Great Value, Great Price
The Acer Chromebook 14 is a great laptop. I have been using it almost exclusively for a month now. I bought it on sale after doing a lot of research on the ChromeOS and the best Chromebooks. I wanted something that looked good, performs well and meets the needs of a light duty computer.
I am happy to say the Acer Chromebook 14 hits all those marks. Let’s do a rundown of the features and options I really like.
First off, I won’t go deep into the Chrome OS here, that is for another review. So this will focus on just the machine itself.
I was looking for a nice laptop that would just get out of my way and let me do what I want to do. I have had a string of Windows machines that lacked the ability to keep up with me on the road or do what I needed done. I thought I got close with the Dell Inspirion 3162, a small, blue 11″ screen ultraportable. It came close, but I was never really happy with it. The keyboard was too small and the 2GB RAM was not enough to keep up with my demands. I was able to get it for $150, new, so that was good.
So wanting to stay around that price but find something a little more capable I was drawn to the Chromebook it’s light, fast, great battery life, and a small price. But which one to get? I spent a couple of weeks researching the options, of which there are many. I looked at a lot of reviews and started shopping the usual used sites, eBay, Craigslist, etc. I wasn’t really finding anything I liked. I came close to buying a Toshiba Chromebook 2, but was put off by some of the reviews about it’s build quality.
It all comes down to choice
Enter the Acer. I stumbled across a review on PCMag.com that listed the Acer as their new favorite cheap laptop. I like the idea of something with an HD (Full 1080p) screen and an aluminum case. I would never spend the money for a Mac, but I have to admit, I like how they look. The Acer seemed to be the best of both worlds. After much more research, I pulled the trigger. The Chromebook was on sale at my local Best Buy for $269, $30 off it’s normal price, it seemed like a great deal to me. So far I have been right!
Using it in the real world
I started with bringing it to work. My company has a Bring Your Own Device network. Mostly for letting people check their work email on their personal phones without exposing the corporate intranet to outside devices. So integrating a Chromebook for my needs worked well. I spend most my day going from meeting to meeting, taking notes and making presentations. So I don’t have a huge reliance on the internal network files. I can store my OneNote notebook on the cloud and access it through Microsoft’s OneNote Online app. The all day battery life, I usually get about 11 hours, of the Chromebook is perfect for me. No more carrying a laptop and a power cord, needing to sit in the back of the conference room so I can use a plug as the day goes on.
What it gets right
The keyboard is also great. Some reviews complained about the shallow stroke of the keys, I for one like it. I makes for quieter typing while I am taking notes in meetings. I am able to type away without disturbing the proceedings. The keyboard is also spacious. I can’t type for long sessions and not have any issues with my hands cramping, which is something that bothered me with the Dell. In fact I am typing this review on it now. I keep reading other reviews and they always say that, so I figured I should also.
The screen is fantastic, the 1080p really pops and the colors look great. I sometimes will pull super HD videos up on YouTube just to see how good the screen looks. It has a low gloss finish so there is usually no problem with glare. I have not tried this laptop outside yet but I doubt the screen will be any less great. I also do some light photo editing and the clarity of the screen really helps with making those fine adjustments to darker images.
This laptop comes with a mid-range Intel Celeron processor and 4GB RAM. On board is also 32GB of storage. I did buy it new so I also got a free 100GB on Google Drive. 98% of the files I need or use are on a cloud somewhere. So only having the 32GB with me is never a problem. Most other Chromebooks have an SD Card expansion slot, this one does not. It has not been an issue and I don’t think it really will. I am almost never somewhere without access to WiFi.
This laptop also has two USB 3.0 ports, which makes transferring files to a USB stick a snap. When I need to do that, again, not often. It also has a headphone/headset jack that works great with my inline mic headphones. I am able to use Google Hangouts video chat without any issues.
All in all for the money you really can’t go wrong with the Acer Chromebook 14. It is a great form factor, the build is excellent, it looks good and performs great. If you have been thinking about giving ChromeOS a try, this is the laptop to do it with.
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