The Acer Chromebook R11 is Acers’ inaugural convertible Chromebook, and it makes a decent first impression with its dressy build and an enduring battery to go with the competitive prices on offer.
Acer tests the waters with this device, so it does not quite make a huge splash, but from the look and feel of things, Acer is on to something with this Chromebook, the promise is there to see, and the premise is clear too.
With some little tweaks to the display and touchscreen of future releases, as well as the adoption of better graphic processors to boot, the potential of getting an all-rounder Chromebook will be a not-too-distant possibility.
But if you are on a tight budget, and need a device for casual use or for executing everyday productivity tasks, then the R11 will come in handy.
Design and Appearance
The chassis of the Chromebook R11 is marked by a plastic core and a white-colored aluminum finish, textured to an attractive veneer by employing Acer’s nano-imprint technology.
Aside from being an accessory to aesthetics, this patterned finish on the lid also serves to enhance grip, and with a weight of 2.76 pounds being the catch, this Chromebook can easily pass for a good grab.
The all-white exterior streak is only punctuated by the colored chrome logo and the silvery-gray Acer logo, and on opening the lid, you are met with a keyboard accented in black in contrast to the all-white surround.
As this Chromebook is a convertible, the hinges get all the plaudits for combining flexibility with a robustness that serves it ever so well while flipping the lid through a 360-degree arc.
The Chromebook R11 can be used in a variety of viewing options, it goes from traditional notebook to display mode by flipping the keyboard face down with the screen facing outward. It then transforms to tent mode by standing upright on its edges and can invert full circle to become a tablet, with the keyboard flattened out behind the display.
Ports and Connection
The Port ensemble is pretty decent, to the left; a Power jack, a USB 3.0 port, and an SD card slot can be spotted, and to the right, a USB 2.0 port, headphone jack, and a Kensington lock slot make the roster.
For wireless connectivity, 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MIMO support serves to facilitate seamless and snappy Internet access, while Bluetooth 4.0 is on hand to deliver speedy transfers.
Keyboard and Input devices
The Chromebook R11 gets a full-sized chiclet-style keyboard, the keys are well-spaced and are actuated with a moderate press against a slight resistance that bears down on their 1.7mm travel distance.
While the keyboard does not feature a backlight provision or a Numberpad, it still looks and feels much like a decent typing grab once you get the grasp of it.
The touchpad area comes with a modest footprint and is sited at the center of the deck, there is ample elbow room for the touchpad and the wrist rest on either side of it to make for a comfortable typing experience.
Also, the touchpad sports a smooth and sensitive surface, with precise cursor control over scrolls and swipes, although the clicks come with a louder than normal feedback. The touchscreen will need a facelift though, it is not sensitive enough for a satisfactory tablet experience.
It is easy to dismiss the audio quality of this device beforehand as the speakers’ vents are sited under the keyboard deck, and for a convertible, it is a position of disadvantage, a handicap of sorts.
In an attempt to give the speakers a fighting chance, Acer turns up the volume of this Chromebook, up to the point that it starts to go out of range.
If you look very closely or listen intently, you might figure out a whiff of bass, and it grows in stature as the volume increases, the vocals become more vivid, the highs, lows, and everything in between starts to surface.
In essence, audio is a mixed bag with this device, you get audio in all its glory and nuances, only if you trump up the volume, even to discomfort levels.
The display of the Chromebook R11 is average at best, the colors are a bit skimpy, the contrast is modest, and with a 1366 x 768 resolution, there is only so much that you can get. The quality of the display is slightly helped by a brightness of 224 nits, and the IPS panel makes for better viewing angles.
Then there is a 1,280-by-720p camera at the front, useful for all your conference calls and zoom meetings, the display might look a tad too grainy for its resolution, and you’ll have to look dead center at the screen to make heads or tails of what is in front.
The Acer Chromebook R11 integrates an Intel HD Graphics mobile card (Braswell) to its processor, this graphics card is on the low-end spectrum, but it finds a good match in the 1366x768p resolution and a native RAM of 4GB.
On this device, the GPU is wired to run a good number of optimized graphic-demanding android apps like photoshop apps from the Google Playstore. For most image processing works, they can take on routine edit, align, and cut tasks, but there is barely enough juice to take on more advanced graphic work.
This GPU is mostly incapable of any task that involves 3D modeling, and its capacity to render images in real-time with a splash of colors is dampened by its below-par coverage of the RGB color gamut, and the low refresh rates of the display. So while Adobe Photoshop is a big ask for your Chrome OS, you can always find value in other apps like Photoshop Express or take things a notch higher with Photoshop Sketch.
It is a well-known fact that Chromebooks are not suited to playing PC games, more so this Chromebook, with its grossly underpowered graphic processor.
This is where the Google play store comes in, with a vast offering of android games from an ensemble that features all the action, adventure, and adrenaline racing that is native to Android mobile devices, now optimized with an emulator to run on the typical Chromebooks.
And with a good internet connection, you can always expand your gaming horizons by playing browser-based games like Webquake or the popular fallen London.
Acer touts a battery life of 10 hours on this Chromebook, and it reaches the mark in real-life usage, so you get a battery that can power a full days’ worth of productivity and even entertainment, on the desk or on the go.
As far as Chromebooks go, the R11 fares pretty well in the battery life department.
Cooling and Noise Emission
The Acer Chromebook R11 utilizes the passive cooling system that is incorporated into the Intel Celeron N3150 processor.
This Chromebook will mostly remain cool and quiet during regular system tasks like Video playback and casual web browsing. With more intensive exertions like working on large spreadsheets, or with Image editing apps, the device develops cold feet and warms up a little, but not warm enough to be a cause for concern.
The R11 gets all the perks that come with running on the Chrome OS, the automatic updates, virus protection, speedy booting, and a host of other extras that drives this Chromebook to the peak of its powers.
And with the low-end Intel Celeron N3150 on processor duties, this Chromebook will need all the power that it can summon.
With a base processor speed of 1.6GHz, there is just about enough gas in the tank to take on everyday tasks such as Internet browsing or office applications.
More demanding software and heavy web pages will put a strain on this device, with a smattering of input lags at best and downtime at worst. Multitasking is limited to a few apps running in the background, and a sprinkling of open tabs on chrome.
But if you want to be conservative, or typical with this Chromebook, there is a stack of compatible apps and games on the Google Playstore to choose from.
The R11 is Acers’ debut into the world of convertible Chromebooks, so we can cut it some slack for some of its shortcomings, chief among which are the subpar display, sketchy graphics, and a touchscreen in dire need of a touch-up, you may want to read our Acer Chromebook Spin 13 review .
And there are a string of high points to balance things out, the battery being one, along with striking build quality, and a robust performance to boot.
The tiebreaker is the competitive price that they go for.
Intel Celeron N3150 Quad-Core – 1.6GHz
Intel HD Graphics
11.6” HD (1366×768), IPS panel