The world doesn’t need another cheap plastic Chromebook, but the world does need alternatives like Acer’s Chromebook 15 CB3-532 which offers a wider screen display. The Chromebook 15 CB3-532 isn’t much of a revolutionary in the world of chrome OS. However, it does offer value and alternative to the similar priced 11 or 13-inch display Chromebooks.
The highlight point for this Chromebook is its all-day battery life that many users will find attractive. This is not the most powerful or stylish Chromebook around but then it is worth a look thanks to its affordability. Despite of all the good things about the Chromebook 15, it does not come closer to the Acer Chromebook 14 (Check review) The Chromebook 14 boasts of a sleek metal build, a 1080p screen, a slimmer profile and better processing power thus it remains our Editor’s top pick.
Design and Features
The Chromebook 15 won’t turn heads with its cheap design. It features a steel-colored plastic lid and keyboard deck while the bottom of the chassis is made from a textured black plastic which feels a bit grubby to the touch.
Measuring 15.08 x 10.08 x 0.95 inches and weighing in at 4.3 pounds makes the Acer Chromebook 15 thicker and bigger than most of the 11-13 inch Chromebooks in the competition. It is bigger and thicker than CTL J5 Chromebook which measures 11.5×8.22×0.88 inches and weighs 3.21 pounds. Similarly the Acer Chromebook 14 weighs less at 3.32 pounds and measuring 13.43×9.31×0.67 inches. Overall, the Chromebook is still light and thin enough for road warriors to pack into their backpacks and move around with it.
The Chromebook comes with 16GB of flash storage which is common but less than what the 32GB that the Acer Chromebook R 11 comes with. The storage memory is less but this is not worrying in any way since Chromebooks run on Chrome OS and they basically rely on cloud storage and the use of web-based applications.
Connectivity options are limited but then this is a common scenario in Chromebooks. The laptop features two USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port to connect to an external display, a headphone/speaker jack, an SD card reader, a security lock slot and a power jack. Wireless connectivity comes via 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2.
Under the hood, the Chromebook 15 houses a 1.6 GHz Intel Celeron N3060 processor that is no different from other Chromebooks. It is coupled with 2 GB of RAM and integrated Intel HD graphics. The combination packs enough power to handle everyday tasks including streaming You Tube, word processing and web browsing. In fact, the Chromebook 15 is capable of running with eight browser tabs open without slowing down. The combination is not the best your money can buy when it comes to Chromebook, as the Acer Chromebook 14 boast of a quad core processor and 4GB of memory to offer a snappy performance.
Battery life remains to be a major win for the Chromebook 15. Acer claims that the machine can offer you up to 12 hours of battery life during regular use. Now that is a whole day of working before plugging it to a power socket meaning you can use it on a 12 hour long flight without having to worry about the battery.
The 15.6-inch display comes with a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels which is very low when compared to current day standards. The screen is bright enough and the text is readable without having to zoom the chrome browser unlike on other 14 inch Chromebooks. However, this screen isn’t great when it comes too watching full-HD videos as it is the case when using a 1080p panel. Another big drawback, is its narrow viewing angle that will force you to position yourself well to enjoy watching a movie. Consequently, it is won’t allow you to watch videos with friends seating on different angles.
The low display panel is forgivable but not with the sound system whose sound quality is surprisingly hollow and tiny. The speakers hidden beneath barely produce enough volume for personal listening leave alone filling your bedroom. This is a disappointment coming from a manufacturer as big as Acer. It couldn’t have cost them anything to embed decent speakers to this personal computer.
Another, albeit understandable and forgivable, misdoing of the Chromebook is the webcam. It features a 1280×720 resolution webcam capable of delivering a decent image in bright light. The camera does not come as a surprise since this is one of the cost-cutting measures employed by Acer and most Chromebooks are of similar quality.
Keyboard and Touch pad
It comes with a middle-of-the road keyboard in comparison with the broad universe of laptop keyboards. It is however much better than the keyboards we have seen in most cheap portable and it gets the job done. A common scene in Chromebooks is the replacement of the Caps Lock Key with a search Key and the Chromebook 15 follows the trend.
Typing on the keyboard is easy and comfortable but with less key travel which you can get used with overtime. There keyboard is not backlit and this does not come as a surprise at this price. As such, you will have to use the screen light or a torch to see the keyboard when you are in a dimly lit environment. The touchpad is responsive to taps, swipes and easy enough to use for everyday tasks. Measuring 4.25 by 3.25 inches, it provides you with enough mousing surface.
The Chromebook 15 CB3-532 is a decent laptop for users who value function over form. The 1.6 GHz Intel Celeron N3060 processor and 2GB of RAM is enough for basic use which includes streaming, surfing and opening web-based applications. It is good for working locally as it allows users to access several downloads available on the chrome web store. The machine is also portable for everyday use and Acer backs it up with a one-year international parts-and-labor warranty. This is not the perfect Chromebook that one can think of buying. Perhaps a higher screen resolution, core 13 CPU with GB RAM and 32 GB SSD for storage could have been a better bargain. The Acer Chromebook 14 could fit this bill and be a better option for your everyday use. However if you are tight on a budget and capable of putting up with the shortcomings, then you may want to consider the Chromebook 15 CB3-532.