Friday, June 12, 2015

Acer C910 Chromebook Review

I was able to receive a review unit of the Acer C910 Chromebook (C910-C453 model) that I have been trying out for awhile now. This is one of the first 15.6" Chromebooks designed for education.


There are different configurations for the Acer C910, but my review unit (C910-C453) has the following:

-  Intel 3205U Celeron processor (Broadwell)
-  An 15.6" anti-glare TN Panel with a 1366x768 resolution
-  4GB of RAM
-  16GB SSD
-  1x HDMI, 1x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0, SD card reader
-  720p HD Camera with Integrated Microphone
-  Dual-channel High-Definition integrated audio
-  Wireless 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.0
-  Height: 0.97" x Width: 15.08" x Depth: 9.65" and weighs 4.8lbs
-  4-cell Battery (3720 mAh) for 10 hours of use

Overall Build Quality:

The Acer C910 has a diamond style texture on the outer casing of the device.  It gives a nice look to the Chromebook, but I noticed it to still show some smears and could possibly collect dirt within the texture.  The plastic casing around the keyboard area of the Acer C910 is more of a smooth black plastic.  I noticed on the review unit I received before using it that the smooth finish seemed to wear down where your palms would rest on the device.  I also noticed this on the trackpad and some of the keys on the keyboard.

Since the C910 is the education model of Acer's 15.6" line of Chromebooks, it does have some rugged features to it.  Those rugged features are the same ones seen on the Acer C740 and are not to the MIL-STD.  Like the Acer C740, it has reinforced corners that can withstand a 35cm (13in) drop.  It has an increased cover thickness that is to withstand 60kg (132lbs) of force.  It also has additional rib panels and longer hinge brackets.  The plastic casing could still possibly become chipped or cracked in the event of a drop.

There are dual speakers on the left and right side of the keyboard that are decent for the price point.  The hinges only go back 135 degrees, which could still allow damage to occur to them if the lid is pushed too far back.  The keyboard and trackpad are also not spill resistant.

The other thing to point out about the build of the Acer C910 is that it is noticeably heavier and bulkier then other Chromebooks.  Some of that is expected though due to the 15.6" screen size.  The Acer C910 is heavy, but it is still similar in weight to Windows laptops of this size. 


The Acer C910 is another one the the first Chromebooks to use the Intel 3205U Celeron processor.  This is the same processor found in the Acer C740.  It is part of the Broadwell line of Intel processors and is faster then the Bay Trail and Rockchip processors seen in a number of current generation Chromebooks.  When I ran the Octane benchmark, the Acer C910 Chromebook with 4GB of RAM scored a 14131.  You will have no problems with this processor in the classroom.  The only downfall to it is that it does not use a fanless design like a Bay Trail or any Chrome devices with ARM processors.


The screen in the configuration I am reviewing is a 15.6" matte TN panel with a 1366x768 resolution.  Personally, I prefer a higher resolution screen in Chromebooks that have screen sizes of 13" or more as text can sometimes have a fuzzy look to it with the lower resolution.  This screen could be acceptable for student use, but I would still recommend going with the model with a higher resolution (1920x1080) if possible.  The 1366x768 resolution is not as forgiving when compared to other Chromebook screen sizes that use this resolution.


The Acer C910 does not have a water resistant keyboard or trackpad to help against spills like some of the other rugged Chromebook devices.  Typing on the keyboard felt good and I had no issues using it.  When using the trackpad, it was spacious, smooth and responded well.

Power Adapter:

The power adapter for the Acer CC910 is your typical brick design. It uses a thinner connector that could possibly bend or break easier under student use.

Battery Life:

The Acer C910 has a 4-cell Battery (3720 mAh) that is supposed to give 10 hours of use.  In my Nyan Cat test to gauge the battery under a heavier use situation, I found the Acer C910 to get 9 hours and 33 minutes on a full charge with the screen at a 75% brightness.  From this test, and my own usage experience, I think you should get around the claimed battery life with standard classroom use and the screen being dimmed.


So is the Acer C910 Chromebook a good choice for schools?  If you need a Chromebook with a screen bigger then 13.3" to 14", then the Acer C910 is really the only option available right now for education.  It is not a bad device, but I think a number of people may not like the heavy and bulky size of it for just an additional 1.6" to 2.3" of screen space.  The pricing of the Acer C910 configurations also places it in a situation where a Chromebox could be more cost effective if you just want bigger screens for students to view and it does not need to be mobile.  If you are interested in the Acer C910, I would recommend considering the C910-C37P model for the higher resolution if your budgets allow for it.

The Acer C910 is available in various configurations.  The configuration I reviewed is available for $299.99.  Discounted pricing is available on bulk purchases.