Acer C720 vs. Samsung Series 3 XE303 Chromebook

Comparison of the two most affordable Chromebooks available

Chromebooks and smaller laptops have become very popular, but there are very limited in the number of products from which to choose. Two popular choices are the Acer C720 and the Samsung Series 3.

Comparing the advantages and drawbacks of each are helpful in determining the best choice to fit your needs.

Overall Findings

Acer
  • Long battery life.

  • Powerful processor.

  • Slim and well built.

  • Significant viewing angles.

Samsung
  • Slim and lightweight.

  • Stylish appearance.

  • Notable screen brightness.

  • Well laid out keyboard.

Both the Acer C720 and the Samsung Series 3 XE303 Chromebook have similar 11-inch screen size and pricing of under $300. They are also quite similar in features.

The Acer has some advantages in power and performance while the Samsung device takes a slight lead when it comes to appearance, portability and ease of use.

Design: Style and Function

Acer
  • Sturdy build.

  • Simple design.

  • Practical peripherals.

Samsung
  • Thin and lightweight.

  • Comfortable keyboard.

  • Card reader separate from other peripherals.

Since both the Acer and the Samsung Chromebooks both use an 11-inch display, their dimensions are relatively close in size. The Samsung model is slightly thinner at .69-inches compared to the Acer .8-inches and has the advantage of weighing about a quarter-pound less, making the Samsung model a bit more portable than the Acer. Both systems are made primarily of plastic on the exterior with an internal metal frame and look like traditional laptops with their grayish colors and black keyboards and bezels. In terms of the fit and finish, the Samsung also comes out slightly ahead but only by a small margin.

Both Acer and Samsung use very similar keyboard designs and layouts for the Chromebooks. They use an isolated style design that spans almost the entire width of the Chromebook. Spacing is adequate, but the small size of the system means that those with large hands may have problems on either. It comes down to the feel and accuracy of them. For this, Samsung has a very slight edge, but it is ultimately a personal preference as people will find the functionality of both the keyboard and trackpad nearly identical.

In terms of the peripheral ports available to both the Acer and Samsung Chromebooks, they offer the same number and type of ports. Each has one USB 3.0, one USB 2.0, an HDMI, and a 3-in-1 card reader. They are functionally the same when it comes to peripheral devices. The difference is how they are laid out on the system. Samsung puts all but the card reader on the right-hand side. Acer offers the USB 2.0 and card reader on the right while the left has the HDMI and USB 3.0 port. The Acer layout is a bit more practical as it puts fewer cables in the way on the right-hand side if you intend to use an external mouse.

Performance: Mid-Range Power

Acer
  • Intel Celeron 2955U dual-core processor.

  • Apps load quickly.

  • Longer battery life.

Samsung
  • Dual-core ARM-based processor.

  • Faster CPU speed.

  • Short battery life.

Acer based their C720 around the Intel Celeron 2955U dual-core processor, which is a laptop processor similar to the Haswell based ones you find in low-cost Windows laptops. Samsung, on the other hand, decided to use a dual-core ARM-based processor that one would find in a mid-range mobile phone or tablet. The two are very different, but when it comes right down to it, the Acer has the advantage even with its lower clock speeds. The system boots into Chrome OS a bit faster, and Chrome apps also come up quicker. Both are quite acceptable when you consider their network speeds often limit them, but the Acer feels smoother.

Acer C720 Laptop
 Acer

With similar dimensions, both the Acer and Samsung Chromebooks use a similar size battery pack. Since Samsung designed the device for low power consumption mobile devices, one would assume that the ARM-based processor should offer better battery life. However, it appears that other components may be putting a more heavy draw on that battery pack. In digital video playback tests, the Acer offers six and a half hours of running time compared to the five and a half hours of the Samsung. So, if you need to use a Chromebook for long stretches without power, the Acer is the better choice.

Display: Nothing to Write Home About

Acer
  • Touchscreen available.

  • Wide angle view.

  • Low contrast level.

Samsung
  • Traditional screen.

  • Notable brightness.

  • Poor visibility in sunlight.

Sadly the displays on both models are not much to write about. They both use a similar 11.6-inch diagonal display and feature a 1366x768 resolution. The Acer is available with touchscreen technology, while the Samsung is not.

The only advantage that the Samsung display offers is a bit more brightness than the Acer model. Acer, on the other hand, has slightly wider viewing angles. Both will be difficult to use outdoors and still don't have solid color or contrast levels.

Final Verdict: Acer Slightly Stands Out

Based on all the factors discussed so far, the Acer comes out ahead thanks to its better performance and battery life. So many of the other features are just so similar that these two areas have a more significant impact for users than the portability of the Samsung. It is also the reason that the Acer C720 made it on the list of the best Chromebooks, but the Samsung did not.