BERLIN — Low-cost laptops can be stylish, durable or budget-friendly, but rarely are they all three. Acer is out to prove it can pull of the triple play with the Chromebook 514, a $350 14-inch notebook coming to the U.S. in October.
Acer’s Chromebooks aren’t known for their design prowess (see this year’s Chromebook 11), though they are solidly built and can last forever on a charge. That started to change with the 15-inch Chromebook 15, which added a smidge of style, but Acer is really upping the ante with the Chromebook 514.
At a glance, the Chromebook 514 could almost be mistaken for a MacBook Air. The black keys are laid in a silver aluminum chassis with plenty of room to rest your palms. The touchpad is covered in Corning’s Gorilla Glass rather than plastic. The backlit keyboard adds a nice look to the machine.
The bezels on this modelare slimmer than Acer’s standard, which gives the Chromebook’s display more real estate in a smaller footprint. The chin of the display, where Acer emblazoned its logo, could shrink down to give the 1080p LCD screen even more room to shine, but that’s a small complaint.
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Acer is also touting the Chromebook 514’s 12-hour battery life, which would be an improvement over the 9:17 result we saw from from the Chromebook 15’s battery. And the Chromebook 514 is all-in with USB-C, which will help future-proof it.
Acer is taking what used to be a cheap alternative to a notebook, the Chromebook, and giving it a premium gloss. But will people want to spend $350 on a Chromebook when cheaper options abound? We’ll find out when we get the chance to hands-on with the Chromebook 514.
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