Acer Chromebook R 11 review

The Acer Chromebook R 11 proves ChromeOS isn’t ready to handle touchscreens

Acer's Chromebook R 11 offers a touchscreen, but ChromeOS doesn't take advantage of it.
Acer's Chromebook R 11 offers a touchscreen, but ChromeOS doesn't take advantage of it.
Acer's Chromebook R 11 offers a touchscreen, but ChromeOS doesn't take advantage of it.


  • Solid case with a sturdy hinge
  • Wraparound hinge and touchscreen
  • Good battery life


  • ChromeOS isn’t optimized for touch
  • Finicky touchpad
  • Weak performance
  • Pricey for a Chromebook, given the specs

DT Editors' Rating

If your tablet only offered a web browser, would you use it? Acer is hoping so.

Its new Acer Chromebook R 11 isn’t the cheapest Chromebook we’ve ever seen. $330 puts it squarely in the mid-to-upper tier of pricing in a ChromeOS’s low-cost niche. It’s also not the most powerful Chromebook, sporting an Intel Celeron N3150 quad-core processor from the “Braswell” family – much slower than the Core line most people know Intel for.

But the Acer Chromebook R 11 does stand out in one clear way. It offers a touchscreen, and a turnaround hinge. This means you can use it as a laptop, or flip the screen around and use it like a tablet.

There are other upsides to report. Its 4GB of DDR3L SDRAM is plenty for ChromeOS, and the 32GB SSD isn’t bad so far as Chromebooks go. But is ChromeOS with a touchscreen compelling enough to justify a $100 price hike?

A solid 2-in-1 with an attractive case

Pick up the the Acer Chromebook R 11 and you’ll find a lot to like. The textured top and bottom panels give you a solid grip, making this an easy laptop to carry around that’s compact while closed. There’s not a lot of flex to the case, and the double-jointed wraparound hinge works really well. You can turn the screen all the way around in one smooth motion, but it will hold steady wherever you leave it — no screen wobbling here. While in tablet mode things feel natural. Well, as natural as a tablet with a deactivated keyboard on the back can possibly feel.

Considering the price point, there’s not a lot to complain about in terms of build quality. It’s solid, and this is a $350 device, not a premium one. It’s a plastic case, though Acer did add a sheet of textured aluminum to the top panel to add a little bit of premium flair.

Touchscreens don’t add much to ChromeOS

A big reason for the recent surge in laptop/tablet hybrids is Windows 10. That operating system offers two distinct modes — one for general computing, another for tablet usage — that prioritize different things. When you’re using your machine as a laptop, you see the start menu and the conventional desktop. When you’re using it as a tablet, you see the start screen and one app at a time, with larger interface elements. This software solution makes the hardware of 2-in-1 devices very appealing to use.

ChromeOS doesn’t offer anything like that. There is an on-screen keyboard, and the screen auto-rotates when you flip the device. Both of these features are nice, but beyond that, ChromeOS needs a lot of work before it can really benefit from a touch screen.

The interface elements aren’t optimized for a touchscreen. They’re too small. If you want to close a tab, you’re likely to miss the tiny “x” button more times than not. The same happens if you want to open a new tab, or fill in the boxes on a form. Mobile operating systems are designed with clumsy fingers in mind. ChromeOS is not.

Things would be different if ChromeOS actually offered its long-rumored support for Android apps, but like many Google plans that effort seems to have fizzled. You might well find a use for the Chromebook R 11’s touchscreen, but we’re not sure it’s a feature most people will actually use all that often.

Two USB ports, HDMI, and an SD card reader

The Chromebook R 11 sports one USB 3.0 port and another USB 2.0 port. There’s an SD card reader, allowing you to supplement the 32GB internal drive. For your audio-visual needs, there’s an HDMI port and a headphone jack.

