Acer Chromebook 714 First Impressions

Posted on August 24, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Chrome OS, Chromebook, Mobile with 54 Comments

Acer makes my favorite business-class Chromebooks, and it looks like the new Chromebook 714 will continue this trend, with its capacious 14-inch display and, in a first for a Chromebook, integrated fingerprint reader.

That latter feature may not seem like a big deal. But it is to me: One of my enduring frustrations with Chrome OS is the scarcity of what I think of as easy but explicit sign-in options. That is, I don’t like implicit sign-ins, like you get with Windows Hello facial recognition or, in Chrome OS, with Smart Lock, which is based on the proximity of your smartphone or some other device. I prefer to manually, or explicitly, sign-in. But I would like that it be quicker than typing in my Google account’s long password.

With Windows, I typically sign-in with a fingerprint reader when available or a four-digit PIN when it’s not. Chrome OS offers a PIN sign-in option, but because my Google account is a managed G Suite account, I’m forced to use a 6-digit PIN. (I’ve never figured out how to change that in the G Suite admin tools, despite multiple attempts.) It’s not great.

The Chromebook 714 solves this problem and lets me sign-in the way I’d prefer (easily and explicitly). So we got off to a great start.

Beyond that, the Chromebook 714 offers a premium, all-aluminum design that Acer says that it delivers military-grade (U.S. MIL-STD 810G1) durability related to moisture and temperature extremes, and it can survive drops up to 4 feet and withstand up to 132 pounds of downward force. I’m not going to test either of those claims, but the 714 is certainly handsome and well-made, and nothing like the all-plastic Chromebooks you still see at other price points.

The IPS display is standard fare, and unlike last year’s excellent Chromebook Spin 13, it’s a standard 16:9 panel, and not a 3:2 panel. It’s also only Full HD (1920 x 1080), which I’d be OK with if there was at least a 1440p upgrade option. On the good news front, there is a multi-touch option, and since the display can actually lay flat, that might even be useful, especially for Android games and apps. And while the top and bottom bezels are, of course, large, the side bezels are quite small.

(Regarding the Spin 13, remember that that Chromebook was a convertible design, and as such its 3:2 display with multi-touch and pen support make a lot more sense. The Chromebook 714, by comparison, is a standard laptop form factor, for which I assume the demand is much higher, especially in the business market.)

For a Chromebook, the 714’s internal components are pretty high-end: The review unit is powered by an 8th generation 2.2 GHz Intel Core i3-8130U processor, 8 GB of RAM, and 64 GB of eMMC storage. But you can spec one out with faster Core i-series processors, 16 GB of RAM, and 128 GB of eMMC storage if needed. That isn’t so fanciful, as you can now run Linux apps on Chromebook, including the Android Studio development environment.

Connectivity is excellent dual-band 802.11acn Wi-Fi with 2×2 MIMO technology and Bluetooth 4.2. I don’t believe there is a cellular data option.

Expansion is modern and perfectly suited to the task: There’s a USB-C and full-sized USB 3.1 port on the left and a USB-C port and microSD card slot on the right. There’s no HDMI for video out, but it’s 2019 and the unit’s USB-C ports can handle DisplayPort video-out.

The keyboard is backlit is stock Chromebook. It’s too early to tell if it’s more than just adequate, but I’m a little surprised by how similar, if not identical, most Chromebook keyboards seem to be. The large glass touchpad is excellent, with great accuracy and performance, and support for multitouch gestures. It’s also protected by Gorilla Glass.

Sound output is surprisingly loud and crisp, and the 714 ships with dual far-field microphones as well so that you can use voice control to interact with Google Assistant from across the room.

From a portability side, the Chromebook 714 is a bit on the hefty side, thanks to its 14-inch display panel, and it weighs 3.31 pounds. That won’t be an issue for someone my size, but those with a smaller frame may want to check one out in person before they decide. But battery life is great, according to Acer, with 14 hours-ish of video playback time and over 11 hours of web browsing over Wi-Fi.

