Acer's $US199 Chromebook 15: Inexpensive but bulky

The Chromebook 15 CB3-531 is designed to be a desktop replacement

Acer Chromebook CB3-531 15-inch

Acer Chromebook CB3-531 15-inch

Most appealing about Acer's new Chromebook 15 CB3-531 are its $US199 price and large 15.6-inch screen. But the laptop is bulky and it puts into question whether Chromebooks can be full-blown desktop replacements.

Most Chromebooks today come with smaller screens, so the laptop's large screen was a welcome sight. During a short hands on test at an Acer event, it was a pleasure to watch a Youtube video on the laptop without straining my eyes, as is the case with one 11.6-inch Chromebook I regularly use.

The Chromebook CB3-531 is Acer's latest addition to a growing line of Chrome OS laptops. It already sells 15.6-inch models priced starting at $US249, but has scaled down some features -- primarily the CPU -- for the new $US199 model.

Besides low prices, Chromebooks have attracted buyers for their portability. The new Chromebook 15 is more a desktop replacement, and is heavy to carry around. Acer says the laptop weighs about two kilograms.

The Chrome browser, apps and Web services loaded quickly, though there was a slight stutter on the Youtube video. The Intel Celeron N2830 dual-core processor, which has been shipping for more than a year, provided adequate performance.

Chromebooks are designed for those who do most of their computing on the Web, and most applications require an Internet connection. An important measure for performance in Chromebooks is the wireless network performance, and the laptop's 802.11ac wireless connection seemed stable and smooth.

Acer claims the laptop's battery lasts up to 11.5 hours, but that may not be the case when the screen is on medium brightness. A battery monitor showed about nine hours of laptop run-time remaining with 95 percent of the battery left. But nine to 10 hours of battery life is still pretty good.

The keyboard felt cramped to type on, and Acer could have done a better job placing the keys over a wider area. Some Windows laptops have a keypad to fill up the space, but Acer opted to put speakers on each side. On low volume, I could hear sounds from the Youtube video, but I couldn't test the speakers at high volume in the crowded and noisy room.

The laptop has 16GB of storage and 2GB of RAM. A full-size HDMI port, micro-SD slot and USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 port are located on the sides.

The scope of my test was limited to a few apps and web services. The lack of local applications raised questions on whether large-screen Chromebooks can desktop replacements, an area dominated by Windows laptops. For me, Windows PCs typically provide more storage and are better as stationary computers running local applications, while Chromebooks shine as lightweight and portable computers with access to web services.

Acer begged to differ. Chromebooks have done well in schools, and a teacher may prefer a larger-screen laptop in classrooms, said Gregg Prendergast, vice president of commercial sales for the U.S. market at Acer. Users invested in Chrome OS may also want a larger-screen Chromebook to complement other computers, he said.

His points were well taken. At $US199, the Chromebook 15 CB3-531 could be an impulse buy.

The laptop will start shipping in the US in July, and EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) starting in June.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags acerhardware systems

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

PC World Evaluation Team Review - MSI GT75 TITAN

"I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it."

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?