Acer Cloudbook. Ignore the 16 GB version. (And it’s not a Chromebook competitor.)

Posted on 04 August 2015, Last updated on 26 January 2020 by

Please, if you are looking at low-cost laptops and reading articles today that say the new Acer Aspire One Cloudbook is a Chromebook competitor, or worse, uses the K word, think again. It’s not. A stream of articles published after the launch of the Acer Cloudbook today will have you believe that price is the way to compare between the two laptop segments but they are wrong because even at the same price, the Cloudbook is nothing like a Chromebook. Even if you ignore he Chromebook comparisons there’s another issue. The 16 GB Cloudbook is not exactly going to be barrier-free with Windows.

Aspire One Cloudbook AO1-131 (14-inch)

Aspire One Cloudbook AO1-131 (14-inch)

I’m not a fan of what’s happening in the sub-$200 laptop segment right now because too many corners are being cut and customers are ending up with a disappointing experience. In the case of the new Acer Cloudbook 11 I believe Acer have gone a step too far. This Windows 10 laptop with 11.6-inch screen costs $169 has just 16 GB of storage which isn’t enough for long-term use of an operating system that isn’t ‘cloud’ focused.

It’s enough of a challenge to work with a Windows PC  that has 32 GB of storage but I draw the line at 16 GB because it will require users to refrain from installing large applications and storing a large number of documents or videos without having an SD card.  Whatever you do, don’t try to synchronize Microsoft OneDrive with the laptop because it doesn’t work like Windows 8.1 or Chromebooks. The side-effect, ironically, is that you won’t get visibility of the cloud-based OneDrive storage in the File Manager. (Tip: You can move OneDrive offline storage to an SD card.)

You’ll also need to learn how to use the drive cleaning tools in Windows 10.

What Acer have done by trying to shave $30 off the price is to make a Windows laptop harder to manage than before and moves it further away from what a Chromebook offers. I’m writing this article on a Chromebook for a very simple reason – I needed to get to work on this article quickly and I knew that the Chromebook would be the one laptop here that would start quickly with no unexpected updates or storage issues. If it doesn’t I can fully reset it in 60 seconds.

Creating a poor user experience for new laptop owners is exactly the sort of thing that will turn users away from Windows 10 to look for a more simple solution and that will either be an iPad, Android tablet or Chromebook so Acer, even if you are just doing this for the headlines and don’t actually plan to ship many 16 GB Cloudbooks you’re still creating expectations that can’t be fulfilled. Given that your 32 GB E11 / ES1 comes is also $159.99 (and offers a bigger battery and a Gigabit Ethernet port), why did you even bother? It would have been better to offer this at $149 with a tailored Linux in my opinion.

Ignoring the 16 GB Windows model then, here are the specs for the Acer Aspire One Cloudbook 11 (32GB, $190 US price) which could turn out to be a great low-cost Windows laptop.

  • Screen: 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 TFT
  • Processor: Intel Celeron N3050 Dual-Core (1.6 GHz with Turbo Boost up to 2.16 GHz)
  • Operating system: Windows 10 (and one year Office 365 / 1TB OneDrive. Note: 16GB models only get a 100GB OneDrive storage voucher.)
  • RAM: 2GB DDR3L
  • Storage: 32GB (before OS install.)
  • Ports: 1x HDMI, 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x SD Card. (No Ethernet port)
  • WiFi AC dual-band, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Array mic, 480p webcam.
  • Weight; 2.54lbs (1.15kg)
  • Battery capacity: 30Wh (Calculated. Acer state 2-cell 4200 mAh)

The Acer E11 / ES1 was an interesting low-cost laptop as it was easy to open and you could upgrade the RAM and WiFi. Unfortunately there were problems with the touchpad. We’ll have to wait and see how the Cloudbook compares when it becomes available later this month but if we ignore the 16 GB version, the 32GB version could be a good buy. AC WiFi is a must-have as we move towards 2016.

Outstanding questions

  • Does it have a full-length SD card slot (for permanent use.)
  • Is there a TPM module (for Bitlocker encryption)
  • Is the RAM upgradable?
  • Is there a SATA header inside?
  • Will Linux builds install without a problem? (Making the 16 GB version interesting.)

Related: I have updated my Acer E11 ES1-111M to Windows 10.

Press release: Acer

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