One thing you might be wondering is what makes this Chromebook business-class, aside from the quality of the construction and the desirability of Chrome OS in certain scenarios, including frontline workers, healthcare, retail, and other industries. Well, the Chromebook 714 is part of Google’s Chrome Enterprise program—is, in fact, currently showcased on their site—and has been certified as Citrix Ready, meaning that it is compatible with the Citrix Receiver, XenApp, and XenDesktop applications.

The Chromebook 714 is also Android app and Google Play Store compatible, of course, opening up buyers to the world’s biggest app store. This, combined with a growing collection of business-focused apps in the Chrome Web Store includes access to apps like VMWare, Cisco Webex, Cisco Jabber (Android), Salesforce (web), and many others.

The Chromebook 714 is available now, and starts at just $500, though that particular model comes with a Pentium CPU, 8 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of eMMC storage. The review unit, with a Core i3 processor, 8 GB of RAM, and 64 GB of storage is a reasonable $650. A top of the line model, with a Core i5-8250U processor, 8 GB of RAM, and 64 GB of storage, is $750.

More soon.

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Comments (54)

54 responses to “Acer Chromebook 714 First Impressions”

  1. Thom77

    Edit: Surface Go Entry Level with eMMC = slow, subpar, Don't even think about buying it, just buy the other model.

    Acer Chromebook with eMMC = "For a Chromebook, the 714’s internal components are pretty high-end"

    • Paul Thurrott

      In reply to Thom77:

      I assume you mean Surface Go.

      The phrase "for a Chromebook"---thanks for quoting that---explains the difference. For a Windows 10 PC, eMMC storage is unacceptable. That, combined with the slow Pentium processor makes the Surface Go sub-par. Well, that and the terrible 4-5 hour battery life, the tiny display, and the smaller-than-normal keyboard.

      The Chromebook 714 has considerably better specs than Surface Go overall.

      • Thom77

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        Its a tablet Thurott. Of course it has a smaller display. It's not "tinny" .. its a normal size display for a tablet. Of course it has a smaller then normal keyboard. Its a tablet.

        If you need a bigger display and normal sized keyboard ... guess what ... You don't buy a tablet.

        The Pentium is fine. Is it super snappy? No. But its fine.

        The eMMC is fine. Is it super snappy? No. But its fine. I can't tell that much difference from the loading times on Skyrim (yes, it plays Skyrim installed with over 100 mods). If I never knew it had eMMC, i would never suspect it did.

        Batter life could be better ... but you get 6 to 7 hours of video playing IME.

        This is like testing a sports car and complaining that you can't haul 2x4s in the back. ITS NOT DESIGNED TO.

        What do you think people who buy a Surface Go expect to do on it? 3D Cad?

        I could easily write a variation of your point about the Chromebook: 'FOR A TABLET, the Go internal specs are quite adequate for tasks most people will perform on a tablet"

        and no, eMMC on a Chromebook is not high end.

        neither is an i3.

        i don't think you understand the definiton of high end.

    • MikeCerm

      In reply to Thom77:

      eMMC in Windows can be slow because of what Windows does with it -- tons of background processes, always-on antivirus, and usually eMMC devices don't have enough system memory to keep from swapping to the eMMC. That being said, for really basic stuff like web surfing, eMMC is fine, even in Windows. It's still 10x faster than the spinning hard drives we all had 5 or 10 years ago, just not as fast as a real SSD. On a $200 laptop, eMMC is great. On Chrome OS, it's totally fine. Chrome OS just doesn't hit the disk the way Windows does. I do think that for $650 you should probably get more than 64GB. I don't the average user needs more than 32GB on a Chromebook, but the average user is also not spending $650.

      • Paul Thurrott

        In reply to MikeCerm:

        Ah the sweet smell of intelligence and logic. Thank you for that.

      • wright_is

        In reply to MikeCerm:

        eMMC might not have the disadvantages under ChromeOS as it does under Windows, but it still looks like penny-pinching on an otherwise well specified machine. On a cheap-as-chips ChromeOS device, fine. On an expensive ChromeOS device with otherwise good components, no.

