Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-58HF Review
The Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-58HF is so far the largest of its ilk we’ve seen with enough real estate, and when you boil it down, it has more to offer in terms of processing power. Otherwise, if it is not for better multitasking, it offers a standard Chromebook experience, just with a larger display and chassis.
The latest Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-58HF from Acer must be the biggest ever –physically speaking. Now we’re being treated to developments in the Chromebook category as we see them evolve from the inexpensive 10- and 11 –inch units selling for slightly less, to newer system with bigger screens and even some newer processor such as Intel’s Core i3 and Core i5 processors always seen in ultrabooks and premium laptops.
In the Chromebook 15, Acer pumped up the price and threw in a larger 15.6-inch Full HD screen and a 5th Generation Intel Core i5 processor –never seen before in a Chromebook. The Chromebook is betting on enhanced processing power and the largest screen size so far for any Chromebook sold yet. Let’s see if a bigger screen adds up to replace the ASUS C300MA-DH02-LTE as our Editors’ Choice.
First and foremost, the Chromebook 15 is as big as any Chromebook can get, I can bet we will now see even bigger Chromebooks in the next few months. It measures a whopping 0.97 by 15.08 by 9.65 inches (HWD), and weighs in at 4.85 pounds; it’s the largest Chrome-OS-based laptop yet.
Still wondering what happened to our portable Chromebooks models like the HP Chromebook 11(0.69 by 7.68 by 11.69 inches) or even 13-inchers, like the Asus Chromebook C300 (0.8 by 13 by 9 inches) or the Toshiba CB35-B3340 Chromebook 2 (0.71 by 12.9 by 9 inches). Even with the bigger size, it comes with an inexpensive plastic construction –available in white or black, with a textured pattern across the lid and underside. Though not as slim and sleek as some other models, it’s not unlike other budget-friendly, 15-inch laptops we’ve reviewed.
Apparently, it is not possible to run our standard software tests on Chromebooks, so we have nothing to compare and contrast, but with Intel Core i5 processor, the Chromebook 15 is definitely nimble while browsing the Web and streaming media. This eliminates the challenge we’ve seen in most Chromebooks whose weakest aspect is performance in multitasking.
For the smaller Chromebooks, once you have nine or 10 browsing tabs open, the performance slows considerably, and in some uses—like taking on multiple video streams in Google Hangouts—you’ll really feel the pinch. By and large, however, these problems are common to all Chromebooks but the Chromebook 15 definitely offers better multitasking capabilities. It should be noted that the positives remain, like 6-second boot time and 5-second wake time.
The Chromebook 15 has 32GB of solid-state memory. That’s not much, despite being twice the 16GB usually allotted to Chrome-OS-based laptops. Google encourages cloud storage by offering you a free 100GB of additional Google Drive storage (good for 24 months) with purchase of the laptop. This makes a lot of sense, given that Chrome relies on Web-connected apps like Google Drive and its suite of free office apps (Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides) for productivity work, and uses apps and extensions from the Chrome Store instead of traditional local software.
For the larger chassis, I was expecting a decent port selection, only to get a little let down upon realizing that the Chromebook 15 has the same basic ports, just like other smaller models. On the right are an SD card slot, a USB 2.0 port, and a Kensington lock slot. On the left are the power connector, an HDMI output, a USB 3.0 port, and a headset jack. Above the display is an HD webcam. Inside, the device boasts 802.11ac Wi-Fi, but enhances both the speed and quality of the connection with a dual-band MIMO setup. Bluetooth 4.0 is also built in.
However, the larger chassis allows more room for the keyboard. In this case, that means the same full-size, chiclet-style version seen on Acer’s 11- and 13-inch models, with a few Chrome-specific features like a dedicated search button and a row of Chrome functions instead of F1-F12 keys. You also get two stereo speakers that flank the system, with very clear sound and rather impressive audio. I tried it with Ken Rogers’ Gambler song and it was loud enough to fill the room, without any noticeable distortion or buzz, even when I clanked the sound all the way up.
The larger size brings along several advantages. For instance, it is now possible to have a larger display and bigger battery thanks to a wider, deeper chassis. On the Chromebook 15, you get a 15.6-inch screen boosting full HD (1,920-by-1,080 pixel) resolution, which is a newer feature in the Chromebooks category although we’ve seen it in few other systems, like the Acer Chromebook 13 (CB5-311-T9B0), but never at this size.
So far the closest any model has offered in terms of size is 14 inches in the HP Pavilion Chromebook, which is essentially a 14-inch ultrabook loaded with Google’s Chrome OS. Acer’s Chromebook 15 line comes in three variants, with same size and 4GB RAM, but the difference is in the processor type and so is the price as you go up the ladder: Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-C09S (Intel Celeron Dual-Core 3205U 1.5 GHz Processor); Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-362Q (Intel Core i3-5005U 2.0 GHz Processor); and, Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-58HF (Intel Core i5-5200U 2.2 GHz).
The Chromebook 15 CB5-571-58HF is outfitted with a 5th Generation Intel Core i5-5200U 2.2 GHz (3MB Cache) processor, paired with 4GB of RAM. It is the same processor Acer offers in its similarly sized and priced Acer Chromebook NX.EF3AA.011, and similar to those seen in budget-friendly Windows systems, like the Toshiba Satellite C55-C5241, Acer Aspire E5-571-58CG, and the HP 15-r210dx. In a Windows laptop, this low level processor may feel a bit overwhelmed (unless you have additional memory like 8GB or more like in the above systems).
However, Chrome shifts a lot of the work to the cloud, allowing Chromebooks to offer pretty good performance in Web browsing, media streaming, and app use. Now, the one possible drawback of this particular model is that the larger size and processing power may make some users more aware of the (perceived) limitations of the Chrome OS, but the overall performance is noticeably different than smaller Chromebooks but not very different from similarly powered Windows systems.
On battery, the system adds up well as compared to the competition with up to 8 hours 40 minutes, which is better than some models like HP Chromebook 11 (5:31) or the Toshiba CB35-B3340 (7:04), though the Asus C300 (10:42) tops it by a full two hours.
The Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-58HF is so far the largest of its ilk we’ve seen with enough real estate, and when you boil it down, it has more to offer in terms of processing power. Otherwise, if it is not for better multitasking, it offers a standard Chromebook experience, just with a larger display and chassis. If you’ve been feeling cramped by the minimalist size of most Chromebook models, then perhaps this is a system for you.
For most shoppers, however, I’d recommend looking at other Chromebooks with unique features at lower prices, as there are plenty of systems in this price range that offer more compelling takes on the basic Chromebook, like the Toshiba CB35-B3340, which has a 13-inch full HD display and Skullcandy audio, or the Editors’ Choice ASUS C300MA-DH02-LTE, which offers more mobility, thanks to wireless data.