After weeks of waiting and checking online for availability, I was able to get my hands on an Acer C7 Chromebook from Best Buy. At $199, it is perfect for anyone looking to test Chrome OS without making a large investment, but remember that it cost $199 so expectations should not be high. No one should walk in expecting this to compete head-to-head with an Macbook Air for example. Heck, it shouldn't even be considered an alternative.
I wrote a post about Chrome OS a few months ago and my general feeling at the time was that while it was a nice web-based OS, the cost was too high based upon the limitations of being a web-based OS. That changed a few months ago when Samsung released a Chromebook for $249. It was thin, light, and actually looked cool. It was also powered by a ARM-based Samsung Exynos 5 Dual Processor. Did I mention it was $249? It quickly sold out. If you got one, lucky you.
Enter Acer. The Acer C7 Chromebook is essentially a netbook especially if you look at it from a hardware's perspective. Intel Celeron 847 CPU, 2GB of RAM (which can be expanded to 8GB), 320GB hard drive, dual band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, HD webcam, and 11.6" LED-backlit LCD display. It is about an inch thick and weighs about 3 lbs. If this ran Windows, it would probably suck, but it runs Chrome OS so it is not so bad. You also have Ethernet, a 2-in-1 media card reader, 3 USB 2.0 ports as well as HDMI and VGA connections. Not bad, but not great especially when compared to USB 3.0, solid state storage and a 3-in-1 media reader that comes with the $249 Samsung model.
Using the keyboard was better than expected, but I'm not a fan of the touchpad. Feels cheap and clicky. It costs only $199. It gets only about 4 hours of battery life with the included 4-cell lithium-ion battery. Wait, it costs only $199. It uses a traditional hard drive instead of an SSD. Again, it costs only $199. It only has 10/100 Ethernet. Oh yeah, it costs only $199. For $199, you also get deep Google Drive integration with 100GB of free storage for two years. In other words, you get what you pay for and what you pay for is not that bad.
As I mentioned earlier, the Acer C7 Chromebook is basically a netbook. It's a netbook that just happens to run Chrome OS instead of Windows. Chrome OS is limited. It always has been limited. As long as you understand that before you buy it, then you should be ok. Believe it or not, the Acer C7 Chromebook is actually a great performing computer at an unbelievable price. It is perfect for anyone who is part of the Google ecosystem. It is what it is and for $199, I can accept that.