        I don't want to get into ChromeOS/Windows arguments, but a 40GB SSD costs 17€ retail, including sales tax here. Surely, bought in volume, an SSD of a similar capacity to the eMMC isn't going to make that much of a price difference? At least not compared to the end price of the device.

  2. ringofvoid

    Thanks for the review. I'm writing from a surprisingly capable $150 Walmart special Acer Chromebook. I've been pleasantly surprised at how much use I've been able to get out of it. I think a lot of folks critical of ChromeOS "forget" just how much can be done with web apps these days. Google Docs, Microsoft Office Online, and my current favorite Lucidchart are all quite capable now and getting better with each revision. The Android apps are a bit of a mixed bag but Spotify works well and I'm enjoying a few games from the store as well. Were I using this for work, the browser + Citrix Workspace would cover my needs.

    That being said, I'm thinking of replacing this laptop with a less bottom-of-the-barrel Chromebook and appreciate reviews like this one. A nicer screen, keyboard, more storage, more RAM and a zippier CPU would take the experience from "good for $150" to pretty darn good.

    After reading the comments, I'm surprised at so many people that find ChromeOS useless but then I must be one of the .5% of the population that isn't professionally editing photos and videos on my laptop. I was also surprised that other 99.5% of laptop users are all subscribing to Adobe CC. I should have bought Adobe stock. Dang!

    • Sprtfan

      In reply to ringofvoid:

      For $150 a Chromebook makes a lot of sense. It can do most of everything most people need and is a great value. The story changes at $650 though and you can get a really good Windows laptop for that amount that can do everything that a Chromebook can currently do and more. Also, I haven't forgot how much can be done with web apps but why change what I've been using and what I've been doing for years? The options are still limited in comparison also. I might be able to make a Chromebook work as my daily driver but don't see a compelling reason to work at making the change. This is coming from someone that tried to get my parents to switch because it should be simple and do everything they need. It didn't go well and they ended up switching back.

      • curtisspendlove

        In reply to Sprtfan:

        Anecdotes are anecdotes.

        I got sick of supporting Windows in my family.

        Switched them off and don’t have to support it anymore. Only ones that still have it are my nieces (for college/gaming) but they are savvy enough to deal with Windows and learn what I teach them.

        My Dad is on Android (tablet and phone) and he can do everything he needs to do.

        Most people never did, and still don’t, need Windows, Linux, or macOS.

        Other than niche desires (such as gaming), or when someone else forces you to (lazy professors unwilling to switch / greedy professors hawking their old self-authored course books/courseware, businesses that may actually have decent monetary reasons) nearly everyone could get by without a traditional computer.

        And those niches aren’t as big as they used to be either. For instance, a lot of gaming is done on consoles. (And an even greater amount of “gaming” is done on mobile.)

        The niches are disappearing. You’d have to have your head stuck in the sand to keep denying it.

  3. joeaxberg

    I don't get why people rip on Chromebooks. The laptop above looks like a great general purpose machine that would work just fine for a great many people. I think there are a great many people out there who primarily do everything on their phone and when they crack open a laptop they just want it to open a browser.

    Windows, MacOS, ChromeOS, iOS, Android, Linux. There are lots of different computer and device form factors and features. Isn't it awesome that we live in an era of such choice? Couple all this with ever present and powerful cloud services and AI. We live in a golden age of computing.

    • PeteB

      In reply to joeaxberg: I don't get why people rip on Chromebooks.

      A lot of weirdly bitter MS fans and closet employees lurk here. Yet if Chromebooks were as big a non-factor as they insist, they wouldn't be sweating them so hard. Chrome OS is the future.

      Nobody sane cares that there's just one more kind of laptop that has its use cases. The world moves more to web-based-everything every day. Not everyone needs Photoshop, or endless virus scans and forced update reboot-loops.

      Chromebooks are also snappier on lower end hardware because theyre not running 30+ years of legacy spaghetti code like Windows.

