Acer Chromebook 11 CB3-131-C3SZ Review

As far as Chromebooks go, the Acer Chromebook 11 CB3-131-C3SZ is a cheap, reliable and surprisingly good device to consider buying. This version is the updated 2016 edition of the popular CB3-131 series from Acer. Considering the low price (sub $200 at the time of this review), I want to emphasize this miniature laptop does have certain limitations. I will expand a bit on this later.

Why buy a Chromebook?

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Pictured: The Acer Chromebook 11 CB3-131-C3SZ-1

Well, a Chromebook isn’t like an ordinary laptop. It’s more affordable, more portable and less powerful than your standard laptop device. Considering how traditional notebooks still come with hard disk drives, optical drives, large screens and bulky frames, a Chromebook addresses different needs: it’s stripped of all unnecessary equipment and only keeps what’s needed to meet the criteria I mentioned above.

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You should consider purchasing one if you want to enjoy browsing the internet, editing documents, sending emails and chatting online while being away from home. You won’t be able to play games on it, you can’t install anything other than apps (remember this thing runs Chrome OS) and you’ll likely need a wireless connection to fully enjoy it, although working offline is perfectly acceptable until you find a WiFi hotspot to sync your files online.

The Acer Chromebook 11 CB3-131-C3SZ

The widely acclaimed CB3-131 series is one of the best rated products from Acer’s lineup. And for good reasons. First of all, the build quality is more than decent, considering it’s all made from plastic. The keyboard is a bit bendy when applying pressure, but other than that there are no significant issues. I wouldn’t drop it though.

It’s small enough to carry around wherever you go. Slide it in your bag, purse, backpack and you’re good to go. The screen is just 11.6 inches across, it’s very thin (0.7 inches) and weighs just 2.4 pounds. Travelling with it is easy mainly because you won’t need the charger, since the battery lasts for up to 9-10 hours of moderate use. So that’s a full workday’s worth of battery time crammed in this small, practical device.

It’s also silent thanks to the fanless design. No moving parts means no distracting sounds being made.

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Hardware specs

The Acer Chromebook 11 CB3-131-C3SZ comes with a dual core Intel Celeron N2840 processor. Admittedly, the processor itself is a bit slow, but you have to take that into account when deciding what you’ll end up doing with the Chromebook. If you stick to editing documents, browsing the internet, writing emails and other day-to-day tasks, you won’t notice any latency whatsoever.

It has 2 gigabytes of system memory, enough to run apps from the Play Store smoothly and comes with 16 gigabytes of storage space on a solid state drive (SSD). The SSD is crucial to keep the weight down, to make the software more snappy and to extend the battery life.

If you’re worried about the lack of space, don’t be. Google offers 100 GB of free online storage via Google Drive to all Chromebook owners. So that’s 116 gigabytes of storage space right there. However, you have to be online to access all of it, which may prove to be inconvenient for some people in remote areas. But if you’re not living in rural Arizona, I think you’re good.

The 11.6 inches screen has a IPS LED-backlit HD display, meaning it will output a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels, more than enough for such a small screen. The text and icons are easily readable. Also, Chrome OS was designed with the Chromebook in mind, so you won’t have that cramped, claustrophobic feel you sometimes get from Windows running on small screens.

Extras

As you’d expect, this Chromebook has great wireless connectivity built in: it’s powered by a 802.11ac WiFi card with MIMO technology. This means you’ll get great signal strength and faster Internet access in busy places with shared wireless, like cafes or airports.

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Pictured: The Acer’s white lid

The Acer 11 CB3-131-C3SZ has one USB 3.0 port, one USB 2.0 port, SD card reader and HDMI-out with HDCP support. I’d argue that it would have been great to have an extra USB port, but everyday tasks are manageable with just two as well. It also has an HD web camera. It won’t produce crisp images, but it’s there should you need to make a video call on Skype.

One great thing about Chromebooks and Chrome OS is the automatic synchronizing of files. If you don’t have Internet access for some time, but still need to work on your files, you can do so while being offline. As soon as your device will be connected to the Internet it will start uploading said files to the cloud so you won’t lose your progress and have them safely saved.

Conclusion

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The Acer Chromebook 11 CB3-131-C3SZ is a great, inexpensive device. Lightweight, thin and with a battery time just south of 10 hours, this Chromebook has the portability of an ultrabook, but not the performance. You will rely on the Internet to save almost everything you do. If you need a notebook for everyday tasks though, an ultrabook is overkill. This Acer is the right choice for city people on the go!

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Acer Chromebook 11 CB3-131-C3SZ
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