If you believe “bigger is better,” allow me to introduce the Acer Chromebook 15. For $399 (£249), and currently on sale at Best Buy for $349, the laptop packs a 15.6-inch touchscreen, making it one of the biggest Chromebook models you can buy.
Aside from its super-sized screen, it has great battery life, loud speakers, a backlit keyboard and solid performance. One or two of these features on a budget laptop is good, but all of them combined makes for an excellent value.
The large Acer laptop is a solid alternative to the bevy of 13-inch and smaller Chromebook models out there. Since it’s not that much more expensive than compact Chromebooks, anyone interested in an affordable laptop with a big screen shouldn’t hesitate to check it out.
A metal makeover
Unlike last year’s all-plastic model, this new CB515-1HT version in the has an aluminum and plastic build, featuring an on-trend metal lid and cool chamfered edges. Combined with its slim dimensions and silver MacBook-like bezels, the Acer resembles a more expensive laptop.
Weighing 4.85 pounds (2.1kg), it’s not extremely heavy to carry around, despite its large dimensions. Size-wise, it’s more comparable to the 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro ($1,000 at Amazon) or the Microsoft Surface Book 2 ($1,693 at Walmart) than it is to other Chromebooks.
The full-size, all-black keyboard is flanked by two speakers. It’s backlit (a treat for a budget laptop), and the keys travel and respond well. I didn’t find them stiff to type on, though they’re not as comfortable and fluid as a Lenovo ThinkPad laptop’s keyboard. If a superior typing experience is required, I’d recommend taking a look at the Lenovo ThinkPad 13 instead.
Chrome OS, now with apps
This budget-friendly notebook runs Chrome OS, of course. It’s built for checking Gmail, working on Google Docs or browsing the web using Chrome. It also has the Google Play store, which allows the downloading of apps previously limited to Android devices.
The Google Play Store gives the laptop a bit more utility. Instead of just using it for browsing the web, checking email and streaming video, you can additionally post to Instagram, download video for offline watching using the Netflix app, or download games to play when there isn’t a Wi-Fi network available.