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Acer Chromebook 514 review: Stylish, but limited

Acer Chromebook 514 assessment: Trendy, however restricted

Whereas it’s true to say that Chromebooks are available all styles and sizes, the overwhelming majority of them are small and low cost. Sure, there’s Google’s premium Pixelbook, which positively doesn’t match that description, however for probably the most half, you already know exactly what you’re getting in your cash.

The Acer Chromebook 514 tries to discover a hole between the Pixelbook and the dirt-cheap Chromebooks vying for the sub-£300 market, however is that only a recipe for invisibility?

Acer Chromebook 514 assessment: What you have to know

With that in thoughts, Acer has tried to provide you with a trendy, feature-packed Chromebook that gained’t break the financial institution. How does it sq. that circle? By pitting middling innards (a 1.1GHz dual-core Intel Celeron N3350 and 4GB RAM) with elegant appears to be like and good extras. You’ve received a 14in 1080p touchscreen, a metallic body, a Gorilla Glass-topped touchpad and backlit keys, making it look outwardly extra MacBook than Chromebook.

The gamble Acer is making is that ChromeOS’ extra restricted performance means you gained’t discover the three-year-old chip operating the present. And in most use instances, it’s most likely appropriate.

Acer Chromebook 514 assessment: Value and competitors

For that, Acer is asking for £350, though it additionally sells a barely improved model with an Intel Pentium N200 processor as an alternative of the Celeron for £20 extra.

Chances are you’ll balk at that value contemplating the ageing processor, and I do not blame you if you happen to’re already proud of Home windows 10. In that value bracket, you’ll be able to positively get extra energy, particularly if you happen to’re ready to offer AMD Ryzen-powered units a spin. This £350 2.5GHz Ryzen three laptop computer from HP, for instance, would depart any Home windows PC with the specs of the Chromebook 514 within the mud.

However that’s form of a moot level when the 514 intentionally doesn’t run Home windows. So clearly it’s fairer to match it to different Chromebooks. The large daddy of the species remains to be, two years after its launch, the Google Pixelbook, however at £999 it stays as robust a promote because the day it got here out, regardless of its brilliance. The HP Chromebook 13 is cheaper, however nonetheless a reasonably luxurious different, beginning at £600.

In any other case, Chromebooks are typically both low cost and cheerful, or low cost and cheerless. You possibly can examine extra of the previous in our checklist of the very best Chromebooks. 

Acer Chromebook 514 assessment: Design

As I’ve already hinted above, the Acer Chromebook 514 makes a wonderful first impression. The aluminium chassis may be very trendy when closed, and it’s moderately light-weight at 1.5kg. When opened, issues get a bit extra utilitarian with sharp angles and fairly huge bezels prime and tailing the display – though those to the aspect are impressively slender measuring just some millimetres skinny.

You additionally gained’t have any hassle setting the display at a snug angle, because it dips all the way in which again to be utterly flush with the keyboard. It’s a pity it doesn’t go the complete 360 levels to develop into a convertible, given the touchscreen, but it surely’s nonetheless impressively versatile. 
 
That flexibility continues into its connectivity, too, with a formidable vary of ports. Just like the bigger and significantly much less nice to make use of Chromebook 315, it has two USB-C ports (one used for charging), two USB-A ports, a microSD card slot, a three.5mm headphone jack and a Kensington lock. 
 
It’s not all excellent news, although. Whereas the Acer Chromebook 514 is fairly engaging to have a look at, it has some annoyingly sharp edges, particularly on the underside. It might positively snag on trousers if used on the lap, and also you would possibly need to watch out to not toss it onto the couch when not in use, too. 

Acer Chromebook 514 assessment: Keyboard and touchpad

The Chromebook is primarily meant for productiveness, and I’m comfortable to report that the Acer Chromebook 514 has no points in any respect on this space. The keyboard is agency and responsive, providing simply the correct quantity of give on the keys, feeling considerably paying homage to the MacBook Execs of outdated. It’s additionally backlit in a fashion that’s faint however noticeable in decrease mild – simply what you want from a backlight, in different phrases. 

