Review Of The Acer C720-3605 Chromebook

Last summer (2014) I picked up a Asus C720-2802 Chromebook and posted a review on

I recently updated to a newer version (same form factor) -- the Acer C720-3605.  I had originally ordered the Acer C720-3404  (which is the Canadian version), but ended up with the U.S. version: C720-3605.  They appear at least on the specification pages on Acer to be exactly the same other than model number (PDF spec analysis). I might have missed something so if there is a difference then please let me know.

The main reasons for upgrading:

  1. Improved Performance (faster processor with dual-core)
  2. Additional RAM (4-GB vs. 2-GBs)
  3. Better HDMI output (for hooking up to a large monitor @ my home desk).
  4. More Local Storage (32-GBs vs. 16-GBs -- excellent for watching more digital content)
  5. Needed a another computer @home for my daughter to use

Here are some stats using Octane 2.0 test:


While I wasn't having any real performance issues with the 2802-series, I've found that I can experience the difference in browsing and streaming media with the 3605-series.  The hardware updates are definitely an improvement in real world usage from my perspective.

All-in-all I have been very happy with Chrome OS and these two Chromebooks (the old one is now my daughter's main system).  For me the key selling points: great battery (more than 8 hours); excellent small form factor; responsive & comfortable keyboard; integration with Google services; and the simple OS updates & patches.

I look forward to using it again as my main note taking system for DEFCON 23.

 You can order your own via this Amazon Acer C720-3605 link or this Amazon Acer C720-3404 link.  Prices seem to be all over the board so make sure you are comfortable with ordering the right model number at the right price.

Review - Asus C720-2802 Chromebook

I recently picked up via Craigslist a "new in the box" Asus C720-2802 Chromebook to use as my new primary system for  The main reason was that DEFCON22 is coming up soon in Las Vegas and I needed a "relatively" secure system to attend sessions and take notes for ~8 hours a day.  


My previous note taking system was relatively old ThinkPad that I had 3 sets of extra batteries for. So, I dropped about 6 pounds by moving to the C720.  And I don't have to configure a fresh system to take to DEFCON and then scrub after.

This version (2802) seems like the middle build release (~Feb2014) from the original that was in late 2013 and the most current $199 version that uses the Intel Celeron 2955U processor (2848).  There is also a newer more expensive C720 with an Intel Core i3 processor available.

The positivies:

  1. Keyboard is great.
  2. Integration with my Google account was flawless.
  3. Integration with all my core online services was flawless.
  4. Working offline seems to work as expected.

The negatives:

  1. Can't seem to check IMAP email with an extension or a native Chrome application.

The still to be determined:

  1. Will it get hacked at DEFCON?
  2. How to edit audio?
  3. Will it let me take notes all day at DEFCON?

POST DEFCON REPORT: There is now an IMAP client - CloudMagic.  I am pretty sure I didn't get hacked at DEFCON.  I was able to take notes all day long at DEFCON without any issues.  I have not found a good solution for editing audio.

Solar Power Review - Keeping Your Tech Powered While Camping

I recently picked up from Harbor Freight Tools the following solar power kit: 45W Solar Power Kit (#68751) for just over $150 (including tax).


Over the course of the last couple of months I've been able to try out the kit on several camping trips were there was no easy electrical grid access.  The camping environment was pretty sunny but not always 100% full sun.  The time of year for all the trips was summer and the location was Southern California.  I ended up setting up the kit on the top of our small camper.

The main reason I picked up the kit was to keep all of my tech gear charged so I could keep tabs on email, news, and any tech issue with my sites.  This was usually less than 1 hour a day which worked out well for my needs, and expectations related to being on a camping trip.

The gear I was able to keep operational using the kit included: cell phone, tablet, WIFI card, and a laptop during trips lasting up to 7 days.

I was suprised during the main daylight hours that the inverter could charge directly: the cell phone, tablet, and WIFI card.  To keep my laptop charged I needed to capture to an emergency car battery system, and then use 3rd party car charger/inverter to get the right power levels to keep the laptop charged.  I was also able to keep charged a USB battery pack so I could run my WIFI card during non-daylight hours when needed.

One other lesson learned, was to turn off all electronics while sleeping.  This helped keep all the devices more readily available the next day then keeping them in standby/sleep mode overnight.

All in all the system worked very well and I'd recommend it.

Updated: 3/16/2014

Updates from Twitter - iPad, DEFCON 19, Podcasts, Mobile, Amazon, Etc

The following items were recently posted on @technewsradio:

  • USB hub allows simultaneous syncing of 49 iPads
  • DEFCON 19 Podcast Review #security #news #research #hacker #conference
  • gets about 1000 new programs every day & they are looking for curators of categories to make the content more organized
  • BigBlueButton is a open source collaboration and training system that integrates a bunch of open source projects  
  • PC World has more details on the recent news from Qualcomm about their planned updated Snapdragon mobile processor  
  • YouTube has a great overview presentation on how "Prezi for iPad" works  
  • Amazon EC2 is now supporting Virtual Machine (VM) Import to Amazon EC2 instances  
  • IObit has announced a freeware version of Game Booster v2 for Windows that is geared for improving game performance  
  • Via ... you can get e-signatures features via DocuSign services integrated with documents stored on  
  • Getting started with project management? - "scope, time & "cost" - a good reference at Wikipedia  
  • "Heroes of the Computer Revolution" original book looked at hackers & nerds from the late 1950s to the early 1980s   
  • - a graph visualization library using web workers and jQuery

This Week's Tech Podcasts Worth A Listen

Tech-podcasts-01 Here is a pointer to some recent technology related podcasts that might be of interest:

If you have a suggestion or a link to a good technology podcast to let others know about then drop us an email, message @technewsradio, or leave a comment below.

