Acer Chromebook 14 review: A 14-inch Chromebook that looks expensive, but isn't

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The Chromebook 14's full HD-resolution IPS display is great for work and entertainment.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Performance is good, but the design is what sells it

And really, this Chromebook is perfect for all types of uses thanks to the larger-than-usual screen and its portability. The 14-inch size is enough to comfortably work with two windows side-by-side, but it's not so big that you can't use it on a plane or train. The matte finish helps with keep glare to a minimum and it's an IPS panel, too, giving you good off-angle views so gathering people around for a Google Hangout call or to watch a movie is very doable. Even its down-firing stereo speakers sound pretty decent for a budget laptop.

The thin aluminum body looks and feels good. The metal body and size no doubt add some weight compared to smaller, plastic Chromebooks, but at just under 3.5 pounds it's still light enough for a daily commute or hauling around campus. Plus, the rounded edges make it easier to slide in and out of a bag.

Perhaps because it is so thin, though, the keyboard's keys don't have much travel. If you tend to hammer on your keyboard when typing, it might be an issue. The keyboard also isn't backlit, which is more of an issue for me than the shallow key travel.

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The Chromebook 14's keyboard is shallow and not backlit.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The touchpad is large and responsive and showed no signs of jumpiness. It works well with Chrome's multitouch commands like two-finger swipes to the left or right for moving back and forth through Web pages or swiping three fingers up to see all of your open windows.

The biggest design disappointment for me is the lack of an SD or microSD card reader. True, you can connect an external reader to one of its USB 3.0 ports. But being able to slide in a high-capacity SD card and leave it there is an easy way to add to the laptop's 32GB of internal storage.

Design matters to a lot people when they go to buy a laptop including myself, even for an inexpensive Chromebook. The Acer Chromebook 14 certainly is a standout in the category. I really liked having the extra screen real estate, too. If you can live with not having the best performance for its less than $300 price, put it on your short list.

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