Review: Acer Chromebook 15 CB515-1HT-P39B

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Four years ago, I tried to live my entire work life on a Chromebook, and it was a disaster. I couldn’t open Word documents, make Skype calls, message colleagues, or pull off a host of other daily tasks without jumping through hoops and pulling off miracles. This week, I hardly noticed that I hadn’t turned my MacBook Pro on in days while relying on a Chromebook. Times certainly have changed.

Chromebooks are unambitious computers, and that’s what makes them genius. Using a laptop that’s just a browser sounds strange, but seeing how most of us spend the vast majority of our PC time in web browsers it’s totally doable. And in the last few years, Google has figured out how to make non-browser tasks lot more manageable on Chrome.

I really wanted to enjoy my time with Acer’s latest Chromebook 15 but our relationship became strained. Things were a little laggy at first, but we had a thing going for a while. Then, it suddenly shut down on me, twice. We’ve had trust issues ever since.

A Very Big Book

For a lot of people, Acer’s Chromebook 15 will seem ludicrously large. To me, the Chromebook 15 feels like coming home. After years on cramped 11- to 13-inch screens, the Chromebook’s wide frame and spacious 1,920 x 1,080-pixel 15.6-inch touch-sensitive display reminds me of my giant old Sony VAIO laptop. It’s wide enough to place two full-size browser windows side by side—a big productivity boon, and watching media is just more fun. And while it’s not the best touchscreen I’ve ever used, it’s just so pleasant to exit an app with my finger.

Acer has tried to class up the Chromebook 15 with aluminum on the palm rest and top outer shell. Just don’t expect MacBook-level elegance. The specs may say it’s covered in aluminum, but much of the laptop is actually plastic. The half-aluminum/half-plastic look is kind of like wearing a tie with a t-shirt—it doesn’t fool anyone.

Acer Chromebook 15 (2017)

5/10

Wired

Biggest Chromebook yet with a sharp 15.6-inch HD screen. Chrome OS has gotten a lot more useful in the last few years. The keyboard is comfy and there are plenty of ports. Battery life can reach 10 hours. It has a touchscreen!

Tired

Half-aluminum body doesn’t feel as nice as you’d think. Pentium processor is underpowered. Android apps are fun, but still limited and buggy. The touchpad rattles and has a stiff click. It completely crashed twice without warning.