Acer Chromebook 14
The all-aluminium Chromebook that costs less than 300 bucks.
While I was looking for a replacement for my old and trusty Toshiba Chromebook 2 (it died sadly), the Acer Chromebook 14 caught my eye: An all-aluminium Chromebook that looks really good and on paper is quite snappy. Does that sound too good to be true? Acer proved us that a laptop that costs less than 300 bucks doesn’t need to feel cheap and plasticky, while it certainly is cheap.
The concept of Chromebooks is known by now: Chromebooks run Google’s ChromeOS which only offers the Chrome browser to work with, you do everything online. Because this software is not really resource-intensive most Chromebooks don’t cost that much (there are some big exceptions though). Acer has improved its Chromebooks over the past years, while the pricing remained low. In it’s most expensive configuration, the Acer Chromebook 14 costs about 300 dollar which is not a lot of money for the Full-HD IPS display, all-aluminum build and the claimed battery life of twelve hours.
The first thing I noticed when unboxing this new machine is the superb build quality of this machine. It’s cold to the touch and feels like a laptop that costs at least twice as much: Sturdy and premium. It has some weight to it (1,55 kilograms or 3,44 pounds) but at the other side is pretty slim at 16,95mm which I certainly like, it gives the idea that you’re actually holding a premium machine.
The upper-side of the machine is made out of a brushed aluminum, which I’m not a fan of. The rest of the machine is made out of solid aluminum, the only place where you’ll find plastic is in the hinge.
One thing to watch out for is the sharp edges around the screen: I have cut myself several times because the aluminum is just not really nicely finished.
Personally, I think 14 inch is the perfect size for a laptop. It’s easy to take with me and I can run everything just in native 1080p because the screen is big enough, no scaling down is needed. I like the fact that the screen can lay down completely flat, that doesn’t sound like a big deal but it can come nice and handy in some situations.
One thing the Chromebook 14 falls short on is ports. You just got 4 of them: Two USB 3.0, One HDMI and a headphone jack. No USB-C, that’s regrettable but not the worst: It doesn’t feature an SD-card reader, not even a micro-sd card reader. Most other Acer Chromebooks have a micro-sd slot, so the choice of n0t putting it on the Chromebook 14 is strange.
Keyboard & trackpad.
The keyboards on Chrome-OS devices are a bit different from normal Windows- and MacOS-systems. The function keys are replaced with Chrome-specific keys (which are more useful in my opinion) and where you’d normally find the Caps-Lock key there now is a search button.
The keyboard on the Chromebook 14 is not my favorite part of the machine. The keys are flat and plasticky and don’t have a lot of travel. I think this kind of keyboard is a ‘special feature’ on low-end Acer machines, I never like keyboards on these machines.
The touchpad, on the other side, is pretty good. The surface is big enough and it recognizes multitouch gestures really well.
Acer ships multiple configurations of the Chromebook 14. Cheaper models are equipped with a dual core-Celeron N3060-processor and a 1366×768 display. The model I’m reviewing today is one step up: a 1080p screen with an Intel Celeron N3160 quad-core processor. Another difference with the cheaper model is the amount of storage you get: 16GB vs 32GB.
The Chromebook 14 packs enough power for basic to moderate use (10 tabs open), but don’t expect heavy websites to load quickly and perform smoothly.
The Full-HD IPS panel has a matte finish on it which I really like. Because of this coating colors get a bit less intense but the screen also reflects a lot less. It should be non-reflective as the screen itself has a disappointing maximum brightness. Forget working on this machine in direct sunlight: You won’t be able to see anything on it.
Besides that, the screen is beautiful to look at. It has really nice contrasty colors and good viewing angles.
According to the sticker on the machine itself, you should be able to get 12 hours of use out of this machine. I personally didn’t get anywhere near that number, but it still is decent: I got about 9 hours of screen on time when browsing.
The Chromebook 14 isn’t the first Chromebook Acer has ever built, but I think it’s one of the best they ever built. I really, really like the aluminum chassis of the device. Along with the nice-looking display, I think it’s one of the best Chromebooks money can buy. It’s sad that this machine doesn’t have USB-C and lacks an SD-card reader, but those are no real deal-breaker to me. Is it worth your 300 bucks? No doubt about it!
Find the Acer Chromebook 14 here (Amazon).
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