Acer R13 Chromebook

I bought an Acer R13 as I wanted to try out a computer running Chromebook and I thought it would be a good lightweight alternative to lugging my work PC around the house. I like it but I don’t love it. It cost $330 at Wal Mart.

The laptop is 13″ and has a flip design, which means you can rotate the display until it’s flat against the back of the keyboard and use it like a tablet. I don’t like tablets or touch screens, so I don’t know why I thought this would be a good feature. In any event the flip works, for what that’s worth.

The screen is better than my laptop screen. It’s an IPS (which means you don’t have to tilt it to get a good view) and has resolution up to 1900×1080 although it defaults to a lower resolution so text isn’t too small to see. You adjust the resolution in settings. Photos look good, screen brightness is fine although not amazing, videos look OK.

The CPU is an ARM processor (aka smartphone processor) called MediaTek MT8173C. Since it’s an ARM the battery life is better than an Intel processor. It supposedly gets up to 12 hours. I’ve used it for 8+ hours before recharging. The battery definitely lasts a long time.

Storage is 64gb of SSD and ram is 4GB, so it has enough space to load a variety of apps from the Play store.

Chromebook won’t run all Android apps, but most of my smartphone apps run well on it. The OS pretends that certain websites are apps and there are clickable icons for mail, maps, etc. that open tabs on the Chrome interface. The Android app icons open the app, not a website.

I connected it to my 27″ monitor and it ran OK on dual screen mode. Not as fast as my 3-year old work laptop.

Pros:

Lightweight (about 3lbs), decent screen, ample ports (micro sd, usb-c charger, usb3, hdmi), long battery life, decent speed, log-in via smartphone, bluetooth and wifi connections work fine, can use it to text message, can run some (maybe most) Android apps, if you don’t load problematic apps it should be more secure than a Windows PC.

Cons:

Trackpad works but it’s flaky (sometimes a tap doesn’t register. there are no mouse buttons, if you are going to click the trackpad it requires some effort), can’t run the full version of Office (there is a mobile version that’s free, but it is missing features and I can’t use it for work), speakers are fine for voice audio but terrible for music.

I would rate the device as “usable”. If I listen to music or videos via my earphones it sounds fine. The screen looks nicer than my work laptop and it’s smaller and light enough to tote anywhere in the house. The long battery life means I don’t have to plug it in to use it for hours.

It’s just a little underwhelming.


Update:

I recently learned that Google will stop releasing feature and security updates to Chromebooks after a certain number of years. It was originally 4 to 5 years, but I think it recently extended to 6 years.

This is truly hard to believe. My Chromebook was manufactured this year. But since it was originally released in September 2016 it will stop receiving updates in September 2021, two years from now.

Acer still has this laptop for sale on its website, with no warning about the two year cut off. In fact, they don’t post the release date on the website. I found the cut off date on a Google database of future “end of life” dates.

It’s possible that this Chromebook will not actually cut off in 2 years. I won’t know until it happens. Also, simply being cut off from new updates won’t make the Chromebook inoperative.

But if there are security concerns my Chromebook will be vulnerable. If new website technologies are implemented my Chromebook won’t be able to use them.

This seems bizarre. The manufacture date on my Chromebook is 3/23/19 only 2.5 years prior to its end of life.

If I had known that I would not have bought it. This information was not present on any retailer’s ads for Chromebooks. I just stumbled on it while browsing the web. Buyer beware I guess. We’ll see what happens in 2 years.

 

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