Acer Chromebook CB3-431 – user review

I am impressed with this 14″ Chromebook. I was expecting reasonable performance and graphics. I wasn’t expecting lightning response and a 2400 x 1350 screen display.

2400 by 1350 Display! that wasn’t in the specs…

As far as I can make out, the screen hardware resolution is 1920 x 1080, but the display image can be set to oversize the display to 2400 x 1350. You get more visual space, but the resolution does not appear finer on the built in screen.

This will be fantastic on an external monitor via the HDMI output, but I don’t have one to test that aspect. I am guessing this is a feature of the Chrome OS, but being new to both this Acer Chromebook and Chrome OS – it’s just a guess I need to clarify at some point.

But, as far as what I was expecting from this little 14″ Chromebook, it has far exceeded my expectations straight out of the box within minutes of powering it up.

There’s no trackpad buttons…

So from great starts to something that I thought would not be an issue, but it is. The trackpad is large and responsive. It responds nicely to two finger scrolls up and down. And also to multi point drags too.

However, unlike most PC laptops, there are no left and right click buttons. Instead, you have to remember to either press the ALT button before clicking; or use two fingers to get the right mouse click.

This is no big issue as such, unless you are as old as me and have used the PC with a mouse for over 25 years and it has become second nature to want to click right to pull up the secondary menu’s all over the place. But of course the more you use it, the more it becomes automatic.

On the plus side, again, if you plug in a mouse that does have all the buttons, then this will faithfully follow your lead.

I love the keyboard…

I purchased a very expensive Dell Micro PC and it came with an awful keyboard. The keyboard on the CB3-431 Chromebook is fantastic. The keys are solid, hard plastic, encased in a solid aluminium frame.

Every keystroke feels precise, and firm with just the right amount of bounceback from a small keystroke.  Unfortunately that also means it’s not a quiet keyboard. You can definately hear the thud of the spacebar if your in mid flow at high speed. So if you are thinking of using this in a library, be prepared for some stern stares.

Connectivity is sparse, but enough…

There’s not many holes in this case to worry about how fast it will sink in the pool. Basically you have one HDMI, two USB’s, one headset jack and the power jack, that’s your lots as far as physical ports go.

The Wi-Fi is basically what this Chromebook is all about, after all. There’s no media slots, but most people have USB keys anyway so it shouldn’t be an issue.  Everything else will have to be cloud based, but then, almost everything is.

Another nice surprise…

I knew I was getting 32GB of SSD hard drive, but I wasn’t expecting the gift of an extra 100GB of Google Drive space with this Chromebook. It wasn’t advertised as having this, so it comes as a very nice extra surprise.

It’s only for a year, but I might continue it by swapping out my Apple iCloud account for more Google Drive space instead. I can use the Google Drive on all devices without it secretly stealing space from my device, unlike the iCloud drive and Microsoft One drive that both take space from your device hard drive in order to work.

So yes, a very nice extra.

This is no slug…

You can go through the technical details and wonder if this will be fast enough for now and the future. I can happily tell you now that it was fast when I got it out of the box. Then it received a massive Chrome OS update that added Android App capability, and I feared the worst.

I’m glad to say, it’s still as fast as it was. It’s fast, responsive and a dream to use. I have it working at the highest display size of 2400 x 1350 so I know the OS is working hard and really pushing the CPU and GPU in this. But I can’t see any tell tale signs of that, it takes everything I do without a single glitch. So, when the next update comes along, I can’t wait.

Summing Up…

I really believe that I made a good choice in choosing the Acer CB3-431 14″ Chromebook because of several great reasons. It was reduced in price because of newer models recently released. It came with some extra features that I absolutely love. It came with an OS update I wasn’t expecting that now makes it even more flexible and useful.

I am most definitely a happy toad.

If you want all the technical details, there’s plenty of places you can find this and it shouldn’t be of any real surprise to hear what’s inside. But all the bits that have made me feel – good choice JM – wasn’t even mentioned. Hence my raving review, I just had to spread the word. After all, credit where credit is due.

So if you’re thinking about replacing your PC because it’s slow, have a think about whether a Chromebook has the functionality you need. It could be the cheapest PC replacement you ever make. I use it for doing all my blogging, photo editing (via a cloud provider like Canva), and of course Photo storage and retrieval is all on the cloud too.

If I was asked to give this marks out of Ten, it would be a firm 10, and one big massive thumbs up to Chromebook working.

My very own Acer 14

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