Previously, I wrote about the Acer C720 Chromebook that I purchased on Black Friday. I have just returned from my first major travel experience with just the Chromebook in tow, and the verdict is in: this device is fantastic.
I used my Chromebook on the bus from Gainesville to Tampa, on the plane from Tampa to Detroit and from Detroit to Salt Lake, in the airport while waiting for my connections. It’s lightweight, easy to wrestle out from under the seat in front of you on a plane, easy to put aside to accept your complimentary in-flight peanuts. It is small enough to be usable on a tray table even on coach seats, and even reasonably comfortable for me to use with my longer arms.
Granted, I am still running into the occasional memory shortage and related slowdown. But after a few weeks with the device, this isn’t occurring as often as it had before, as I’ve trained myself not to open quite as many tabs. I even managed to do some fairly heavy development while working on the Chromebook using a Digital Ocean server for the heavy lifting. Reasonably reliable internet is ubiquitous enough today that doing the majority of my development work through SSH while traveling is totally possible.
The only major complaint is that using the device is anything but ergonomic. While using it, I spend most of my time staring into my lap, which is not good. But this is a problem with any laptop; and hard to blame on the Acer in particular.
My favorite part about traveling with the c720, though, is that it is cheap enough not to worry about. The device cost less than half as much as my phone, and about as much as I spent on food on the trip. It is cheap enough to leave in a hotel room or on a bus during a fueling stop without worrying about the possibility of it being stolen.
Ultimately, I’d like to have a device with a separable keyboard that could be somehow hung on the seat in front of me. It’d be great to be able to have my keyboard in my lap but have the screen at eye level while working on long flights or bus rides. Perhaps the next device will fulfill that dream.
Until then, I highly recommend the c720 for anyone looking for a cheap, lightweight development machine.