The Acer C7 Chromebook is one thing: cheap. The price tag is low, but so is the quality of the components, the way they are put together, and the user experience overall.

If the price tag is more important to you than things like speed, battery life, and durability, maybe the Acer C7 is for you. If you think a Chromebook ought to be quick, with great battery life — and affordable — then look elsewhere.

What I like about the Acer C7 Chromebook

At $199, the C7 Chromebook is pretty close to an impulse purchase. And the price is the main selling point. It also comes with 12 free sessions of GoGo Inflight Internet, the service used by most airlines. That’s a nice perk, since GoGo is usually $14 per day, which is more than I have ever wanted to spend to look at cat pictures during a 3-hour flight. You also get a boost to your Google Drive storage, to 100 GB, for 2 years. Together, these perks add up to more than the price of the C7.

Aside from the price and perks, the C7’s display is pretty nice. 1366×768 is a pretty standard resolution — for 13″ laptops. It makes for pretty good pixel density on an 11.6″ screen.

What I don’t like about the Acer C7 Chromebook

Unfortunately, the price tag, perks, and screen are the sum total of the C7’s positive attributes.

The C7 is not just inexpensive, it is cheap. Everything about it feels cheap. The plastic feels flimsy, and it is not put together very well. My review unit was actually falling apart when I got it. The screen bezel had pulled away from the top of the lid before it arrived, and I could not snap it all the way back into place.

The keyboard is similar to, and just as bad as, the keyboard on the Toshiba Portege Z830 I reviewed, but smaller and harder to type on. The trackpad is too small, although it does a pretty decent job of clicking as expected, which is more than I can say for most of the Windows trackpads I have tried, at least.

With even light use (i.e., typing this review in Evernote’s web app while sitting on the couch), the C7 gets warm, and then the fan clicks on and makes intrusive whirring and buzzing noises to cool everything down again.

Battery life isn’t great, either. You’ll get a bit over 4 hours, but that’s pretty weak for a device that only has to run a browser and nothing else. It’s a long way from the 8+ hours I got from the last-generation Samsung Chromebook.

It is not even very fast, because it has a regular hard drive instead of a solid-state drive. That means you have plenty of space, but you don’t really need space with a browser-based operating system. What you need is decent speed and battery life, two things the Acer C7 Chromebook is conspicuously lacking.

Who should buy the Acer C7 Chromebook?

On the one hand, the Acer C7 Chromebook is pretty weak. It’s not built well, it’s not quick, and it’s not very good to type on. On the other hand, it’s cheap, and it includes perks you will probably use that add up to quite a bit more than the purchase price.

So if you are looking for a thin and light laptop to do very basic tasks on a limited basis, and you don’t care if it falls apart within a year, you might consider the Acer C7. I would consider spending a little more on the better-quality Samsung Chromebook, though. Or just get a tablet. You could get a Nexus 7 for as little as $199, or an iPad Mini for $329. Android and iOS aren’t much more limited than Chrome OS, and you will get excellent build quality and battery life, too.

Even though the numbers make the Acer C7 Chromebook look like a good deal, it isn’t. It’s just cheap.


Acer C7 Chromebook

Reviewed by Sam Glover on .

Summary: The Acer C7 Chromebook is one thing: cheap.

Overall score: 1 (out of 5)

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