In my article of August 5, 2021, I gushed about my experience with a little and inexpensive Acer Chromebook. I detailed how one of these computers is all most consumers need. If you have not yet read that article, please hit the link in the sentence above and come back for this one.
Since that time, I have wondered about a few things.
While my Acer 311 has an 11” screen and a small keyboard, there are larger Chromebooks. Larger means larger screens and larger keyboards. Larger also means the opportunity for a bump in performance and on-board storage.
Both increases are immensely helpful. Larger screens are easier to see. Larger keyboards are easier to use and feel less cramped.
How about a touch screen? More powerful processor? More on-board storage? Better quality keyboard with concave keys? Long battery life similar to the 311? And what about a Flipbook, so I can use it as a tablet as well as a “regular” computer? And, finally, what if it is available at a terrific price? Well, why not????
After considerable investigation and consternation, my friends at Acer came through with the suggestion for an Acer Chromebook Spin 514 model CP514-1HH-R0SS, available now at Best Buy for $549 in Mist Green. Note that it is bundled with a high quality, padded, zippered case and a cordless mouse.
This versatile Acer Spin features the latest speedy AMD Ryzen 3000 C- series processors and military-grade (U.S. MIL-STD 810G *1) durability to ensure that it can be used and transported safely between home, work and school.
Under the hood is a quad-core AMD Ryzen 5 3500C processor running at 2.10 GHz, AMD RADEON Vega 8 graphics controller, 8 GB RAM and 128 GB of onboard storage. It feels substantial and solid (because it is), with a bright, Full HD 1920×1080 screen that has an industrial strength, hardened glass cover.
Ports include USB-C 3.2 Gen 1, DisplayPort over USB-C, USB charging 5/9/15/30 V; 3 A and a DC-in port for 5, 9, 15 or 20 V, with a supplied 45 W power supply/charger.
An important note: All Chromebooks launched in 2020 and beyond receive 8 years of auto updates from Google… prior to that it was 6… here is the list of when all Chromebooks stop receiving updates:
This is huge!
When automatic updates cease, the Chromebook will continue to operate, but without further updates. So it will be a good plan to replace this computer, or any computer once updates are no longer available. Would you really want to continue to use a computer that is eight years old? I hope not. I would not if I had an alternative. By that time, there will have been significant technological improvements.
Good luck with a Windows PC. Updates for 8 years and a functional PC? Nope. Only Macs can do that, and you know how expensive they can be, with none having touch screen or the flip capability.
**WHAT’S IN THE BOX**
- Power supply
- Mouse and dongle
Going through the standard setup procedure using my Chrome username and password, all the previously created settings were automatically applied, including all the apps and settings established from my Acer 311 Chromebook. Yes, it was that easy.
Then, it was time to . . .
**PUT IT TO THE TEST**
Like an old friend, only better, everything is familiar. Using Wi-Fi here at Gadget Central, a few fun tests to begin. I launched the Netflix app and tried streaming, then the Amazon Prime Video app, both successfully streaming videos with good sound volume.
That larger, better screen makes a positive difference, as does the better keyboard with included mouse.
Next, composing documents with Microsoft Office. Again, familiar, better.
Wirelessly print to all my printers.
Day after day, using this gem of a touchscreen laptop has been a pleasure, whether in laptop or tablet mode.
It is confusing when looking at all the available choices, from different processors to different storage options and RAM, or with touchscreen and tablet mode. How does one decide the best choice? I wish I had the perfect answer to that conundrum! One problem is the lack of comprehensive roundups and trusted source articles. For Windows laptops, there are a seemingly endless number of articles pitting one against another. Not so for Chromebooks.
In the end, I suppose there is not so much of a significant difference in performance. For the general consumer, it’s hard to go wrong. Sure, there will be a measurable difference between models. In my experience, the difference is in response time. How do you perceive milliseconds? It is not possible.
Perhaps a better determiner has to do with the mission. Are you doing the “normal” things like most of us? This includes watching videos, whether from YouTube or the premium offerings as mentioned above.
Choices of one or another may not make or break the deal or cause users to be able or not able to do everyday tasks, and that is the focus of my interest and advice. This is for EVERYONE, not for some with special requirements.
And speaking of special requirements, Chromebooks are also available with cellular connectivity, just as are some Windows PCs and tablets. These devices do not need to rely upon W-Fi, as they carry their own window to the outside, their own cellular radio, their own monthly fee for service, just like your mobile phone. Yes, this is far afield from the norm, but important to include in the discussion.
My advice is towards the larger, better keyboard and accompanying bigger and better screen. Why not? Why not avoid a cramped keyboard? With battery life for the 14” models on par with the sub-12” models, why not go larger?
Go even bigger? Sure! Acer offers a 17” Chromebook. Advantages? The screen is the attractor on the largest size, and not so much the larger keyboard, with one exception, the larger keyboards include enough room for numeric keypad off to the right side. Important? Not to me. Though larger, it is NOT a stunner in the performance area. It is less capable than the one I am using now. Found at Walmart for $329, have a look to satisfy your curiosity.
In conclusion, Acer’s Chromebook Spin 514 configured as it is on mine has met every need, passed every test. No hiccups, no delays, nothing about which I can complain. Priced far less than comparably performing, comparably sized Windows laptops with the dual capability of operating in tablet mode and with touch screen, this is a fun and capable laptop.
There is one more advantage, that being the Chrome OS. Compared to Windows, there is no comparison. Chromebooks are stable, uncomplicated and do not suffer from malware. Chromebooks can be renewed as if new when starting as often as needed or wanted, unlike Windows computers or Macs.
There is no way a Windows computer will perform as new for up to eight years as will this and other Chromebooks. If you’ve had a Windows laptop, you know that annoying glitches occur often before the first year has passed. You also have the experience that after a few years, that once new laptop does not perform as speedily as when new. This will not be the case with a Chromebook.
Owning a Chromebook like this one means not hating your laptop, not making inside-your-head apologies for its anomalies and idiosyncrasies and wishing you knew or knew someone who could fix the things about your computer that make you crazy.
- Less expensive
- Longer lasting
- Great battery life
- Does everything needed or wanted for most consumers
- At its price, it is just about perfect for most consumers’ needs
Manufacturer’s one year parts and labor
*1. Tested by qualified 3rd party labs for certain tests procedure under MIL-STD 810H (Oct 2008) for environmental conditions that include high and low temperatures, humidity, vibrations, mechanical shocks on drops, rain, dust and sand.