In April this year, Acer held its annual Next at Acer press conference in Manhattan, New York, where the Taiwanese company revealed a vast range of products including their Chromebook 715 notebooks.
With Chromebooks up until now, the ones available in South Africa at least, focused on education, Acer’s latest batch of offerings are now aimed at the enterprise sector sporting the Chrome OS.
Traditionally low on processing power and requiring a dedicated internet connection to get a fully fledged experience, is there a place for Chromebooks, and Acer’s latest one in particular, in the workplace?
To find that out I took the opportunity to review the Acer Chromebook 715, and full disclosure, I must admit that this is the first Chromebook that I’ve reviewed, having used Windows and Mac devices up until now.
At first glance the Chromebook 715 is understatedly stylish and thin, with the Taiwanese company covering it in an aluminium chassis, which extends to the back of the notebook. The aforementioned chassis also helps to minimise scratches and dents on the notebook, which is a good thing since clumsiness can befall even the most careful person.
When opening the 715 we noticed that unlike most common notebooks that have the touchpad at the centre, this one has it located slightly to the left of centre. While this was an interesting fact, we also noticed that the touchpad was covered with Corning Gorilla Glass which made scrolling smooth and also protected it from scratching.
Another intriguing aspect about the design of this notebook was the keyboard. It has its own numeric keypad on the far right hand side, and the keys are soft and easy to type on with a natural feel on the fingertips. If you’re wanting the hard clicking and clacking of a mechanical keyboard, look elsewhere.
The keyboard is also backlit, which is great if you have to type in the dark, with the power button being integrated into the keyboard layout and not a standalone option on a different part of the notebook.
The Chromebook 715 has a large IPS 16.5″ HD display with a resolution of 1920×1080. The large screen size is nice to have when multitasking, especially if you need to work in two or three applications at a time.
The brightness on offer from the screen is solid, with its performance at 50 percent good enough to ensure all the visuals can be clearly viewed while working indoors and outdoors. If you really want the brightness turned up though, at 100 percent it’s good enough to illuminate a small room if needed.
Above the screen sits an HDR webcam that comes with an extra wide lens to capture the entire room while using it for video calls.
We also enjoyed the fact that the search launchpad was at the bottom left of the screen, and when entering your desired browser it pops up in the middle of the display, which allows you to continue seeing all the other sites that you have opened. The battery level, time and networks are displayed in the bottom right of the screen in an oval-shaped format, that can be maximised to see settings and login details.
Overall the experience of Chrome OS was enjoyable, but there is definitely a learning curve for those who are used to the likes of Windows. As such if you own an Android phone, don’t assume that things will be easy to pick up in Chrome OS.
The Hidden Power
The Acer Chromebook 715 comes with an Intel Celeron 3867U processor, which clocks at a modest 1.80GHz. Added to this the 715 is available with up to 16GB DDR4 and up to 128GB eMMC storage.
Our review model, however, is one of the lower specced offerings and features 4GB DDR4 and 32 eMMC storage. All in all then the 715 is by no means a powerhouse, and is rather designed to take care of the basics.
We used Geekbench to check the performance of the Chromebook 715, on single core it got a score of 2 514, while on the multi-core it scored 4 303. This means that it runs efficiently on all applications and can them quickly and without hassle.
This proved to be the case while we working on the Chromebook 715, as it never showed signs of struggling or performed sluggishly.
Looking at the battery performance, the Chromebook 715’s Type 4 cell Li-ion unit did far better than expected, as I was able to get around 12 hours from a full charge. This gives you a solid work day’s worth of battery life and then some which is important for users who need to work when a plug point isn’t nearby.
In terms of ports the 715 has a USB 3.1 and USB Type-C port on each side of the notebook, as well as MicroSD card reader and 3.5mm headphone jack.
Overall the Acer Chromebook 715 is a solid notebook.
In terms of battery life, it’s better than most thanks to 12 hours of use. Also helping in its case is the simple and refined design, which won’t turn heads, but cannot be described as ugly. As such it will likely fade into the background while working, and ensures distractions are kept to a minimum.
When it comes to the processing power, this notebook can handle the basics very well, with our Geekbench can attesting to that.
In conclusion then, the Acer Chromebook 715 comes highly recommended, and especially for the starting price of R7 999.