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PaulOBrien

Pick up an Acer Chromebook R11 for £125 to try Play Store on Chrome OS

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PaulOBrien    1,450

Right now, if you want to try out the Play Store on Chrome OS, there are 3 devices you can use to do so. The Asus Chromebook Flip, the Acer Chromebook R11 and the Google Chromebook Pixel 2015. Of the three, I think the Acer is the best bet and right now, you can pick up a factory refurbished unit from Argos for only £124.99 inclusive. I bought one and it looks brand new.

r11bigcrop.png

So why the Acer? Simply because it's a pretty good device and the other two have what I would deem fatal flaws. Now don't get me wrong, the Chromebook Flip in particular is a cool little piece of hardware. It's compact, light and very well made. It does however use a Rockchip ARM processor which isn't the most sprightly and the 10.1" screen can feel cramped. Thankfully the keyboard is a decent size, thanks to the devices large bezels. The real kicker though is the £250 price tag. Even with 4GB RAM, it's just too expensive. Hardware wise, the Chromebook Pixel has everything going for it. But it costs a fortune. No sale.

The Chromebook R11 isn't perfect. It's pretty heavy, it too has chunky bezels and it comes with 'only' 2GB RAM / 16GB storage (realistically, both OK for Chromebooks). But it's very nicely made with a 'Yoga' style hinge and aluminium top plate, it's Celeron 3050 processor offers pretty good performance and at £125, it's a steal. OK, so the 1280x800 looks poor next to modern retina offers, but it's bright, perfectly usable and, of course, touchable. Battery life, as with most Chromebooks, is epic.

Play Store on Chrome OS is currently undergoing ongoing development, so you'll need to switch your machine to the dev channel from the About menu. But when you do, you soon realise what a massive change this is going to be for Chromebooks (and just imagine if Google can somehow shoe-horn this into desktop Chrome!). Word, Excel et al all work fine, as does the Gmail app, as do most apps. It's not perfect, there are bugs, but for a lot of people the implementation will take Chromebooks from the realms of web browsing curios to legitimate primary devices. Seriously.

Screenshot 2016-07-18 at 16.00.55.png

If you want to pick up the R11, head on over to Argos on Ebay quickly before they sell out. If you use TopCashback you'll get £1.31 cashback too, bringing the price down to £123.68. I ordered Sunday and it arrived Monday. Impressive service.

Let us know how you find the experience if you do order!


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wasps    0

I've got mine on order.

Is there any chance that the skyGo android app will work?

I assume we're at the mercy of Sky... Which usually  means that it'll never be released

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PaulOBrien    1,450
On 18/07/2016 at 10:50 PM, wasps said:

I've got mine on order.

Is there any chance that the skyGo android app will work?

I assume we're at the mercy of Sky... Which usually  means that it'll never be released

No idea actually! Would be interesting to know, keep us posted!

P

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dave_a    2

Got mine - great tip Paul. For the price, this is a great for the little un although he hasn't seen it yet! Always wanted to try a chromebook but with android apps coming, decided to wait for chromebooks with more storage etc. until I saw this offer.

Tried the dev channel and Sky go does download and install (so at least it doesn't say it is incompatible like a lot of other apps) but crashes when attempting to start it. But there again the play store app crashes a lot of the time when trying to install something so hopefully when android apps on chromebooks become more stable, there will be hope!

 

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mrrog    8

had mine a few days now, (price has gone up to £135), immaculate condition, nice screen,

 

of course went straight to the dev channel, I find the screen is regularly freezing and getting an error message saying the screen is not 'playing well' with chrome OS, have reset to stable channel, done powerwash and deleted all my extensions, so will see if it continues

 

anybody else experienced this issue?

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mrrog    8
On 14/08/2016 at 7:54 PM, mrrog said:

had mine a few days now, (price has gone up to £135), immaculate condition, nice screen,

 

of course went straight to the dev channel, I find the screen is regularly freezing and getting an error message saying the screen is not 'playing well' with chrome OS, have reset to stable channel, done powerwash and deleted all my extensions, so will see if it continues

 

anybody else experienced this issue?

 

Been playing with this device for 3 weeks now, and had non-stop problems with its stability, on the dev, beta, and stable channels. Based on my experience of this one device, and seeing other people with similar problems around the web, my conclusion is the software/hardware has been badly optimised. Beyond that it is a lovely device for the price, but I’ve sent it back, the constant crashes make it unusable. To get the best out of it I had to use the following fix’s:

 

  1. If your youtube videos keep freezing download extension h264ify, this makes them play in h264 rather than the more resource intensive V9.

  2. If the device keeps crashing/freezing, suspend app sync, see  https://productforums.google.com/forum/m/#!topic/chromebook-central/lHbvPdMOv6U

  3. If you keep getting ‘rats webgl has crashed’, or something like it, go to chrome://flags and turn off hardware decoding (search for ‘decode’ and it will show the relevant flag)

  4. If you keep getting ‘panel is not playing well’ or something like it, go to chrome://flags and enable ‘override software rendering list’. I know this seems contrary to 3. above.

 

My wife has purchased the Asus chromebook flip (£199.99), and compared to the Acer it is a dream, though my personal aesthetic and ergonomic preferences are for the Acer, which also in my opinion hits the sweet spot for screen size. The flip has a nice screen too, and is touch enabled, but has the benefit of 4gb ram and quad core cpu. Here is a link to the best chromebook specs comparison site I came across: http://zipso.net/chromebook-specs-comparison-table/

 

If you are thinking of buying a chromebook for the benefit of android apps then you should probably go with an ARM based cpu, the Asus flip is one of them, my, albeit very limited, technical knowledge leads me to believe most android apps are primarily written for arm chips rather than intel, and having tried ‘darkmeadow’ and ‘horn’ on both the Acer and Asus devices, they run fine on the Asus but just drop out on the Acer. Of course the opposite is true for chrome os apps, I think historically these have been intel devices so there is more compatibility for intel chips.

 

As a positive for the intel chips, if you want to run a linux distro I think this is only possible on the intel devices, which of course means you can run fully fledged non-microsoft office software, and I think, as an added bonus, the PS2 emulator, PCSX2, will run on a linux ubuntu distro.


Personally I find google office apps o.k. for my needs, and certainly better than the microsoft mobile apps, which of course are free on screens <= 10.1” (Asus chromebook flip yes, Acer R11 chromebook no).

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