Acer Chromebook 14 review: Brushed aluminum and a big display make it special

For a little more money than the average Chromebook, you get a few premium features that improve the overall experience.

The world doesn’t need another cheap, plastic $200 Chromebook, but the world does need alternatives like Acer’s Chromebook 14, which offers a few better features for just a little more money.

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The Acer Chromebook 14 costs $299—a little more than most Chromebooks, but look what you get: a brushed-aluminum chassis that’s beautiful, sturdy, and lightweight. And check out the display: It’s a high-resolution 1920x1080, with wide viewing angles and a low-glare finish.

These are luxury items you don’t expect on a $299 laptop, and they make the Chromebook 14 something you can show off a bit, and enjoy using more. Even the speakers are better than typical for a notebook at this price, and the battery lasted a good 8.82 hours in our test.

Acer seems to have bet everything on these few premium features, though, because almost everything else about the Chromebook 14 is just average. In our benchmarks, its Celeron N3160 chip performed reasonably well in mainstream tasks, but it’s not powerful enough for gaming or graphics-intensive applications.

The keyboard has hard-plastic keys and a harsh travel, and that’s another other big giveaway that this isn’t quite a high-end machine.

And what the hell!—Acer took away the SD card slot that’s practically standard on Chromebooks, leaving us with just a couple of USB 3.0 ports and HDMI. Maybe this is like the slow death of the floppy drive, but I’m still unhappy about it.

Acer built a better Chromebook with the Chromebook 14. It’s not perfect, but it’s worth the slightly higher price to get a better overall experience.