Acer Chromebook C720P-2600 (preview)

Acer brings touch functionality to the humble Chromebook

Acer has released a version of its C720 Chromebook that has a touchscreen. The C720P-2600 Chromebook offers 10-point multi-touch screen, and its purpose is to give you a more interactive way of using the Chrome OS-based sub-notebook, if not for current Web-based apps, then for future apps that will designed with touch in mind.

The size of the screen is 11.6 inches, it has a 1366x768-pixel resolution, and, like most touchscreens, it’s glossy and reflective. More than a touchscreen, though, the new Chromebook C720P-2600 has better styling than the non-touchscreen version, the C720. The C720P is available in a chassis that has a white finish that looks good, and it houses a good array of ports along its outskirts. In addition to necessities such as USB 3.0 and a headset port, you also get a full-sized HDMI port and a full-sized SD card slot. Wireless connectivity includes Bluetooth and dual-band, 802.11n Wi-Fi.

In terms of its design, it looks exactly the same as the C720, with the only exception being the touchscreen, and the white finish. We thought the design of the C720 was bland and didn’t stand out from regular notebooks, but the white finish of the C720P goes some way to improving the aesthetics.

It’s a bit heavier than the C720 -- Acer states 1.35kg for the C720P, while the C720 tipped our digital scales at 1.2kg -- and it’s most probably a tiny bit thicker owing to the touch panel. One thing to look out for is the SD card slot. On the C720, this slot doesn’t house cards completely, which means that they stick out half way. While we haven’t got our hands on the C720P yet, we think it will have the same trait.

On the inside, the C720P Chromebook comes with a Celeron 2955U CPU (it’s Haswell-based), 2GB of DDR3 SDRAM, and a 16GB solid state drive (SSD). It’s the same configuration as the C720, and we found that model to be a good performer for tasks ranging from typical office work to streaming video from the Web. We’re not sure if the touchscreen interface will provide much of a hit when using it for navigation.

Of course, this Chromebook isn’t a regular laptop, so you won’t be able to use it like you do a traditional Windows-based laptop as far as installing your favourite programs is concerned; it’s a mostly Web-based experience when you use a Chromebook, and it’s designed for simple operation, and for Cloud-based operation. To this end, the unit ships with 100GB of free Google Drive space that is valid for up to two years after purchase.

The Acer Chromebook C720P is available now and costs $499 in Australia and $599 in New Zealand. You pay a $100 premium for the touch capability, and it’s yet to be seen if there are any benefits to be gained from the touch panel in Chrome OS, especially since it’s fixed in a clam-shell form factor.

Note: this is only a preview and, as such, the product is not rated. We’ll bring you a full review of the C720P as soon as we get it into our test centre.

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Elias Plastiras
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