Remember the Netbook? Well Acer has come out with a full Windows 10 device that reminds us a lot of that pint size PC. The Acer Aspire One Cloudbook 11 is 11.6 inches which makes it’ big enough that you can be productive and starting at $169, it certainly is budget enough to make it attractive. But Acer cut some corners that don’t make this device appropriate for everyone, find out if you fit the demographic.
The Acer Aspire Cloudbook 11 AO1-131 is 11.6 inches, a display resolution of 1366 x 768 which is matte so it makes it easy to use if you like typing in the sun.
Connectivity wise we’ve got a full HDMI, and SD card reader USB 2.0 port and 3.0 which is nice that at least one connector gives you fast transfer speeds along side WiFi 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.0.
Under the hood we’ve got an Intel Celeron N3050 dual core processor with 2GB of RAM and 32GBor eMMC storage. We recommend that you don’t go for the smaller version for $169, pay the $20 more and get the 32GB of storage, because you’re running Windows 10 you’ll only have 12 or 28GB of available storage left respectively.
The slightly more expensive version come with a free 1 year subscription of Microsoft Office and 1TB of online storage which is pretty much like getting the notebook for $119.
When it comes to 4,200mAh battery which at 100% with wifi on estimates that it you’ll get 14 hours, I got between 7 and 8 hours.
The keyboard on the Cloubook 11 feels slightly smaller than full size, it took me about 10 minutes of touch typing to stop hitting the neighboring keys occasionally. It is island style keyboard so there is actually a little bit space in between and each key has an acceptable amount of travel at 1.7mm.
I am a touch typer so I easily get annoyed if I have to look at they keyboard too much when I’m trying to get something done. The arrow and page up design isn’t easy to use without looking at and I do with that they’d have put the function controls as the primary buttons. Its very rare that I’m hitting F3 and more often that I’d like to control the display’s brightness. There are a few little things that made me think that they could have things a little smoother.
The track pad is larger and it’s not made of glass, but they’ve put a finish to make it smooth and sikly to the touch. I do with that the construction was a little better, the right had side felt as if it was less ‘springy’ than the right, like I was pushing it further than I wanted it to when I was using the right mouse button.
The display is bright enough and I like that it’s matte even though it mutes the colors slightly over the glossy hyper reflective display’s that are all the rage. Viewing angles are decent when shifting the notebook from left to right, but tilt it back too much and it gets less usable.
The overall construction of the case isn’t great, it’s atleast matte like the display and not shiny and cheap feeling. The plastic is a rough texture that doesn’t get covered in finger prints but there was few times when I wondered if I’d been eating fried chicken the way it did pick up a few darker smears, I did need to use a laptop cleaning solution to remove them.
On the bottom of the Cloudbook 11 you’ll find 2 speakers which are definitely audible, but I wouldn’t want to use watch a whole movie on it, I’d rather connect external speakers or use headphones. They don’t have much bass and sound hollow, but you can hear what’s going on which is more than I can say for a lot of tablet speakers.
While we’re on the bottom of the PC you can see that there are screws to take off the bottom, and if you’re wondering if you could grade the memory or storage. You can’t. The battery is accessible, but you won’t be able to access any of the parts you wish you could upgrade.
You might notice that there are no heating vents as the Braswell CPU allows for a fanless design. Having said that if you’re worried about the machine heating up I had no issues what so ever with temperature. If it does get warm it will happen a little bit on the bottom by the battery and you’ll never feel the palm rests warm up which is often my main concept with laptop thermals.
When looking at the hardware there is on thing that I have to mention that the SD card doesn’t sit flush to the machine when you put it in, it sticks out half way. This is a problem if you thought that you were going use the SD card slot as expanded storage, you can’t. The problem is that you’ll eventually end up damaging the slot, I’ve dropped more than one machine with the SD card sticking out and you have to get it replaced.
All in all when it comes to design I have no real complaints, but as we head into Performance that’s where the story changes.
Performance – One Thing at a Time
It’s easy to forget that this is a $189 Notebook, it has a decent display, good keyboard and an overall design that looks really looks like a no compromise notebook. Surfing the web, editing a document and watching a movie all can run smoothly, but as long as you’re not doing them at the same time. The machine is not capable to multitasking.
It doesn’t take long to discover the limits of what this machine can do, because it’s only capable of doing one thing at a time. Running Skype in the background will make surfing the web sluggish. I uninstalled McAfee which came preloaded and this helped immensely. When I plugged in a USB the machine couldn’t handle having a web page open and scanning the thumb-drive.
If you’re going to buy this use Microsoft’s Edge browser, it stresses the CPU less than Firefox or Chrome, you should actually not even bother to install Chrome, I was hitting 100% CPU usage and 97% memory when ever I opened a page. The CPU load rises to to between 80-90% and once the web page is fully loaded it drops between 25-50%, but as soon as you try to open anything else it’ll jump back up to near 100%. My guess behind why Edge runs better is that it is lighter but it doesn’t have extensions to make things more complicated.
If you want to multitask this is not the machine for you. Students who might want to do research with multiple tabs open while working on a document you’ll experience moments of unresponsiveness and there is a high probability that the browser will crash. But if you’re just doing one thing at a time like opening an app from the Windows Store, Netflix for example, opens quite quickly.
The upside to the one track mind is that it has good battery life, Braswell uses less power than Bay Trail it’s down to a 6 watt TDP and with the 4,200mAh I was getting between 7 and 8 hours of use.
On 3DMark’s Ice Storm we saw a score of 11,198, if you want to compare that to a Core M processor (5Y10) which gets around 28,749.
Another thing that made me a little crazy about the Cloudbook 11 was just how much bloatware came preloaded. The first thing I would do is go through it and remove at least a dozen apps.
One of the advantages of having a full Windows 10 notebook is that you can load full Windows programs like Photoshop. What you will have to keep in mind is that sometimes things are going to grind to a half and other times the performance isn’t half bad. Loading one web page at a time.
I tried to write most of this review on the Cloudbook 11, they keyboard is decent and I did get about half of it done, but as soon as I wanted to run a few more things it got annoying at slowed down. You really do have to want it for doing singular tasks.
The compromises on performance versus the price of the machine doesn’t make much sense. Two years ago a Netbook could run a few browser tabs, play a video and work on a few documents. Two years ago this would have been acceptable, but these days it’s tough to justify even at this price.It is disappointing that the Cloudbook can’t handle multitasking, having said that if you are looking for a device that only does one task at a time and you’re tech savvy enough to know about shutting down additional programs this could be the device for you. But if you want a machine that is capable of doing a few thing at once or don’t want to figure out how to shut things down so the device runs smoothly you should probably keep looking. The ASUS X205 is more expensive but a very solid option.