Decent keyboard, problematic touchpad

Chromebooks are known for their unique keyboard layout, and the R 11 is not an exception. The F keys are gone, replaced entirely by functions like volume, brightness, and full-screen. The caps lock key, that relic from the typewriter age, is also gone, replaced with a Google-friendly search key.

The keys themselves aren’t exceptional in any way, but not bad either. They’re comfortable to type on and give a somewhat crisp feedback that, while not pronounced, is also not vague. Some users might find the keyboard a touch small.

The touchpad is problematic. It’s plenty wide, but not terribly tall, which can leave your finger hitting the edges a lot during normal usage. You can tap-to-click, and we suggest you do, because the actual clicking feels chintzy. Remember how infomercials sometimes use an exaggerated mouse clicking sound right after mentioning their website? This touchpad actually sounds like that.

Overall, the keyboard and touchpad are about what we expect from a $330 laptop. Not exceptional, but also not bad.

1366 x 768 resolution in 2016

The Chromebook R 11 sports an 11.6-inch display, which isn’t a lot of room to work with. Perhaps because of this, Acer decided to offer a max resolution of 1366 x 768, which is quite a bit short of the full HD (1920×1080). It’s a very low resolution in a world where smartphones routinely offer HD, and means it’s literally impossible to watch a video in full HD.

Otherwise, the display’s quality is acceptable. While watching the unnecessarily dark trailer for Batman Vs. Superman, I had trouble making out a lot of details, and it wasn’t all Zack Snyder’s fault. It can be hard to distinguish dark things on this display, including Batman. In brighter scenes, though, the laptop looked reasonably good, with reasonably vibrant color and good-enough contrast. Again, you have to keep in mind the price. The display is no award-winner, but it’s acceptable for a $330 computer.

That famous “good enough” Chromebook performance

This Chromebook’s Intel Celeron N3150 processor is a quad-core running at 1.6GHz. It is part of the “Braswell” family, which it does not use the Core architecture found in most Intel chips. A quad-core sounds fast on paper, but the reality of the Celeron N3150 is different.

There’s not a lot of flex to the case, and the double-jointed wraparound hinge works well.

That’s not a lot of power, but it’s enough for most Chrome users. In day-to-day browsing you won’t notice any hang-ups, but you occasionally might play online games or use web-based photo editors and the like. For things like email and Facebook, however, this Chromebook will chug along nicely.

Our benchmarks won’t run on ChromeOS, so we’re left with subjective tests. But running the Chrome browser on a five-year-old MacBook is a much better experience for day-to-day usage, and anyone with a reasonably powerful Windows 10 computer is likely to feel the same way.

The Chromebook R 11certainly doesn’t compare well to the Toshiba Chromebook 2 (2015), which could handle just about anything without a performance hit. And certainly, this processor running Windows or OS X would be disaster. The lightweight ChromeOS makes affordable hardware workable, which is no small part of its appeal.

Take it anywhere, easily

At 2.76 pounds, this is a lightweight laptop, and it’s only three quarters of an inch thick while closed. You should be able to fit it into any bag or backback without any difficulty, and you might not even notice you’re carrying it.

The battery life is also decent. We recorded six hours and 33 minutes of life out of a single charge while running the Peacekeeper benchmark. We’ve seen Chromebooks reach as high as as seven hours, but six and a half is very respectable.

Acer Chromebook R11
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Our web loop battery test, where we cycle through a series of popular websites, showed a similar result: six hours 35 minutes. If you’re browsing the web, you can expect a half-day of usage away from the charger.


This laptop comes with a standard one-year warranty. That’s the norm for laptops of any price, so we wouldn’t expect more from this affordable Chromebook.

Touchscreen adds to price but not to value

Acer Chromebook R 11 costs $100 more than devices with similar specs, so it’s the touchscreen and reversible hinge that set it apart. If you can see yourself occasionally flipping over the screen and reading a website in tablet mode, and are willing to pay $100 for that, we say go for it. Otherwise, the R 11 doesn’t make sense.

