The Next@Acer event has wrapped up and we now have a total of 4 new Chromebooks headed to store shelves in the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (see our initial impressions here), Chromebook 514, Chromebook 314, and the giant, 17.3-inch Chromebook 317. While there was no in-person event this year (for understandable reasons), Acer did send us a couple of these new Chromebooks to check out and there’s honestly a lot to like about them both.
Acer is touting the Acer 317 as the world’s first 17-inch Chromebook and while that is a defining characteristic of this machine for sure, there’s more to this device than just it’s giant footprint. This is also one of the first Chromebooks with Intel’s latest small-core processors inside. Jasper Lake promises big upgrades in performance and graphics while keeping prices under control and battery life long. While I can’t yet speak to the performance gains of Jasper Lake, I can tell you this Chromebook 317 feels plenty snappy and that makes me excited for the future of low-cost, affordable Chromebooks.
Around the edges we have a USB Type C and USB Type A on both sides of the device along with a headphone/mic jack, microSD card slot and Kensington lock. The all-plastic build feels sturdy and looks great on the table, but it’s not thin or light in any sense. At just over 5 pounds and 22.5mm thick, you’ll notice this one in the bag. But I think that’s OK for the intended audience. If you’re buying a 17.3-inch laptop, I’d recon your use case is primarily as a desktop device that can be taken with you when needed.
When you crack open the substantial chassis, you can’t help but be struck by the sheer size of the 16:9 IPS display. It’s reasonably bright (we measured 275 nits), anti-glare, and just massive. Watching a trailer or two was very immersive when compared with a more-standard 13-14-inch screen. Viewing angles are good and I think for the price, this screen is a solid choice by Acer.
Down below we get what feels like a solid keyboard with nice travel and click that is flanked on the right by a numeric keypad. With an option for backlit keys, this keyboard feels really great to type on so far. The trackpad beneath that keyboard is solid, large, and definitely plastic. Though not as nice to use as a glass trackpad, the surface feels decent and the click mechanism is fantastic, solid, and quiet.
On the left and right of those input methods, we get some upward firing speakers that in just a couple tests sound really good. I wouldn’t put them above the Pixelbook Go or ASUS CX5, but they are really nice and provide great stereo separation. From what I can tell out of the box, spoken word is clear, full, and easy to pick up on. Paired with the 82-degree wide angle front facing camera and you have the makings of a great video conferencing Chromebook.
Pricing will start at $379 in June at Walmart and will include the dual-core Intel Celeron N4500, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. We’d expect the optional touchscreen and backlit keyboard will come on the higher-spec models and we don’t yet have official pricing on that front. The model we’re testing is the middle spec with backlit keys, the quad-core Celeron N5100 and 8GB of RAM. On the higher end of the spectrum, we’ll see up to 128GB of storage, a touchscreen, and the quad-core Pentium 6000 processor. All of these processor options fall in the small-core Intel Jasper Lake family, so I’d expect prices to fluctuate within about $200 of the starting price with all the bells and whistles included.
For now that’s about all we have to say on this one. It’s big, sure, but the Acer Chromebook 317 is also very good from the outset. I like the build, I like the screen, keyboard, ports, and extra bells and whistles users will have an option on, too. If Jasper Lake chips perform as we anticipate (and I fully expect they will), this is a very nice package at a very reasonable starting price if you are after a very, very large Chromebook. Be sure and get subscribed for the full review and more thoughts on the largest Chromebook made thus far.