If you’ve been around the website or the YouTube channel of late, you’ve likely noticed a trend towards favorable reviews on newer Chromebooks. I don’t think that is a fad or a coincidence: I think Chromebooks in general are just getting better hardware.
Let’s face it, Chrome OS is the same on every single Chromebook we review. When there’s a new thing in the OS, everyone gets to utilize it eventually. So when we review devices, we are primarily concerned with hardware. And in the hardware department, the Acer Chromebook 514 seems to have it all together.
Aluminum build? Check. 1080p IPS anti-glare screen? Yep. Backlit keys? Got ’em. Gorilla Glass trackpad? Sure thing!
Packed with 8GB of RAM, 64GB of internal storage and dual USB-C and USB-A ports, this thing simply checks a ton of boxes.
Sometimes, though, getting all the hardware specs together doesn’t always add up to a great overall experience, and thus far, that is what is happening with the Acer Chromebook 514 for me. I don’t even think it is the below-average processor (our review unit came with the Pentium N4200, but there is also a lower-end Celeron N3450 as well) that makes me feel simply “meh” about this Chromebook.
What it comes down to for me at this point in the process is the overall use experience. At the end of the day, that is what we want to convey to our readers and viewers. What is it like to actually use a device? How does it make you feel? Do you want to keep it around after a review period?
At this point, pending further review, this Chromebook is just not hitting those points. Sure, I like a lot of the specs on paper, but they just aren’t coming together to form a cohesive experience. Instead, I feel like I’m using a slightly-better low-end Chromebook. If this device was priced around $300, that would be a great thing to say. But, it isn’t.
The model we are testing comes in at $499 (the Apollo Lake N3450 model is $399, but I can’t recommend it based on previous N3450 performance), and at that price, you can get some Chromebooks that we are simply over the moon about. In fact, as I’m typing this, I just posted about two great devices on sale for $449 that I’d recommend over this Acer every time. In addition, the HP Chromebook x360 seem persistently on sale for $499 or less, and it is likely my favorite overall Chromebook available right now aside from the Pixelbook.
With that quality available for those prices, I just don’t see where the Acer 514 can find a place. At least not at this point.
Look, I don’t want to get too deep into the details until I’ve used this Chromebook a bit more and we prepare the full review. Just know that I’m not loving it so far. I will continue using it as my daily machine for the completion of the full review, and maybe it will change my mind in that time.