The Acer Chromebook 15, for example, is a better buy. For less money you’ll enjoy a bigger screen and similar specs. The Dell Chromebook 11, meanwhile, has the same screen size as the R 11, but is $100 less. Another cheaper Chromebook is the Lenovo Ideapad 100S. Even Acer makes several standard clamshell Chromebooks that are substantially less expensive.

You get the idea. You’re paying for the touchscreen. That isn’t unusual among 2-in-1 devices, but we’d argue ChromeOS doesn’t make most of the feature. Look elsewhere unless touch is something you’re absolutely certain you want.


Want to game on your Chromebook? Here's where to start

Chromebooks aren't great for gaming, but there are a few titles that most machines can run. There's a surprisingly diverse crowd that includes role-playing games, action side-scrollers, and puzzlers.

HDR monitors are beginning to have an impact. Here are the best you can buy

HDR isn't the most common of PC monitor features and is often charged at a premium, but the list of available options is growing. These are the best HDR monitors you can buy right now.

Here are the best laptop deals for November 2018

Whether you've started a new school year, are shopping for a student, or you just need a new computer, we've got you covered: These are the best laptop deals going right now, from discounted MacBooks to on-the-go gaming PCs.

Here’s how to install Windows on a Chromebook

If you want to push the functionality of your new Chromebook to another level, and Linux isn't really your deal, you can try installing Windows on a Chromebook. Here's how to do so, just in case you're looking to nab some Windows-only…

Need a free alternative to Adobe Illustrator? Here are our favorites

Photoshop and other commercial tools can be expensive, but drawing software doesn't need to be. This list of the best free drawing software is just as powerful as some of the more expensive offerings.

The best Walmart Black Friday deals in 2018

Walmart has historically been the undisputed king of Black Friday deals. The mega-store is known for offering deals on products in almost every category, from smart TVs to children’s toys. We're combing through every deal as it is…

Playing ‘Battlefield V’ on an $800 Nvidia card is stunning. And disappointing

‘Battlefield V’ is the first game to use Nvidia’s ray tracing support, now available with the RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti graphics cards. The feature can, in an ideal scenario, make the game look better, but the performance hit may not be…

All the best Apple MacBook deals for Black Friday 2018

Shoppers looking for a new Apple laptop could find huge savings on a new MacBook come Black Friday. Retailers are offering discounts as much as $650 on select MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro models this holiday season.
Smart Home

All the best Amazon Black Friday deals for 2018

Amazon may be an online-only retailer, but that doesn’t mean its Black Friday sales are anything to sniff at. In fact, due to its online status, Amazon has huge flexibility with the range of products and deals it can offer. Here's our…

Save a heap with these Black Friday 2018 graphics card deals

The Black Friday 2018 sales period is finally here and it's brought with it a tonne of great component deals. We've been scouring websites and catalogs for days to find you the best graphics cards deals for Black Friday 2018.

HP takes $100 off of leather-clad Spectre Folio 13 bundle for Black Friday

HP is offering a discount to Black Friday shoppers for a bundle that includes its leather-wrapped answer to Apple's MacBook Air. HP is offering a $100 discount on the Spectre Folio 13 when bundled with a mouse and leather sleeve.

The best Target Black Friday deals for 2018

The mega-retailer opens its doors to the most competitive shoppers at 6 p.m. on Thursday, November 22, and signs indicate that the retailer means business this year. We've sifted through all of the deals, from consumer electronics to small…

Black Friday 2018: The best deals so far

Black Friday 2018 is the biggest shopping holiday of the year, and some of the best deals have already arrived. We've scoured the web to find discounts from Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Target, and more. Don't miss out.

Still miss Windows 7? Here's how to make Windows 10 look more like it

There's no simple way of switching on a Windows 7 mode in Windows 10. Instead, you can install third-party software, manually tweak settings, and edit the registry. We provide instructions for using these tweaks and tools.