Most pleasingly of all, not like the Acer Chromebook 315 we had been despatched on the identical time, there have been no missed spacebar presses. This looks like a high quality keyboard that gained’t allow you to down. High marks, Acer.
 
The TouchPad is equally pleasing, and Acer has given it a coating of Corning Gorilla Glass to offer it a smoother really feel than common plastic pads. Once more, this feels MacBook-like, with gesture controls working with no hitch, with simply the correct quantity of resistance to clicks.

Acer Chromebook 514 assessment: Show

Issues start to go a contact awry with the display. It’s a 1,920 x 1,080 decision touchscreen that does the job but it surely’s removed from the very best we’ve seen.

To set any preliminary fears to 1 aspect: that is nowhere close to as unhealthy because the Acer Chromebook 351’s panel, which had such weak distinction (341:1) that the whole lot appeared washed out and gray. Right here, distinction is a much more respectable 885:1, and it positively exhibits.

But it surely’s nonetheless not nice. For starters, the panel really covers even much less of the sRGB color spectrum at simply 57%, that means your colors are going to look a bit uninteresting. This will likely not hassle you an excessive amount of if you happen to’re not a graphic designer (and most Chromebook house owners aren’t), however the brightness would possibly: at a peak of simply 272cd/m2 you’ll battle to make use of the Chromebook 514 in vivid daylight.

As a touchscreen, it’s useful, if that’s your factor, however I’m not very certain it provides all that a lot. Given the display can’t flip 360 levels, prodding at it simply makes the display shake. Sure, you’ll be able to have it flush with the keyboard, if you would like, however then your keys simply find yourself getting in the way in which.

Acer Chromebook 514 assessment: Efficiency and battery life

Persist with the Chromebook 514’s meant functions – typing away at your masterpiece on Google Docs, filling in spreadsheets, web procuring and a few mild YouTube movies – and the Chromebook 514 feels completely fantastic, with no hints that its internals are considerably dated.

For those who’re the form of one who can’t preserve to underneath ten tabs, nevertheless, then you definately’ll start to really feel it. That is doubly true if you happen to intend to utilize ChromeOS’s early assist for Android and Linux apps.

Benchmarking on ChromeOS is difficult due to its reliance on webapps. Those who we’ve got, nevertheless, had been as uninspiring as you’d count on, given its modest innards. It managed 14fps within the WebGL Aquarium with 5,000 fish and managed the Mozilla Kraken 1.1 benchmark in three,794.1ms. For context, a Kaby Lake Intel Core i7 – launched in the identical 12 months because the Celeron in use right here –  manages that job in 622ms. 

Battery needs to be completely stellar, with the Acer promising as much as 12 hours on a single cost. We discovered that to be considerably optimistic in our looped native video take a look at, which managed simply 5 hours and ten minutes, although in day-after-day web looking, anecdotally, it fared much better. I’ve been tapping away at this assessment for 3 hours, and Chrome OS reckons it has one other 4 left. 

Acer Chromebook 514 assessment: Verdict

I’ve quite a lot of time for the Acer Chromebook 514, and – for me – it makes a stable case for ChromeOS. The keyboard and trackpad are great, it appears to be like the half and it has loads of ports.

However you’ll be able to’t overlook its drawbacks: its display is distinctly middling, it has sharp edges and the battery life isn’t up there with the very best of them regardless of Acer’s guarantees. Worst of all, packing a three-year-old processor in a £350 product feels imply spirited, even when efficiency is mostly fantastic as Chromebooks go.

Sadly, all of that leaves the Acer Chromebook 514 within the no-man’s land I feared in the beginning of the assessment. Too costly for the funds market, however in the end not adequate to bother the premium finish both.

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