ACER CHROMEBOOK R11 (£229)
Screen-flipping antics used to cost a pretty penny, but Acer has managed to fit a rotating hinge to the Chromebook R11 and somehow keep the price below £250.
Don’t think you’re getting a cheap-feeling case, either: the R11 feels remarkably rugged, with no flex or bend - apart from that flexible touchscreen, naturally. The hinges feel exceptionally well made, holding the screen firmly at practically any position. At 1.2kg, it’s light enough to hold in tablet mode without instant wrist ache.
Open the R11 up past 180° and the keyboard switches off, with Chrome OS expanding your apps to fill the whole screen so they’re easier to use with touch.
The R11 handles the conversion well, with smooth on-screen animations, and with the Google Play store on-board, you can use any Android app as it was intended. Apps run great, as you’d expect given that the R11 has a more powerful CPU than most phones.
The dual-core Intel Celeron N3050 is starting to show its age, though, particularly compared to Chromebooks with the more modern Core M3 chip. Most websites load quickly, but have too many tabs open and the R11 starts to slow down. That’s partly down to the meagre 2GB of RAM.
At least battery life is superb, lasting for 8h 34m of video playback, or a day’s worth of working.
The 16GB of storage is a little measly, even if most of your files will live in the cloud. An SD card can sit flush with the laptop, though, so you can leave it in there full time.
The 11.6in screen is decent enough, with excellent viewing angles and high brightness. Colours aren’t all that vibrant, though, and the 1366x768 resolution is the bare minimum we’d expect. There are just enough pixels for full-screen web browsing, but it isn’t the sharpest screen. Given the price, though, it’s a reasonable compromise.
It works well as a tablet, but most of the R11’s life will be spent as a traditional laptop - so the keyboard and touchpad need to be up to par.
First, the good. The Chiclet-style keyboard might be a little soft, but there’s enough travel and feedback is excellent. The touchpad, though? It’s a mixed bag. Swipes and two-finger gestures are handled well, but clicking is a different game altogether. You’ve got to push with a lot of force, which makes the R11 frustrating to use.
Ultimately, for the price, the Chromebook R11 is still something of a bargain. But, that touchpad is so bad that takes the shine off what would otherwise be an ideal budget 2-in-1.
STUFF SAYS ★★★☆☆
Tough, well made, and with tablet-transforming skills, the Acer R11 has no right to be this cheap, but that ropey touchpad is still a disappointment.
Acer Chromebook R11 in figures Operating system: Chrome OS • Screen: 11.6in 1366x768 • Processor: Dual-core Intel Celeron N3050 • RAM: 2GB • Storage: 16GB plus SD • Weight: 1.2kg