If you know me at all, you know that I am enamored of all things Google. So, when I received an Acer C720P Chromebook for Christmas, I was overjoyed to say the least. But after I was informed I was now the proud owner of a touchscreen Chromebook, I couldn’t wait to open the box and try out my new gadget. (Imagine a grown woman trying to claw open a Chromebook box with a look of manic technological Christmas-day glee in her eyes….sad, I know.)
I’ve used my Chromebook every day since I first laid eyes on it, putting it through its paces. Below is the breakdown of the pros and cons I’ve discovered about the Acer C720P Chromebook.
1) Lightweight and easily portable. At 0.78 inches thick and around 3 pounds, this Chromebook is easy to tote around. It’s actually lighter than my iPad in its case-and my Chromebook doesn’t need a special case.
2) Good battery life. The specifications state that you can get around 7.5 hours of life out of the battery, which I would say is pretty accurate at this point in my Chromebook’s life.
3) Easy to navigate file system structure. The Chromebook has a 16GB solid state drive to store pictures, documents, etc. The file system structure is very simple, with a Downloads folder and access to your Google Drive.
4) The touchscreen is pretty awesome. There is no lag when tap-tapping away on the screen and navigation using the touchscreen is very seamless experience. While there is a keyboard attached, I have found myself developing a hybrid touch/type way of using the Chromebook that works for me. It doesn’t transfer very well, however, to my other devices that are not touchscreen; much like after using my iPad for a long time, I keep tapping the screen of my definitely non-touchscreen Windows machines at home and at work expecting great touchscreen things to happen. And then become disappointed when they don’t.
5) It’s all Chrome, all the time. You basically live in the Chrome browser, which is very easy to do and grow accustomed to doing. This is fine by me, since Chrome has awesome apps and extensions that can be used to enhance your online experience.
1) Abrupt shut-downs. In the few weeks that I have had my Chromebook, it has abruptly shut down twice and I once saw a pretty groovy black-and-white garbled screen after which I had to restart the machine.
2) No downloading/installing software. This could also be considered a “pro” if you think about the fact that this protects you from viruses; however, it also means you can’t install anything. For me, this means no iTunes and no music while I’m working on this machine, unless I start using Google Play and purchase songs I already have.
3) There’s offline access, but…. There are some apps that work offline, but the Chromebook is limited in what it can do when you don’t have an internet connection. That’s just the nature of the Chromebook beast.
4) Limited screencasting options. I love to screencast, but most of the programs I use are downloaded and installed software. Since the Chromebook isn’t into that whole “downloading” thing, you are limited to using screencasting extensions or using Google Hangouts using the screen sharing option.
Overall, I am very impressed with this device, which is pretty much an iPad that comes with an attached keyboard. In fact, it has pretty much replaced my iPad as the machine with which I travel, and my home Windows machine hasn’t been turned on since I got it. While it does have its disadvantages, I can definitely see why people and schools choose Chromebooks. If you’re heavily into Google like myself and have an weird love of touchscreens such as myself, then this is potentially the device for you.
About the author: Terie Engelbrecht is currently the Director of Teaching & Learning at Byron CUSD #226 in Byron, IL. This is her first administrative position after leaving 16 years of classroom teaching. Terie taught Biology and a smattering of other sciences (Physical, Earth) at Wauconda and Marengo High Schools, both located in northern Illinois. Terie holds a Bachelor’s degree from Blackburn College, and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Aurora University. For the last three years of her teaching experience, Terie taught in a 1:1 classroom, integrating technology into all of her science classes mainly through the use of PBL and inquiry learning. She has also been an instructional technology coach, a department chair, and an adjunct professor for Aurora University.