I was lucky enough to get a Samsung XE303C12 Chromebook to test a couple of months ago, and I have now had a chance to test Samsung’s competitor in the budget Chromebook marketplace, the Acer C7. While a lot of the last review focused on the Chrome OS, this time I will compare the two units to hopefully give anyone considering a purchase in this market a helping hand.
Price & Where From
The Acer C7 is available from the Google Play Store for £199
In The Box
As I have an oldish review unit, the box contents will probably vary from that of a reatil unit. My box came with the C7 Chromebook, a charging cable with transformer and a US/UK adapter plug.
Google Chrome OS – self updating so always latest version
1.3MP centre mounted webcam
Dual-core Intel® Celeron® Processor
Other Hardware Info
- 2G DDR3 Memory
- 320G hard disk drive
- Stereo internal speakers
- HDMI & VGA video output
- 3xUSB 2
- 2 in 1 card slot
- Mic input
- Headphone output
- Large hard disk drive
- Intel CPU
- Poor audio
- Average battery life
You would expect two budget Chromebooks priced within £25 of each other to be pretty much identical in specifications, but due to the choice of CPU and one or two other little changes these devices feel very different.
Both devices look fairly similar but rather than colour the plastic casing silver in attempt to give it a metallic feel, Acer have simply opted for a dark grey look. For me the later is the better, if the case is plastic, it’s plastic, no need to pretend it’s anything else. The keyboards also differ on the two devices with Acer taking a more traditional approach. I don’t see the reduced and altered keyboard of the Samsung as a disadvantage though as the Chrome OS short cuts and UX is very easy to pick up. I can understand if users find the Acer more welcoming though. The Acer does have it’s little quirks, most noticeably the enter key, visually it looks as though it is a reversed L shape, but the top part is actually the ‘\’ button and it easy to hit the wrong part when typing.
In my Samsung review I criticised the screen pointing out how poor the quality was, the Acer has no such issues. It’s not the sharpest, most colour vibrant screen, but we are in the budget end of the market. Even though they both have the same size and resolution of screen it is the first thing you notice when you compare both machines, the difference is that stark.
The chosen storage on both devices is another area where they differ, Samsung elected for a small but speedy SSD drive while Asus have again trod a more traditional route by using a reasonably sized HDD. One or other of these options may suit your specific needs better, but for most I would guess the 320G hard disk would be the preferred choice. Both offer multi-card readers for easy additional storage and copying of files.
Sound output, another area I praised the Samsung for. Sadly the C7 comes nowhere near in this field. The volume from the Acer is small at best. With regards to quality of output there is nothing wrong, but it is also nothing special.
Now to the heart of each machine. The other major change from the Samsung is the CPU. The C7 rocks an Intel Celeron 847 dual core 1.1GHZ processor, not the most meaty Intel offering but arguably more powerful than the Exynos ARM CPU in the S3. For most day to day tasks you won’t notice a difference, but with a lot of tabs open and during HQ video playback the Acer pulls ahead.
The hard drive and Celeron CPU come at a price though, battery life is only around the four hour mark, which due to the portability of these devices could be a big factor for you.
I have to be honest and say picking which Chromebook I would buy has taken me a while, the additional volume and boot speed of the Samsung really appealed to me, but in the end I think the better screen and more powerful CPU would sway me towards the Acer.
If you are considering buying a budget Chromebook and still can’t make up your mind, there may be one other point that sways you. the Samsung has a SIM card slot making it 3G enabled, the Acer does not.