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Hands-on Gear Review
Acer 14 Review
Price: $300 List | $261.86 at Amazon
Pros: Fast web browsing, large screen, great keyboard and trackpad, nice metal body
Cons: Larger size somewhat less portable than other models
Bottom line: A perfect choice if productivity or movie watching is a priority, and you don’t mind carrying around a machine that is the same size as a traditional laptop
The Acer 14 is a serious workhorse that offers a phenomenal user experience. It starts with a solid aluminum body that makes it feel like a legitimate productivity tool. The large 14 inch screen means no squinting required, and its full 1080p resolution provides a borderline cinematic experience if you want to throw your feet up and stream some Netflix for a while. The full sized keyboard and large, responsive trackpad are pleasant to use and allow you to focus on the task at hand. On the inside, 4GB of RAM provides fast, glitch free browsing, even if you're vying for the all time record for number of tabs open at once. The Acer 14's only downside: portability. It is the same size as most traditional laptops, so you're not getting the ultra small form factor of some other Chromebooks. This machine is perfect for someone who wants a full sized Chromebook that won't get in the way of productivity, and can function as a pretty nice movie machine when some rest and relaxation is on the docket.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Chromebooks of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
With 4GB of RAM and an Intel Celeron Quad-Core processor, the Acer 14 was able to deliver the best web browsing performance in our tests. It shared the top score of 9 in this metric, putting it well ahead of the bottom score of 3. It stood up phenomenally to our everyday use test. Google Sheets windows were usually the first place we would notice any sort of lagginess in our testing, with switching between sheets and copying formulas across cells taking on noticable delays. The Acer 14 allowed us to quickly and easily navigate through Google Sheets, even with multiple other tabs open and high definition Youtube videos streaming in the background. During our testing it was so difficult to induce any kind of lagginess or glitches in the Acer 14 that in nearly felt like using a full fledged laptop. This meant that when our testers used the Acer 14 for a full length workday they noticed no limitations. Tabs could be opened and put aside for later without affecting speed, and background music could be streamed from whatever service they preferred without hogging all the RAM. In fact, right as I type this I'm using the Acer 14 to write and peruse our Chromebooks scoring spreadsheets, all whilst being serenaded by the dulcet tones of a full HD Justin Timberlake music video, and not noticing even an ounce of lag. The battery also made it through our full workday of use test with no problem whatsoever, and its advertised 12 hour battery life is one of the longest amongst the models that we tested. In fact, one of our testers used the Acer for a full day of work, then took it home and did some Netflix streaming, all on a single charge. On top of all this, the Acer 14 offers 32GB of onboard storage, which is double that of most other Chromebooks. This means you can be less selective in which Google documents to save to your hard drive for offline editing before a flight, and lends the freedom to download some movies to get you through the eight hour leg from New York to Geneva. In our opinion, you'd be hard pressed to find better performance out of a Chromebook.
This is where the Acer 14 really separated itself from the other high performing models we tested. It again scored a 9 in this metric, which saw scores as low as 5. The large keyboard lends an almost desktop level typing experience and definitely won't fatigue your typing muscles, even during the most furious of email sessions. The key themselves were responsive and smooth, even for the speed demon typers amongst our testers. It also has the largest and one of the most responsive trackpads of any of the models we tested, with a smooth and pleasant clicking action. This meant it was by far our favorite model for scrolling, clicking around in spreadsheets, and copy and paste jobs. Bottom line, laptops in general and small Chromebooks especially can feel limiting because they don't provide the desktop style interface of a full sized keyboard and mouse. The Acer 14 goes farther in erasing these limitations than any of the other models we tested, and thus feels like the machine for people who plan on getting work done on their Chromebook.
Here again, the Acer 14 was dominate in our testing, sharing the top score of 9. This put it well ahead of the low score of 5. At 14 inches the Acer 14 has the biggest screens of all the models we tested. That alone makes it a nice screen to look at, especially for extended periods of time. On top of that it was one of the few models our test that offered full 1080p high definition resolution. Additionally, we were incredibly impressed with the accuracy and quality of the colors it produced. Movies looked as rich and vibrant as on the oft-heralded display of the Macbook Pro. This made watching movies on the Acer 14 an absolute delight. Throw in a pair of nice headphones, dim the lights, and it's a borderline cinematic experience. We can vouch that watching Goose tragically die in Top Gun on the Acer 14 elicited just as many emotions as watching it happen on a big screen (spoiler alert).
Portability is the only place the Acer 14 asks you to make some sacrifices. It earned the worst score of 5 in this metric, putting it significantly behind the top score of 10. This certainly is not a cumbersome machine to carry around. But it is the same size and, at 3.4 pounds, about the same weight as an average traditional laptop. If you plan on toting this machine along on a plane or to a coffee shop, you would probably appreciate having a backpack or bag with a dedicated laptop sleeve. On the plus side the Acer 14's solid metal body lent confidence that it wouldn't be damaged when shoved into an overstuffed bag, or dropped it into a TSA bin. While the larger size is a clear drawback when compared to some of the smaller, super portable Chromebooks, it is the price you inevitably must pay for a big screen, full sized keyboard, and a large trackpad (which ended up being some of our favorite attributes of this machine).
At a list price of $300, the Acer 14 is slightly above the average price of the Chromebooks we tested. Considering its increased performance and usability, this is a great value if you're looking for a streamlined secondary machine that lets you be productive when you're traveling, or want one that won't put a damper on your movie watching experience. If you're looking for a primary machine, $300 is enough to get you a low end traditional laptop with a bit more versatility, which might be a better value in that situation.
The Acer 14 was the best performing, most usable, and nicest to look at model throughout all of our testing. It is the perfect choice if you want a Chromebook that doesn't stifle productivity and provides a top notch movie watching experience.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata
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