Acer Chromebook Plus 515 review: A fast $400 laptop

Hey, remember Chromebooks? Those ultra-cheap laptops that run a stripped-down operating system based on Google’s Chrome web browser? You know, the one your kid had to use for Zoom school and all that “asynchronous learning” during the pandemic?

Well, Chromebooks are back and they’re better than ever. This month Google released a major upgrade called “ Chromebook Plus, an umbrella category for a new class of devices from various manufacturers (including Google itself). The big selling point is speed: New Chromebook Plus laptops promise twice the performance of the “best-selling Chromebooks from July 2022 to December 2022” thanks to faster processors, more RAM, more storage and even better video cameras – all while keeping starting prices the same. Dollar stamp.

My first encounter with a Chromebook Plus was this Acer 515 model, which has a 15.6-inch (non-touch) display. The 3.85GHz 12th Gen Intel Core i3-1215U processor is indeed an impressive step up from previous-generation Chromebooks, although this entry-level configuration’s 8GB of RAM and 128GB of flash storage have been available on Chromebooks for years are . Of course, you can also buy higher-end models that offer more of everything, but upgrading kind of defeats the purpose of buying a Chromebook. Connectivity options are a given, including two USB-C ports (with DisplayPort support), a USB-A port, and an HDMI 1.4 output jack.

Photo: Best Buy

The boost in performance is noticeable right from the start. If you’ve ever used a budget Chromebook, you’ve probably complained about how slow it is when doing simple tasks. Even this minimal configuration is significantly faster than anything that came before – at least twice as fast as older (and more expensive) models I’ve tested, and often even three or four times faster. Battery life hasn’t suffered, with a full-screen video playback time of a solid 8.5 hours.

Meanwhile, new apps from Google’s Pixel universe are included to give the device even more pizzazz, including the “Magic Eraser” photo editing function, options for backup and synchronization with Google Drive, dynamic wallpapers, a stylish video editor and improved video camera Steering.

This was all going great until the Acer Chromebook Plus 515 quit on my second day of testing and completely killed me. I closed the lid and plugged it in to charge. When I opened the laptop later, nothing happened and the system stopped booting. Troubleshooting by Acer’s technical team failed to revive the computer and the company had to send a replacement unit. So far so good with the new one.

Photo: Best Buy

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