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Hands on with the Acer Chromebook 14 for Work and Aspire S 13

TechCrunch TechCrunch 21/04/2016 Brian Heater

Yes, there were some new fitness devices, a phone, and a gaming desktop (complete with its own giant piece of luggage), but the real news at Acer’s One World Trade Center-adjacent press conference (aside from some notably stunning views of lower Manhattan) was notebooks. And notebooks and notebooks.

Hard to say precisely which device was top dog here, but seeing as how we kicked things off with that new Chromebook the last go-round, let’s just stick to that now, shall we?

Interestingly, Acer was actually referring to the S 13 when it dropped a not-so-veiled allusion to taking on the other company “that starts with in an ‘A,’ ” but allow me to be that guy when I mention, right off the bat that the Chromebook 14 really looks like a MacBook. Sorry, but it does. It’s probably the black keyboard and hinge set against the metallic silver body (Note: It’s definitely that). But, then, if looking like a MacBook was a crime, then Acer’s hardly the only offender.

And there are some notable distinctions here. For one thing, there’s the anti-glare display, something I think about every time I see my own dumb face reflected back at me. I realize it’s not as important a feature as I’m making it out to be, but there you have it. Go be free and use your Chromebook out in the sunshine — or, I suppose, a particularly sunny board room.

That, after all, is the primary case use here. It’s right there in the Chromebook for Work 14’s name, a nod to the inclusion of Google’s Chrome for Work initiative, designed to deploy lots of the laptops across an enterprise or small business, thanks in part to an IT-focused ecosystem.

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I’m sad to report that I’ve yet to test out the device’s rugged design, but Acer assures me that the thing can be dropped from 48 inches without incident. The design lends the device a slightly more plasticky feel than the aforementioned MacBook, but I certainly wouldn’t go so far as to say that it feels cheap. Even more important to my own clumsy computing is the spill resistant keyboard, which can handle up to 11 fluid ounces of liquid, a phenomenon that has destroyed countless computers over the years.

The Chromebook 14 for Work goes on sale next month for an extremely reasonable starting price of $349.

And what of the S 13, the Windows 10 notebook the company used to call out the aforementioned company that “starts with an ‘A’?” Like the Chromebook, the ultrathin sets itself apart with, among other things, its price point. Starting at $699, the computer is priced more on-par with an iPhone than a MacBook.

The device I played around with had a sterile all-white design, which, if past all-white laptops have taught us anything, has the potential to be a real hand-dirt magnet. For now, however, it looks quite pristine, accented by a big, silver hinge, and a textured top. At 2.86 pounds and 0.57-inches thick, the laptop should go largely unnoticed stashed in a backpack.

It looks to be a solid option for users seeking a fully-featured Windows 10 laptop that comes in well under a grand. That device is also set to ship in May. The touchscreen is optional.

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