What this Review Is And Is Not
I thought I’d do a review of the Acer R11 Chromebook focusing on how it fits within my daily workflow. This review will not address the technical specifics of the Chromebook, but more day to day usability. If you are interested in specifications, octane speeds, etc., there are great reviews such as:
Instead of the technical merits, I will focus on my experience with the Acer R11 (4Gig 16meg SD model). I plan on updating this review as I used the machine especially once the Google Play Store is available bring all the Android apps.
My Case Use
I am a pastor so my work varies and includes quite a bit of writing as I prepare sermons, lessons and newsletters, along with talking with people, facilitating training events, leading meetings, creating strategic leadership and organizational plans, and various other activities. Currently I am working on a second book which I plan to self-publish through Amazon’s Createspace service.
I use Logos Bible Software and have invested thousands of dollars in resources. I do most of my writing in Scrivener, edit videos in Sony Vegas, work with powerpoint, create graphics, do extensive research online and through my Logos Bible software.
I have an office at the church, but not one at home, so I spend quite a bit of time sitting in a chair with my laptop. I use my laptop, a DELL Inspiron 2-in-1, extensively and can work from anyplace where there is a wifi connection and unsweetened tea. Since I don’t drink coffee, I find myself at various fast food places that offer free refills on tea. Anyplace I have my computer, I am able to have an office. I carry the laptop with me just about everywhere.
I have used a Chromebook before, so I know some of the challenges of web-based computing. My first Chromebook was a Toshiba 13.3” Chromebook first generation and loved the form factor and weight. I gave the Toshiba to my wife a few months back, planning to upgrade it to a newer 2015 Toshiba. For a variety of reasons, I’ve decided against the Toshiba and have ordered the Acer R11 instead.
Why the Acer R11 2-in-1 Chromebook
There are four reasons why I decided to purchase a R11 and not the Toshiba or some other laptop. Price, always a factor, was only one of the reasons.
Reason 1 – Google Play Store: Coupling the Play Store with Chrome OS, will be a game changer. I played around with some Android Apps on my Toshiba and look forward to the full Play Store being a reality. Seems like the R11 should have the Play Store sometime in June.
I hope the Play Store does come in June, but I’m not convinced this is the case. The list from Google has the Acer R11 C738T, while others like this list from OmgChrome doesn’t list the model number. I’m not sure if only certain (business) models are going to get the play store, or if all the R11s will. I’ll update this post regardless.
NOTE: I see that this model has a firmware issue and Google has stopped the automatic updates. Hopefully that doesn’t delay getting the Play Store.
Reason 2 – Tablet Mode: My Dell Inspiron is a 2-in-1 and while I don’t use the tablet mode often, I have used it from time to time. The Dell is a bit too heavy and bulky to use in that mode very much, at least for me. I was hoping the smaller form factor, plus keyboard, would be a killer combination.
Reason 3 – 4 Gig of ram: My Toshiba had 2 gigs of ram. I usually have quite a few tabs opened and extensions (I keep trying to pair down my extensions, but then find a few more). I figured the extra 2 gigs of ram would be a welcomed addition.
Reason 4 – Touch screen: Perhaps saying I wanted a touchscreen is redundant given table mode requires a touchscreen. Nevertheless, I wanted a touchscreen for no other reason than sitting on the couch and scrolling through articles rather than using the arrow key. I don’t know why, I just like scrolling that way.
Potential Workflow Issues
Since I am spending more time writing, I’ve moved form Microsoft Word to a tool called Scrivener, which does not an Android app. My preference would be to have my documents on the web, like Google Docs, so I can work on them from whatever computer I happen to be using, even if that “computer” happens to be a tablet with a bluetooth keyboard.
Since Scrivener doesn’t have that type of functionality, I’m going to be limited. I do have a work around called Chrome Remote Desktop, which allows me to connect to one of my Windows computer. So, even though I love Chromebooks, I still need to have some kind of Windows machine around for those applications that require Windows. That list of Windows only software continues to grow shorter and shorter. Since I usually leave my computers running, at any point I can use Chrome Remote Desktop to remote in and use whatever Windows only based software I might need.
I can also remote in to use my Bible Software as well, although Logos has created a web app and continues to add functionality and I’m finding I don’t need the full desktop features all of the time.
Getting The Acer
I had to order from Best Buy, because, from what I could find, Amazon only sells the 2 Gig version. Best Buy carries the 4 Gig version. Whatever. I understand why companies do this, but it makes it hard for the consumer.
When I left the house to head into town I saw the UPS guy pulling into my neighborhood. We have about 80 or so homes in my neighborhood, but I thought, “Hope he is bringing the book I ordered from Amazon.” When I arrived home, I saw a fairly long box sitting on my front porch. Much to my surprise, it was from Best Buy. I had only ordered the computer the morning before and Best Buy said it wouldn’t be delivered until Monday. Happy surprise!
I was surprised when I started using the computer. The keyboard isn’t as cramped as I thought it would be and doesn’t seem as small as I thought it would be. I’m using to using a 13” screen and assumed the 11.6” would seem too small, but so far, that isn’t the case.
I like being able to flip the screen over and use it as a tablet as well. I can’t wait to use it in a fast food joint.
A few seconds after plugging it in, it was booted and ready to go which is greatly appreciated after waiting for my Windows 10 machines to come back from hibernation mode. I checked and Chrome was at version 46 and started updating in the background. I think it only took 5 minutes or less to update. By the time I checked, the update was 76% finished. Of course, rebooting to install the update didn’t take much time at all.
I’ve been using the Acer all weekend and love it. It is about a pound or so lighter than my Dell making it quite nice to use on my lap, or in tablet mode, plus, the Acer runs much cooler too. I’ve included a few videos with my initial unboxing, etc. Not the best quality, but I wanted the videos to show how quick Chromebooks can be setup. As for my work flow, I have no issues with Remoting into one of my Windows machines for the times I need to access my Bible Study Software, Scrivener, or when I do video editing. Getting a laptop and tablet for less than $300, that boots in under 10 seconds, stays updated, and runs for 8 – 10 hours, is awesome. As long as you understand the limits and possibilities of Chromebooks, you can’t go wrong. I will update this review once the Android Apps are available.
If you have any questions, leave a comment and I will try my best to answer them.
Here are a few videos that are pretty rough because I used my phone. They are short, and give you an idea of how quick the Chromebook is to setup and get going. If you want me to record something else, ask and I’ll see what I can do.
Video 2: Booting up. Cut the video because I kept tying in the password wrong.
Video 3: Continuing after I typed the password correctly.
Video 4: Tablet mode.