@technewsradio Roundup Posts for May 7th, 2011

The following is a summary of @technewsradio posts to Twitter:

  1. ASIS Bookstore (security pro organization) has announced over 26 new books via their online store
  2. SWFTools is a collection of open source utilities for working with Adobe Flash files (SWF files)
  3. Amazon online cloud services has a bunch of demos available - including Travel Log (Sample Java Web Application)
  4. Google has fixed a SketchUp 8 "dreaded shadow bug"
  5. Franklin Covey's PlanPlus for Outlook (version 7) is now on sale for $80 (vice $100) 
  6. Looking for a open source mind mapping tool?  Then check out Free Mind
  7. Microsoft Press has announced 3 more books in their Step By Step series: Microsoft Word 2010, Excel 2010 & Project 2010 
  8. has an interesting article "Wired—Geek Power: Steven Levy Revisits Tech Titans, Hackers, Idealists"
  9. Listening to "A Witness to a the Egyptian Revolution" by Doug Kaye (Executive Director, The Conversations Network) via
  10. Per Kevin Devin at - A good tool for finding Creative Commons (CC) images on Flickr is here
  11. the Microsoft & Nokia deal seems to leave HP WebOS, BlackBerry, and Intel out of the loop with Apple (#2) & Android (#1) being top dogsDelete
  12. red5 is an open source audio/video (FLV & MP3) server that also supports H.264 
  13. Steven Levy's classic "Heroes of the Computer Revolution" has a new 25th Anniversary Edition

TECH NEWS RADIO PODCAST #370 | 2010-07-14 | Portable Audio Recording & Podcast Distribution

 Listen! (Size 4.1 MBs, Running Time 4m05s)

Today's podcast examines portable audio recording options and some podcast production and distribution technologies.  Links mentioned in this podcast include:

Feel free to follow along with Steve Holden at: TwitterFriendFeed, and/or Delicious.  For tech news only updates follow TechNewsRadio on Twitter.

This podcast is sponsored by SCOTTEVEST and Amazon.

TECH NEWS RADIO PODCAST #368 | 2010-07-12 | Apple iPad Review & Book Pointer

 Listen! (Size 3.8 MBs, Running Time 3m48s)

Today's podcast is a quick review of the Apple iPad and a pointer to a new book "iPad: The Missing Manual" [ISBN: 978-1-4493-8784-6] by J.D Biersdorfer with David Pogue. Links mentioned in this podcast include:

Feel free to follow along with Steve Holden at: TwitterFriendFeed, and/or Delicious.  For tech news only updates follow TechNewsRadio on Twitter.

This podcast is sponsored by SCOTTEVEST and Amazon.

TECH NEWS RADIO PODCAST #366 | 2010-07-08 | Web & Wireless Security

 Listen! (Size 2.6 MBs, Running Time 2m33s)

Today's podcast covers two quick pointers to some information security related news.

First up, Dan Goodin based out of San Francisco recently wrote an interesting article entitled "Google tutorial lets developers play malicious hacker" for the UK's The Register

And our second item is from Bruce Schneier's CRYPTO-GRAM newsletter for May 15, 2010 with a reference to a Network World article entitled "WIFI cracking kits being built in China.".

Feel free to follow along with Steve Holden at: TwitterFriendFeed, and/or Delicious.  For tech news only updates follow TechNewsRadio on Twitter.

This podcast is sponsored by SCOTTEVEST and Amazon.

TECH NEWS RADIO PODCAST #364 | 2010-07-06 | Having Fun With Your Apple iPad

 Listen! (Size 4.0 MBs, Running Time 3m58s)

Today's podcast is a pointer to an O'Reilly webcast entitled "Five Ways The iPad Can Entertain You" with J.D. Biersdorfer the author of the book "iPad: The Missing Manual." The webcast is going to focus on: Books,  Photos, Movies, Music, and Maps; plus offer time for Q&A.  The webcast is currently scheduled for 10 - 11 am on Friday, June 9, 2010. You can sign up via: REGISTER >

We also play a short promo for Chuck Tomasi and Kreg Stepp's companion podcast called "Teach Yourself WordPress in 10 Minutes ... in 10 Minutes" that is a great supplement to their book "Teach Yourself WordPress in 10 Minutes".

Feel free to follow along with Steve Holden at: TwitterFriendFeed, and/or Delicious.  For tech news only updates follow TechNewsRadio on Twitter.

This podcast is sponsored by SCOTTEVEST and Amazon.