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Wednesday 13 December 2017
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Acer Chromebook 14 review: You can brag a little about this laptop's luxury details

Acer Chromebook 14 review: You can brag a little about this laptop's luxury details

Chromebooks can be a crap shoot. It’s easy to get sucked in by a low price, only to find yourself with a disappointingly low-quality device on your hands. But you don’t have to step up into the higher-priced territory of the Dell Chromebook 13 or HP Chromebook 13 to find satisfaction. For a midrange price ($286 on Amazon), the Acer Chromebook 14 gives you an all-aluminum chassis and a very nice display, even if its performance and other attributes are less remarkable. 

The Chromebook 14’s best features

Melissa Riofrio

The Chromebook 14 is Acer’s first all-aluminum model, with a brushed finish. 

Acer touts the all-aluminum chassis on the Chromebook 14, and for good reason. Amid a pile of plastic competitors, the brushed-metal shell looks refined and feels great. Of course, the material is also durable and light, making the Chromebook 14 a comfortable 3.42 pounds by Acer’s specification. The AC adapter (the typical black brick) and cables weigh an additional 0.55 pounds. The laptop’s dimensions are a trim 13.3 x 9.31 x 0.67 inches. 

Encased within the lid’s slender bezel is an impressive 14-inch, 1920×1080 LED-backlit IPS display. Chromebooks have a reputation for mediocre screens, with limited brightness and viewing angles. Most have a resolution of just 1366×768, which suffices on an 11-inch display but starts to look ridiculous when stretched over a 14-inch display. The Acer Chromebook 14’s screen looks crisp and has a good maximum brightness (236 nits by our measurement). The 170-degree viewing angle means it’s readable from all sides, and the anti-glare coating is another big plus.

acer chromebook 14 top Melissa Riofrio

The Chromebook 14 has a 1920×1080 IPS display with 170-degree viewing angles. 

A higher-resolution display does use more battery. We logged 8.82 hours of life from the Chromebook 14’s 3-cell, 3950mAh pack, using Cr-XPRT 2015’s benchmark. That’s a good amount of time, though not as long as Acer’s promise of up to 12 hours.

I never expect to like a laptop’s speakers, which is why the Acer Chromebook 14’s deserve mention for being surprisingly good. The dual set, nestled underneath the left and right sides, provide good bass and stereo effects. You might still plug in external headphones, but at least your laptop won’t sound like a cyber-chipmunk if you have to use its speakers for a presentation.

acer chromebook 14 bottom foot speaker Melissa Riofrio

The Acer Chromebook 14 has dual speakers on either side of the bottom panel, with surprisingly good sound. 

You also can’t argue with the Chromebook 14’s connectivity. It has Bluetooth 4.2 for the latest in close-range performance and privacy. Wi-Fi covers every available flavor with dual-band 2×2 MIMO 802.11ac/a/b/g/n.

The more typical features

I don’t mean to seem ungrateful for the Chromebook 14’s good things, but Acer appears to have bet everything on those features, meaning the rest of the Chromebook is less remarkable. Anyone whose expectations were raised by the high-end look may be at least a little disappointed. 

acer chromebook 14 keyboard clickpad Melissa Riofrio

The chiclet-style keyboard on the Acer Chromebook 14 has hard plastic and a harsh travel. There’s also a large clickpad. 

I was particularly unhappy with the keyboard, which has the hard-plastic keys and harsh, abrupt travel typical of entry-level Chromebooks—not what the Chromebook 14 is supposed to be. The large clickpad worked well.