    • RobertJasiek

      In reply to joeaxberg:

      In some respects, it is a golden age. E.g., computers are very much more capable and cheaper than when I got my first in 1983. For some kinds of products, there is great choice.

      However, not everything today is golden. There are almost only two OSs for smartphones. Small smartphones become extinct. Almost all notebooks are 16:9. There is almost no tablet with a matte display. Some devices or services are insanely expensive as a rip-off (typical example: battery replacement of Surfaces or iDevices). Data theft is the default. High resolution 5:4 PC monitors do not exist. Etc.

      As a consequence of the not so great choice, I still do not have any smartphone, the tablet I want or the PC monitor I want.

      It is a golden age only for PCs and mainstream mobile devices.

    • Pbike908

      In reply to joeaxberg:

      I have both used and recommended Chromebooks to others. There is a place for them, for sure, especially for those as you say only use a computer as a browser with a larger screen and keyboard. About the only app that I use anymore that just plain doesn't work properly in a browser and/or mobile device (IOS or Android) is the Spotify app -- maintaining, creating, and editing music playlists. I look forward to checking out Microsoft's rumored "Windows Lite."

      I notice how Paul left any mention of Android apps out of this review. I am guessing that he probably has come to the same conclusion as anyone else who has extensively use personal computing devices for several decades, in that the Android apps on Chromebooks is an underwhelming experience to say the least.

      • Stooks

        In reply to Pbike908:

        "There is a place for them"

        Going out to the family farm this weekend to sight in our deer rifles for the up-coming season. Maybe I will take one of the rejected Chromebooks at work sitting in the pile of old equipment out there for some 100+ yard target practice. Maybe setup my iPhone and shoot some slow motion video of the impact!

    • wright_is

      In reply to joeaxberg:

      The only thing that annoys me with this device is the eMMC storage.

      I'm not a big ChromeOS fan, and they just don't sell here (even Google won't sell their own Pixel branded ChromeOS kit here), but this looks like a very nice device for ChromeOS fans, with the storage caveat.

  4. Pbike908

    Thanks for the review. There is certainly a place for Chromebooks. The Chromebook/Android app mish/mash -- like every other mutli OS on a single platform -- just doesn't work.

    I really look forward to see what Microsoft's "Windows Lite" is all about. There is a real opportunity for Microsoft for an easier-to-maintain variation of Windows. I like the value of an I5 powered, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD Windows laptop, however, I am weary of the whole Windows update. I just had to "reset" my Windows the other day as the 1903 upgrade messed me up. What really drove me insane is that one can't even "preserve/restore" ones Windows settings when "resetting" the OS.

  5. wright_is

    Why do they skimp on the storage and use the atrocious eMMC instead of a proper M.2 drive? Surely at this price point, with the quality of the rest of the system, this is a silly piece of corner cutting.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to wright_is:

      In all likelihood the bulk of the market for Chromebooks remains primary and secondary education, so most Chromebooks need to be cheap. This looks like more of a personal non-school use Chromebook or maybe an enterprise thin client.

      Tangent: I can do nearly everything I need to do for work using a Chromebook and Citrix Receiver. What I can't do I also can't do with a Windows laptop using a VPN remote connection, IOW, things which require an actual in-the-office Ethernet connection. There are a few Excel add-ins which require that for network authentication, e.g., @Risk.

  6. Stooks

    I bet all those back to school computer sales really helped Chromebook OS market share. Lets take a look...

    Netmarketshare - .36%

    Statcounter - .54%

    w3schools - .2%

    Well at least the data is consistent.

    $650 could and should be spent elsewhere.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Stooks:

      All the on-line usage share estimators base their data collection on visiting certain web sites. Likely schools inhibit visiting such sites, and children under 18 often can't buy from many mundane web sites, so may not visit them much.

      IOW, shipments would be the better gauge for Chromebooks, meaning relying on what IDC and Gartner have to say. I figure Netmarketshare and StatCounter systematically undersample Chromebooks. Their usage share figures are likely to measure personal/non-school Chromebook usage.

