Acer Chromebook 714 review: So close to greatness
When Acer unveiled the Chromebook 714 earlier this year, the company positioned the laptop as a business-oriented option. That said, how well does it hold up in the consumer world, and is it worth picking up for those not in business? Welcome to our review of the Acer Chromebook 714.
What is the Acer Chromebook 714?
The Acer Chromebook 714 is one of the company’s latest Chrome OS-powered laptops. Most of your experience is handled through the Google Chrome browser, though the Google Play Store lets you dabble with Android apps. You can’t download programs like you can on Windows and MacOS, but Chrome OS is relatively more secure.
The configuration I reviewed featured a 14-inch Full HD IPS touch display, an Intel Core i3-8130U processor, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, 64GB of storage, and a 56Wh battery. Other configurations include a dual-core Pentium 4417U, quad-core Core i5-8250U, or quad-core Core i5-8350U processor.
In terms of ports, the Chromebook 714 features two USB-C ports, one USB Type-A port, a headphone jack, a microSD card slot, and a Kensington lock. Open the Chromebook 714 and you have a full-size keyboard, a large trackpad, and a slim fingerprint scanner.
The Chromebook 714’s mostly-aluminum build lends it some durability points. For example, it’s rated MIL-STD 810G, which means it can withstand up to 48-inch drops and up to 132 pounds of downward force. It’s nice to know I don’t have to worry about abusing the laptop, even though I still babied the thing during my time with it.
What I like about the Acer Chromebook 714
There’s plenty to like about the Chromebook 714:
Performance: For context, I used the Chromebook 714 as my primary work machine. I usually had between 15 and 20 tabs open at any given time, with YouTube and Spotify sometimes in the background throughout the day. Even with this workload, the Chromebook 714’s Core i3 processor and 8GB of RAM had no issue keeping up.
Long-lasting battery: Acer rates the battery for up to 12 hours of use. While I didn’t get that far with the Chromebook 714, it lasted me from 9:00am to 5:30pm every day with a 20% charge still in the tank. Another hour of lighter usage checking my emails, going through Reddit, and wedding prep drained the remaining bit of battery. If battery anxiety is something you get, you can relax with this laptop.
Great build quality: I absolutely loved the aluminum build of the Chromebook 714. The minimal design and darker aluminum give it a professional look. The keyboard deck barely flexed, the hinge let me open the laptop with one finger, and there were no signs of fingerprints.
Trackpad: Even with the slight rattling, I’d argue the Chromebook 714’s trackpad is the best on a Chromebook. The Gorilla Glass-covered surface meant my fingers glided across it. It also meant the trackpad was responsive to all of the supported gestures, which include pinch-to-zoom, two-finger scrolling, a three-finger swipe up to show all windows, and a two-finger swipe to the left and right to go back and forward, respectively. The large size only seals the deal.
What I don’t like about the Acer Chromebook 714
Display: I didn’t have an issue with the Full HD resolution of the display. However, the display was too dim for my liking, even for a display with a matte texture. Because I work near a window, I had to crank up the brightness to see what was on the screen. Also, viewing angles were unimpressive.
Keyboard: Even though I appreciate the backlighting, the keyboard was a bit on the mushy side. More glaring was an issue with the space bar, which often times didn’t register a press. Seeing how I type on a keyboard for a living, I couldn’t help but tear my hair out whenever the space bar didn’t work.
Fingerprint scanner: The fingerprint scanner was fast and reliable when I used it with certain apps and the laptop itself when waking from sleep mode. Unfortunately, it didn’t work on a cold boot. Instead, I had to enter my password whenever I booted the Chromebook 714 from off.
Speakers: I’m sorry to disappoint. but the Chromebook 714 doesn’t deliver the best sound. At around 60% volume, the speakers sounded tinny and completely lacked bass. At higher volumes, the sound took on a sharp nature and it felt as if someone was stabbing the inner parts of my ears. You’re better off using a Bluetooth speaker or headphones.
What about the Acer Chromebook 315?
The Acer Chromebook 315 is the Chromebook 714’s larger, cheaper cousin. It’s notable for being one of the first Chromebooks with an AMD processor, but it’s generally nice to see a Chromebook with a 15.6-inch display. Unfortunately, it’s not nice to use the Chromebook 315.
Where do I even start? The display bezels reminded me of 10-year-old laptops, the 15.6-inch Full HD display itself was dim with washed-out colors, the keyboard was mushy and shallow, and the space bar often didn’t register a press.
The biggest issue was performance. The Chromebook 315 configuration featured the dual-core AMD A4-9120C processor, 4GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage. Simply put, there wasn’t enough horsepower to keep up with my daily workflow.
The Acer Chromebook 315 is decent, but there are better options for less.
It wasn’t all bad. The trackpad was responsive and recognized all of the gestures, the battery lasted me all day, the $299.99 price tag for this configuration is tempting, and the 3.97-pound weight makes the Chromebook 315 surprisingly light for a laptop its size.
I readily admit I’m not the target audience for the Chromebook 315. If you stick to less-demanding tasks and don’t want to spend too much money, the $299 Chromebook 315 is a decent buy. Just remember there are better options for less, such as the excellent Lenovo Chromebook C330.
Should you buy the Acer Chromebook 714?
There are plenty of affordable Chromebooks available, and that’s not a bad thing. With price points ranging from $499.99 to $799.99, the Chromebook 714 isn’t for those who are buying on a budget.
Rather, the Chromebook 714 is a compelling purchase for Chrome OS fans who want a machine with high-end materials and powerful internals.
At the same time, those going into the Chromebook 714 need to temper expectations, primarily with respect to the display and keyboard. The ho-hum display and mushy keys with the flaky space bar prevent what is a good laptop from being a great laptop.