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Hands-on with the Acer 317, the world's first 17-inch Chromebook
Acer is targeting mobile professionals and families alike with the Chromebook 317, the first Chromebook to feature a 17.3-inch display. Acer believes the Chromebook 317 is ideal for multitaskers, hybrid workers, and parents with kids — all due to the extra-large canvas it affords for getting things done.
This monster machine offers more than just a big screen. Find out what the device is like in our early Acer Chromebook 317 hands-on.
The Acer Chromebook 317 comes in myriad configurations, perhaps too many. While we like options, we also wish some features were standard.
Related: The best Chromebooks you can get
Let’s start with the screen. All display versions measure 17.3 inches and come with Full HD resolution in a 16:9 aspect ratio. You can opt for a touchscreen or not if you want to save some cash.
Thanks to the vast amount of real estate afforded by the massive display, the full-sized keyboard includes a dedicated 10-digit numeric keypad. A backlight for the keyboard is optional.
You have your choice of processors. The top machine is powered by an Intel Pentium Silver N6000 processor, while the mid-range model touts an Intel Celeron N5100 processor, and the entry-level variant comes with a Celeron N4500 processor. All three are supported by Intel UHD graphics. Models come with 4GB or 8GB of LPDDR4 RAM, and there are two eMMC storage options: 64GB and 128GB.
If you expect to participate in a lot of video calls, you’ll need to spring extra for the Full HD video camera, which has a wide 82-degree field of view. Also optional? A dual-digital microphone array to make your voice extra dreamy during video calls. A single mic is standard.
Other standard features include upward-facing stereo speakers, Wi-Fi 6, and a host of ports, including two USB-C and two USB-A ports, a combo headphone/microphone jack, and a microSD card slot.
It comes in silver.
But what’s it like?!
In a word, massive. Like most 17-inch laptops I’ve encountered, the Acer Chromebook 317 really floors you with its sheer size. It measures a backpack-stretching 401.2 x 267.1 x 22.5mm and weighs in at a back-straining 2.35kg. It utterly dwarfs the 13- and 15-inch Chromebooks I have in my office, such as the Acer Spin 311. This isn’t something you carry around without some commitment.
See also: The best budget Chromebooks
The screen is impressive due to its size, but I’ve seen much higher quality displays in my day. Stretching 1,920 x 1,080 pixels across a panel this big means you’ve got a screen that isn’t as sharp as it could be. I noticed jagged edges on text and full-screen movie trailers didn’t wow me in the way I hoped they would. Brightness was good, however, and aspects such as color were spot on. It’s a huge workspace, which means running multiple windows side by side doesn’t leave you feeling cramped. Thankfully, Acer kept the bezels respectably thin. It doesn’t have an all-screen look, but you’re not saddled with overly thick framing around the screen, either.
The keyboard and trackpad work well. I’m not used to this much space on a laptop. The full-sized keyboard feels good. Its keys rise out of the deck and have a comfortable shape to them. Travel and feedback are solid, and I found typing on the keyboard came naturally. The addition of the numeric keypad should help those who do a lot of number-centric data entry, but I wish the arrow keys were a bit bigger. The trackpad is enormous. It is covered by glass and quick and accurate, which is what I want from a trackpad.
In my short time with the Acer Chromebook 317, I came away impressed with the stereo speakers. I blasted some music and some movie trailers and was pleased with the sound.
I’m satisfied with the ports. There’s a USB-C and USB-A port on each side of the machine. The combo jack and microSD card reader are on the left, while the Kensington lock is on the right. Of note, there’s no power button nor volume toggle on any of the side edges. You’ll have to use the keyboard controls for managing volume — the 317 boots or wakes when you open the lid.
Is the Acer Chromebook 317 worth it?
Acer hasn’t provided us with a complete breakdown of all the prices for the various configurations. What we know is this.
The Acer Chromebook 317 model CB317-1H comes with a non-touchscreen, the Intel Celeron N4500 processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, and a single microphone for $379/€399. That’s a fair starting price, given the absolute enormity of this machine and the workspace it provides. It’s hard to know just how pricey the Chromebook gets without knowing the cost of items such as the webcam, dual-mic setup, or backlit keyboard.
More reading: The best Acer Chromebook for your needs and budget
The major selling point of the 317 is clearly the large screen and productivity-boosting powers it bestows on the end-user. If you’ve been longing for a 17-inch Chromebook, now you’ve got one to lust after.
The Acer Chromebook 317 goes on sale in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia in June.
Alongside the Chromebook 317, Acer announced five other Chromebooks aimed at all types of budgets. Read more about those here.