      • Sprtfan

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        I thought the same thing on schools but the 70% drop in market share for ChromeOS over the summer in the US using StatCounter seems to disprove that being the case. It looks like schools chromebooks are well represented in their data.

        I believe Gartner flat out says that their data should not be used as market share on their site. Also, my school district has Chromebooks on a 3 year refresh schedule and the Windows systems on a 5 year. This is an example of why shipments are not a good gauge for market share.

      • Stooks

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        Wishful thinking. That might make sense if they were tracking porn sites more than anything else and schools should be blocking least k-12 would be, colleges probably do not.

        Short of that schools use enough sites like Wikipedia, news, and other general consumer sights to accurately track what little Chromebook usage there is.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to Stooks:

          My understanding is that Chromebooks are much more heavily used in primary and secondary education markets than in college/university. FWIW, a decent online Markdown editor would likely be more than adequate for most term papers, certainly for formal lab reports (30+ years ago my intro electronics EE course required typed lab reports).

  7. Sprtfan

    Anyone else notice that posts from this are disappearing?

  8. bob_shutts

    Never touched a Chromebook but they look interesting. What about printing? Is it an issue?

  9. endoftheroad

    This seems like a capable Chromebook, but thinking of Windows, 8GB of RAM is on the cramped side. Would that size of RAM be productive using Chrome or Linux?

    • MikeCerm

      In reply to EndoftheRoad:

      It depends on what you do with it. Windows uses around 2GB of RAM before you launch a single app, and Chrome OS uses maybe half that much. If you're just using web apps, 4GB is plenty. Chrome's UI and its broken Ctrl+Tab behavior make it really annoying to keep a ton tabs open at once, but even if you do, Chrome's memory just unloads and reloads tabs you haven't touched in a while, so it's not like you ever hit a wall like you can sometimes do in Windows. If you do like to keep 10 tabs live at all times, plus you've got a few Android apps going too, I think 8GB would be fine for that. Other than that, there's really not a lot else that a person would want to do on a Chromebook. Sure, you can run Linux... But if you're the kind of person who's thinking about running Linux on your Chromebook for serious stuff, you're probably better off with a non-Chrome-OS laptop with a proper Linux distro.

    • dontbeevil

      In reply to EndoftheRoad:

      A simple electron app like postman use 500mb of ram, a similat uwp app like nightingale uses 20mb of ram

  10. CajunMoses

    "I don’t believe there is a cellular data option."

    As Acer and others increasingly target business/corporate users, that becomes a very valid observation. Mobile employees would have a legitimate need, and their employers would pay for cellular data service. Non-business users will, of course, continue to use the less convenient Wi-Fi hotspot from their smartphones in order to avoid the added expense for the hardware and for the subscription to a separate, dedicated data service.

  11. CajunMoses

    The 714 strongly resembles the Spin 13. And, even though it has a fingerprint reader, which the Spin 13 doesn't, it seems to list price at about $150 less (in the Core i5 version). I guess the cost savings are a result of: a lower resolution display; a 16:9 aspect ratio instead of 3:2; having a non-convertible hinge; and not having a built-in Wacom EMR stylus. If we were comparing seating tickets, the 714 is more "business class" while the Spin 13 is more "first class." Still very nice though.

  12. nfeed2000t

    1. Seems pricey ($500 for a Pentium?).
    2. HATE the stickers: 1080p, Intel, and other large sticker right of the mouse pad.
    3. Still hoping Microsoft creates a privacy enhanced fork of Chrome OS.
  13. codymesh

    how does a pentium perform with Chrome OS? I know it's a different OS but it's not like a different OS smashes the laws of Ghz

  14. hrlngrv

    The pictures of the Dell Latitude Chromebook in the other article today were more useful, specifically the picture of the whole keyboard from directly above rather than at an angle. For some of us, keyboard layout is one of the more important features, and angled photos are only slightly better than no photos at all.

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