Heat and Connectivity, Battery Life and Portability
Heat and Connectivity
This Chromebook is thin. It measures an inch at its thickest point, but most of the chassis is much slimmer, measuring about half an inch at the front. This could result in heat build-up, but the Atom processor keeps cool. The bottom of the laptop becomes only slightly warm during normal operation, while the palmrest and keyboard areas were warmed only by my own hands.
Despite this, the fan in the Acer is a whisper. Even when my apartment is “completely” quite, the ambient noise from outside – cars driving, bird singing, even the wind through the trees – easily drowns out the system fan. I was only able to hear the fan by picking up the laptop and placing the fan vent beside my ear. The fan does spin more quickly during periods of high stress, but since this is a product focused on web content, such occasions are likely to be rare.
Connectivity is as thin as the laptop itself. There is one USB port on each side as well as HDMI, headphone/mic jacks and a card reader on the left side – and that’s it. Although sufficient for many tasks, it would have been nice to see at least one more USB port and an alternative video output. As it stands, this laptop doesn’t match what is offered by price competitive Windows netbooks.
Portability and Battery Life
Although the 11.6” display size is larger than your typical netbook, this Acer actually feels more portable because of its extraordinarily slim frame. Placing it inside any backpack or messenger bag large enough to hold it should be no problem.
Official estimates place this laptop’s battery life at six hours. Because our normal test suite won’t work with Google Chrome OS, it’s hard to compare it directly with other laptops. However, in real-world use in my apartment while connected to WiFi the laptop lasted five hours and twelve minutes with the screen brightness set to 50%.
I also put the laptop through an extended YouTube video playback test, as I would a smartphone or tablet. Under this load the laptop lasted four hours and fifty one minutes, which is reasonable. There are many Windows laptops running Atom processors that offer battery life, but they also have larger batteries. Given the trimmed down OS, I was hoping that better endurance would be available, but this Chromebook is competitive.