Acer Chromebook 714
Sarah Tew/CNET

It seems like Chromebooks are still trying to break from the image of being cheap, clunky, commodity laptops. Just last week, Apple's marketing chief Phil Schiller said they've gained in the education market because "they're cheap testing tools for required testing." And the upcoming Black Friday sales that will drop prices on some to $200 or less don't help, either. Heck, even the 15.6-inch version of the Acer Chromebook 714 I'm reviewing here is available from Walmart for $279.  

8.3

Acer Chromebook 714

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Like

  • Thin and light, but sturdy design.
  • Excellent battery life
  • Fingerprint reader
  • Citrix certified
  • Google Assistant support

Don't Like

  • Can't sign into Google with fingerprint reader.
  • Display could be brighter.

Don't mistake that low sale price for a lack of quality with the 714, though. It looks and feels like a premium laptop with an all-aluminum chassis with military-grade durability to survive drops from up to 48 inches (122 cm) and downward force up to 132 pounds (60 kg). It's built for business so it can stand up to rough treatment from multiple users. But it should also survive in the hands of a daily commuter like me or a less-than-careful student. 

Even as a premium model it starts at less than $500, and the configuration I tested sells for a little more than $600 at the moment. You get your money's worth at that price, which includes a full-HD touchscreen that comes in handy with Android apps. You can also turn on the beta support for Linux for running Linux command-line tools, code editors and IDEs. Plus, the Chromebook 714 is certified Citrix Ready, so it works with Citrix's business solutions including Citrix Receiver and XenApp and XenDesktop applications.

Like other Chrome OS devices, you won't be able to run MacOS or Windows software, though the latter can be done with VMWare, which is likely a step too far for most people not using this for business. That said, it does all the typical Chrome stuff really well and looks good doing it. 

Acer Chromebook 714

Price as reviewed $650
Display size/resolution 14-inch 1,920x1,080-pixel touchscreen
CPU 2.2GHz Intel Core i3-8130U
Memory 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz
Graphics Integrated Intel HD Graphics 620
Storage 64GB SSD
Optical drive None
Networking 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.2
Operating system Chrome OS

Finer touches

If you're used to "cheap Chromebooks" the 714 is a clear step up from those models. Along with the sturdier metal body you get a Gorilla Glass-covered touchpad, an LED backlit keyboard -- a rarity on Chromebooks -- and a fingerprint reader. Also, while all configurations include a full-HD IPS display with you can get it with a 10-point touchscreen. 

The lid opens 180 degrees, making it easier for coworkers or students to gather around the display. It's a matte screen, so reflections are less of an issue than with a glossy display. That's good since the display doesn't get particularly bright, which is the biggest issue I have with this Chromebook and likely not a deal-breaker unless you frequently work in bright sun or office lighting. 

Acer Chromebook 714

The keyboard and touchpad are better than your average Chromebook but have the standard layout. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

The keyboard is comfortable with a decent amount of travel and a slight, but discernible pop to the keys. It has the typical Chromebook layout, but if you want to switch the top row to function keys or swap the Search key for a Caps Lock, you can in the settings. The backlight has five levels of brightness; just tap the Alt plus the screen brightness key in the top row to adjust. The touchpad is smooth, responsive and big, but it does have a little rattle to it when you tap, which takes away a tiny bit of the 714's premium feel. 

Though they're standard on a lot of Windows laptops now, this was the first Chromebook with a fingerprint reader. Setup is easy and it never failed to unlock the system on the first attempt. However, it can't be used to sign you into Chrome, which means you'll still have to remember and use your password when you boot up or sign out for another user. 

Also, since this is a business Chromebook, it's worth mentioning that the HD webcam is merely OK. Acer says it has HDR, but it didn't seem to handle extreme contrast environments better than any other webcam, and there was plenty of noise in low light. It does have a wide field of view that makes video chats with multiple people easier. 

Acer Chromebook 714

A microSD card slot and USB-C port (USB 3.1 Gen 1) on the right join a second USB-C and USB-A ports on the left.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Up next to the camera are dual mics to help Google hear you. You can turn on Google Assistant and wake it with an "OK Google" to do anything from add a calendar appointment or check your email to adjust volume or screen brightness to control your smart home stuff and, of course, search. 

Built for business, good for anyone

While Acer has definitely made the Chromebook 714 for business, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this to anyone looking for a sturdy Chromebook for home or school use. The configuration I tested was fine for handling typical daily tasks and entertainment (though you'll definitely want headphones or external speakers if you want to actually enjoy what you're listening to; the built-in speakers are thin and tinny). 

Battery life is long, too, getting 15 hours, 21 minutes in our streaming video test. You likely get closer to 8 to 10 hours of use, especially if you have the brightness at 100% all the time. That's still plenty of time away from an outlet and it charges by USB-C so you can always boost your work time with a portable power bank. 

You're paying a bit more here for a premium experience and it's worth it. 

8.3

Acer Chromebook 714

Score Breakdown

Design 8 Features 8 Performance 8 Battery 9