The Acer Chromebook 14 is a budget laptop that features one of ChromeOS’s most encouraging updates to date. It doesn’t hurt that it looks like a MacBook Air and performs well beyond its humble specs sheet.
When I first put my fingers on Acer’s 14-inch Chromebook, I was surprised at how well constructed it is. Given its sub-$270 price tag, I was expecting a plastic laptop with faux aluminum shell.
What I got was an entire laptop built on aluminum alloy with a brilliant matte 14-inch full HD IPS display, a comfortable keyboard, and 12 hours of battery life.
After spending some time with the Chromebook 14, I’m convinced now more than ever that Chromebooks shouldn’t be so easily dismissed as cheap throwaways.
In fact, my experience with it leaves me wondering if the Chromebook could replace my daily laptop for productive tasks outright.
ChromeOS – Now with Android Apps
The version of ChromeOS that ships with the Chromebook 14 is unremarkable, but where the real draw of this particular laptop lives is in its beta channel.
By switching to the beta channel of Chrome OS (a simple process), you gain access not only to the Chrome browser and its many plugins, but to hundreds of thousands of Android apps.
This enables you to browse the Web while running a Twitter app, playing Hearthstone, and chatting through Slack. This makes the Chromebook a full-featured desktop OS.
I did notice that in some apps, they would freeze or pause when I’d switch to a different window only to resume upon bringing them back to the forefront. This is a typical Android behavior and one I hope will change as development continues.
Hardware – Exceptional Value
Where the Chromebook 14 shows its Acer chops is in its value for the dollar. It’s a budget laptop that is built like a premium product. The aluminum housing and overall design reminds me greatly of a MacBook Air.
If it weren’t for Acer’s logo and the Chrome badge on the lid, you would be forgiven for mistaking it for one.
The keyboard feels mushy and comfortable to type on, but it doesn’t have the snap and tactile response of higher-quality keyboards.
A Pentium Celeron processor is a low-powered option, especially when compared to Google’s flagship Pixelbook. However, considering just how little this laptop needs to run Chrome and any Android apps, it doesn’t feel underpowered.
4GB of RAM is sufficient. There are times when I find myself having to close tabs when running Netflix in addition to one or two other high-demand tabs or apps.
In terms of storage, 32GB is more than enough considering the emphasis on cloud storage that comes with ChromeOS.
Experience – The Only Thing that Matters
Hardware aside, the experience of using the Chromebook 14 is very good. You don’t get a touch screen or any of the fancy features that come with pricier options, but what you do get is a solid user experience from stem to stern.
The laptop is peppy. Its bottom-shooting stereo speakers sound surprisingly good, and the display is bright and clear enough to make Netflix and text look stunning.
Is the Chromebook 14 going to replace your desktop PC? Absolutely not, but it is the perfect solution for sofa browsing and moderate web-based tasks. A blogger could get by using only the Chromebook but a professional video editor would find using it impossible.
Ideally, the audience for this particular device sits between the enthusiast looking for an extra laptop and the tech apathetic looking for a tool to browse the Web and check email with.
Over all, the Chromebook 14 is an exceptional value. Its luxury design and handsome array of features makes it an excellent budget option.