Play App Store. I wondered if this addition was going to be value added or somewhat of a distraction from an otherwise great operating system. I held off doing this review for a little while, to see if I was missing the point. I didn’t see what adding Android apps to a laptop would really bring to the table.
First Things First
As a laptop the R11 is great, the screen is bright from a lot of angles and while not a full 1080p HD screen it is still a respectable 720p Standard HD panel. It renders colors bright and there is little to no lag in fast scenes. It is comfortable on the eyes to look at for long periods of time. The keyboard is soft, without being squishy. It is the closest to the MacBook keyboard on a Chromebook I have had the chance to use.
I have not been a huge fan of the 11-inch form factor in the past. But this one does make it work without the keyboard feeling cramped or leaving me wishing I had more room on the screen.
The processor is snappy and web pages came up quickly without any issues with running multiple tabs at the same time. Chrome is great about “pausing” tabs that are currently active. This helps keep resources where they are needed, on the tab you are working on. Battery life benefits from this also. I was able to consistently get 10 hours out of a charge, a little less when running the power hungry Android games my son wanted to play.
For surfing the web and checking email, etc. There is no reason that this laptop cannot last you all day on a charge.
On the back is a full aluminum panel with a texture to it. Not sure how to describe it overall, but it feels nice to the touch. This laptop does not feel like a sub-$300 machine. The hinges are sturdy and the overall build is tight and attractive.
The trackpad is large and does a good job of rejecting errant taps or your palm when you have lazy typing form like I do. I have had some laptops that the cursor jumps all over with the slightest misplaced thumb or palm
The white chassis is bright without being loud. It is a subtle white color that looks professional and breaks up the sea of gray aluminum laptops you see everywhere now. It stands out for sure, but not in a bad way.
This is also a 2-in-1 laptop, which means you can use it like a normal laptop, or a tablet by folding it back on itself. This also comes in handy when you can fold it into a backward “L” to give it better stability to watch videos or play games on the responsive touchscreen. I never really tried tent mode, but it works.
The speakers are down firing when in the laptop configuration, but side firing in all other orientations. They are loud and can fill a small room with sound. It reproduces sounds well, if a little lacking in bass. Which is pretty normal for a laptop.
The R11 has what you need to get through the day, a headphone jack, full-size HDMI port, 2 USB ports (1 3.0, 1 2.0) located on opposite sides of the machine. They are well spaced to not interfere with the ports next to them.
Also included is an SD card slot. This allows you to expand on the included 32GB eMMC flash storage. I tested it with a 32GB SD card and read/write times were great. I was able to stream video content from the card with no hesitation or lag.
Power is from the provided connection, the usual round plug. There is not an option for USB-C. While most newer laptops are moving towards the new USB standard this one still has a legacy power connection. Most of the Chromebooks coming out this year are going to opt for the USB-C Standard.
So what everyone is waiting for. Android on a computer. The promise of convergence, the holy grail of computing, at least for me. I want to be able to work on my laptop, move to my phone and back to the laptop when needed without breaking what I was working on. While in theory, this should be easy, and Chrome gets me close, as far as web browsing goes. There are still some holes in the execution.
Most people already think that the ChromeOS, since it comes from Google, that it is just a big version of Android already. This is not true. In reality, ChromeOS is a fork (different version) of Gentoo Linux. (For more about Linux, check out this article). Android is a Java-based operating system that was designed for SmartPhones. I don’t think the designers at Google ever imagined putting it on a computer. But here we are.
The one thing I see as the advantage of bringing Android to Chrome is the inclusion of games. You can now play a lot of the games that are available on Android on your Chromebook. I don’t game that much anymore, but my son was excited to get to play Lego Star Wars on the 11-inch laptop screen as opposed to playing on my 5-inch phone screen, or 7-inch tablet.
What about Microsoft Office Apps? Well, no. You cannot install the Microsoft Office apps on the Chromebook. Nor can you install Minecraft or anything else in the Microsoft family of Apps. With the rumor of Microsoft releasing their own version of a Chromebook soon, this is not a huge surprise.
On the other hand, you can install Instagram, which, if you keep a lot of your picture on your computer, or you don’t have a smartphone, you can now interact with the app like you would on the phone. There is also the added benefit of being able to see your friends food pictures in 11inch 720p glory!
As Chromebooks go, the Acer R11 is one of the better ones. It is a good form factor, and comfortable to use. The fit and finish of the construction materials feel nice in the hand and the touch screen is responsive. While you probably won’t use it in tablet mode a lot, since it is heavy as a tablet, it is nice to have the option. The processor is snappy and the 4GB of RAM is more than enough to handle everyday tasks.
Should you buy this for the Android apps, in my experience, no. Is it a nice addition, yes. If you need a second laptop that will mostly be used for consuming streaming media or entertaining the kids, this is the one. If you need a serious performer to get some work done on, I would still go with my favorite, the Acer Chromebook 14.
Whatever your reasons, adding a great Chromebook to your lineup is always a great idea.
What are your thoughts on Android apps coming to the Chromebook, leave a comment below. Also, for more information and to find out when new articles are posted. Sign up for our email list.