Chromebooks, filled with Google-derived software and relying on ubiquitous Wi-Fi, continue to sell, especially in educational markets (Android and iOS tablets help fill students’ hands as well). Until now, Chromebooks have been small, using 11- and 13-inch screens to keep costs down. But Acer, which claims to have about 40 percent of the Chromebook market worldwide, has upped the ante with its new Chromebook C910-54M1. The better name on the box is the Acer Chromebook 15, referring to the 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 screen.
Looking all the world like a professional business laptop, the Acer Chromebook 15 appears to be another of Acer’s many laptop models, with a matte black, tough, plastic-textured top; chiclet keyboard; and full-HD screen. But when the operating system asks for your login in about four seconds, you realize this isn’t a typical knowledge worker laptop but something different. And for many users, that difference will be a good thing.
Setup and Configuration
Getting this Chromebook out of the box feels just like getting a new laptop ready for work. The patterned lid says midlevel, not executive-class, machine, and the Intel Core i5 sticker and high-resolution screen are what you would expect. But the dialogue box that opens asks you to set the language, the keyboard (both defaulted to U.S. on our unit), and the Wi-Fi network to jump on. That’s when you know it’s not a Windows laptop.
We chose to connect to our test Wi-Fi network powered by a Linksys AC2400 by clicking on the correct SSID from the list provided, then adding the password. That’s it for configuration. There’s no Ethernet port, so Wi-Fi is your only network option.
Since this is a Chromebook, all the rest of the configuration details are built into the Google username. Our Gmail app opened up inside the Chrome browser, and we were able to handle email and do all the work we normally do in Google Drive, Apps, Docs, Sheets, etc. If you are a cloud fan in general and a Google user in particular, a Chromebook like this one from Acer could be your go-to machine in many situations.
Our five-page Setup Guide did a good job of explaining the simple setup procedure. Best news for Chromebook fans? New ChromeOS functions do a better job of replicating Windows mouse commands. Press two fingers to the trackpad to get the Windows equivalent of a right-button mouse click. Move those two fingers up and down to scroll vertically, or side to side to scroll horizontally.
The “Search Key” replaced the Caps Lock key on earlier Chromebooks, doing away with the all-caps function. Good to thwart those few who still SCREAM IN EMAIL but awkward for those of us who use the key correctly. Now you can toggle Caps Lock using Alt + Search Key.