Acer Chromebook 715: Chrome OS comes of age
Chromebooks are best known for their limitations rather than the things they get right. However, with the Acer Chromebook 715, that story may change.
The Chromebook 715 itself is a well-crafted machine with a lot of positives. The keyboard and touchpad are excellent, the build quality rivals some premium office notebooks, and the machine’s longevity is more than enough to get through a workday with enough left in the tank for an evening of media. For users that live and work in the cloud, the Chromebook 715 is an excellent machine.
The main highlights of the Chromebook 715 lie in its operating system. You may remember Chrome OS as that strange Chrome-based operating system that is fairly limited compared to Windows or macOS machines. However, Chrome OS has come a long way in the past few years.
Android app integration is now flawless. In our testing, apps installed without a hitch and ran smoothly without any hiccups. The biggest problem is app optimization; not all apps translate well to the laptop form factor, but some (especially office apps) feel (mostly) at home.
In addition to Android support, Chrome OS now supports Linux. The feature is still in beta, but it opens a massive door to a new world of productivity. Based around Debian Stretch, the Linux system on Chrome OS allows users to install apps in the Debian repository and associated third-party repositories. After the initial setup process, we were easily able to install Steam, Kdenlive (a video editor), and PyCharm (a development environment for Python). All of these apps worked as expected without any issue. We were even able to download and play games via Steam, and the experience felt limited to the integrated GPU rather than software.
The Chromebook 715 has its fair share of drawbacks, though. The display is dimmer than most other laptops on the market at 250 nits. The webcam is awful, and that’s being generous. The biggest hurdle, though, is the price tag. At US $899, the Chromebook 715 is very expensive for a Chromebook.
While we enjoy the Acer Chromebook 715, we ultimately cannot recommend it over the equally-excellent (and cheaper) Dell Inspiron 7486 Chromebook 14 2-in-1.