It will play video fine and the screen is bright and responsive, but you obviously wouldn’t want to use it for anything too intensive.
It’s a Chromebook so just has the Chrome browser available by default. There are a couple of ways to get Linux running on it though. The first way, and the way I’ve been doing it for the past few months is Crouton – https://bicklp.wordpress.com/2014/04/29/c720-chromebook-installing-ubuntu-using-crouton/
This installs LInux on top of Chrome OS. So to run Linux you first boot into Chrome OS, then type a couple of commands in the terminal to start Linux. There are a couple of downsides … first it’s a bit fiddly to start Linux and second it relies on the drivers of Chrome OS. So the network, sound, screen etc are all setup inside Chrome OS, and then your Linux instance just uses those connections. I found that you couldn’t use it as an OpenVPN client because of this. Also I had issues with the sound and screen brightness sometimes conflicting because of the Chrome OS settings.
I also put a new drive in there, to replace the existing 16GB SSD. This was really straight forward and involved the following steps –
- buy a drive, I chose this one – 128GB ZTC Armor 42mm M.2 NGFF 6G SSD Solid State Disk- ZTC-SM201-128G
- remove the screws on the back of the laptop and prise off the back cover
- remove the screw for the drive and replace the drive
- replace the back cover
- use another machine to run the Chromebook Recovery Utility and burn a recovery image to a USB stick
- boot the Chromebook with the USB recovery drive in and install Chrome OS on the new drive
So now you’ve got your nice new drive in it’s time to install Linux, specifically I installed Chrubuntu. Here are some nice instructions – http://www.linux.com/learn/tutorials/764181-how-to-install-linux-on-an-acer-c720-chromebook
For me that installed Ubunutu 14.10, and there were a few issues to sort out. First the touchpad didn’t work. I tried to follow lots of different guides for compiling patches to get it working, but none of them helped. What did resolve it was installing v3.17 of the kernel. This is not as scary as it sounds, the following commands and a reboot should do it –
sudo dpkg -i linux-headers-3.17.0-*.deb linux-image-3.17.0-*.deb
Suspend and slow startup fix
The other issue I had was that there was a 50 second pause when booting, and the laptop would not resume correctly from being suspended. Both these issues seemed to have been resolved by changing the following in the grub config file –
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet add_efi_memmap boot=local noresume noswap i915.modeset=1 tpm_tis.force=1 tpm_tis.interrupts=0 nmi_watchdog=panic,lapic"
More info about this here – https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Talk:Acer_C720_Chromebook
So far so good! It’s only been 24 hours so I’ll report back if I find any other issues. A really nice option for a portable machine at only £200 (plus £55 if you want to upgrade the SSD drive)
The only things I really don’t like is the lack of a delete key (only backspace) and no caps lock key, but that’s the same on all Chromebooks I think.