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Acer's new $399 Chromebook Plus may just be the best budget laptop right now

The performance-driven Acer Chromebook Plus 514 launches today, and aims to raise the bar while bringing AI-ready features.
Written by Kyle Kucharski, Editor
Acer Chromebook Plus 514

Acer just announced a new addition to its Chromebook Plus lineup that will be available as early as next week. The 14" Chromebook Plus 514 will cost $399 and is designed to be an affordable device while coming equipped with competitive hardware.

Also: This $380 HP Chromebook will change your mind about cheap laptops

The Chromebook Plus 514 will join a host of other performance-minded Chromebooks that have launched in the last year such as the HP Dragonfly Pro and the Asus Chromebook Plus CX34, blurring the line between Chromebooks and laptops, especially with the influx of AI-powered features.

The Acer Chromebook Plus 514 will come loaded with an Intel Core i3-N305 processor, feature a 300-nit full HD (1920x1080) display as well as a full HD webcam, 8GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage.

Acer's Chromebook Plus 514 will also come in touch and non-touch models, as well as a reported 11-hour battery life. These features, as well as the addition of Wi-Fi 6E capability and full HD webcam, indicate a design nudge in the direction of a portable all-day work laptop, something Chromebooks historically didn't always excel at. The webcam, by the way, will come with AI-powered features to adjust lighting, blur the background, and sharpen the image. 

Also: The best Chromebooks you can buy, starting at $312

In that vein, Acer says the 14-inch full HD display and onboard Intel UHD GPU are geared to take on photo editing tasks, both from the built-in Google Photos app and also pro-level software like Adobe Photoshop, especially with support for Adobe's Firefly generative AI.


The infusion of AI into laptops and Chromebooks alike this year may also result in some leveling of the playing field when it comes to new features and their approach to AI-powered functionality, and the Chromebook Plus 514 readiness may be Acer's initial positioning to stay ahead of the curve. 

In terms of physical form factor, the Chromebook Plus 514 weighs 3.1 pounds, which is pretty standard for a Chromebook and quite light for a laptop. The design is also typical for a unit at this price point: no-frills, standard slate with a laptop-sized keyboard and upward-firing speakers to either side.

Also: I tested Google's new Chromebook Plus and the generative AI features blew me away

Regarding ports, it'll feature two USB Type-C ports (supporting DisplayPort and USB charging), two USB Type-A ports, and a MicroSD card reader, which is a nice setup, as port selection is another one of those areas Chromebooks have caught up to laptops with. 

Acer says the new Chromebook Plus 514 will be available on the website within a few days after its launch on April 18th, and sold at Costco soon after that.

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