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Grow Your Business Technology

Acer Aspire R 14 Laptop Review: Is It Good for Business?

Acer Aspire R 14 Laptop Review: Is It Good for Business? The Acer Aspire R 14 earns 3 out of 5 stars. / Credit: Jeremy Lips

Strong performance and long battery life at an affordable price make the Acer Aspire R 14 look like an enticing work machine. Plus, its 360-degree folding hinge makes it more versatile than the average 14-inch notebook. Unfortunately, a shallow keyboard and a cheap touchpad mar the experience. Is the R 14 a good enough value to overcome those flaws?  

[For more information on how we test mobile devices, visit our testing methodology page.] 

The Aspire R 14 offers premium style despite its affordable price tag. I like the brushed-metal look of the aluminum lid, and the diamond-cut edging around the keyboard deck add a touch of sophistication. Overall, the R14 feels sturdy and solid, without a hint of flex in the lid or base. Plus, the notebook's soft-touch underside gave me a secure grip when I needed to carry it around.

The machine is reasonably portable for a 14-inch workstation, measuring 0.73 inches thick and weighing 4 lbs. That's still a bit thicker and heavier than its main rival, the Lenovo Yoga 700 (0.72 inches and 3.5 lbs.).

What separates the R 14 from standard 14-inch laptops is its rotating hinge, which lets you fold the display back a full 360 degrees so you can use the machine like a big tablet. Don't expect to carry it around like an oversize iPad, though — the R 14 is much too large and heavy for that. The Yoga 700, which sports a similar rotating hinge, is a bit easier to use in tablet mode, since it's a half-pound lighter.

Workers will likely make better use of the intermediate modes, which let you use the keyboard deck as a stand to prop up the touch-screen display. That lets you use touch-screen apps in cramped quarters, such as on an airplane tray table. It's also good for showing videos and presentations to a small group.

The R 14's full-HD display could be sharper, but the 1920 x 1080 panel packs a high resolution for a screen this size. The 14-inch panel provides enough virtual real estate to make screen-intensive tasks like editing spreadsheets feel comfortable, and split-screen multitasking feels good, too. Text looks crisp, though colors aren't particularly vibrant.

Topping out at 199 nits of brightness, the R 14's display is a bit dimmer than average (248 nits), though it's brighter than the Yoga 700 (197 nits). A brighter display would be easier to view outdoors or in direct sunlight, but the R 14 is more than bright enough for comfortable indoor use.

A shallow keyboard makes typing on the R 14 feel like a bit of a chore, with just 1.2 millimeters of travel on each key. That's far from the shallowest keyboard we've tested, but it is below the 1.5-mm average for laptop computers. Deeper keyboards provide a more comfortable, desktoplike typing experience. Compounding the problem, the keys are also on the mushy side and don't offer much feedback.

The touchpad also has its faults, with a cheap plastic finish that didn't always allow my finger to smoothly glide over its surface. Cursor control was usually responsive when I used a very light touch, but even then, my fingertip tended to skid over the surface of the pad, causing the cursor to jump. And it was far worse when I had even the smallest bit of sweat or oil on my fingertip. It's not a deal breaker, but the R 14's cheap-feeling touchpad will definitely be a source of some frustration.

The R 14 contains most of the ports a worker could want. The left edge includes a USB 3.1 Type-C port, two standard USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port and a security lock slot to keep the machine secured at your desk. The right edge has an SD card reader and an extra USB 2.0 port. 

There's no Ethernet port, though that's typical for thin-and-light machines like this one. If you want to connect to a secure work network, or use wired Internet, you'll need to pick up a USB-to-Ethernet adapter.

With Intel's 6th-generation Core i5 processor on board, the Aspire R 14 impressed me with really fast performance. Programs opened and closed quickly, and switching between apps was smooth, even during moderate to heavy multitasking.

My review unit, powered by an Intel Core i5-6200U processor with 8GB of RAM, racked up a very good score of 6,266 on the Geekbench 3 test, which measures overall performance. That beats the thin-and-light notebook average of 6,252, and it's noticeably better than the Yoga 700 (5,855) and the Toshiba Satellite Radius 15 (5,489).

Acer's machine also outperformed rival laptops in the OpenOffice Spreadsheet test, which tasks a PC with matching 20,000 names with their addresses. The R 14 completed the job in 4 minutes and 41 seconds, which is quicker than the Yoga 700 (4:57) and the Satellite Radius 15 (5:42).

The R 14 is a good pick if you need a 14-inch laptop that can last through a long business flight. The notebook ran for a solid 8 hours and 37 minutes, which clears the thin-and-light notebook average of 8 hours and 29 minutes. It also blew past the Yoga 700, which died after just 7 hours and 3 minutes.

Acer sells the R 14 in a handful of different hardware configurations. The entry-level model includes a 14-inch HD (1366 x 768) touch display, an Intel Celeron 3205U processor with 4GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive, all for $430.

Business users should spring for the midrange model, which provides a full-HD (1920 x 1080) touch display, an Intel Core i5-6200U processor with 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of SSD storage, all for $700.

The top-end model is similar to the midrange version but includes a speedier Core i7-6500U processor and 512GB of storage, for $930.

For just $700 as configured, the Aspire R 14 is an extremely capable work machine. In addition to delivering excellent performance, it has the battery life to easily outlast competing laptops. Plus, its folding design is genuinely useful. Unfortunately, a subpar keyboard and touchpad limit the R 14's potential for productivity.

If you can afford it, the Yoga 700 offers similar hardware with a better keyboard and touchpad for $770, although it has shorter battery life and half the storage of Acer's machine. That makes the Aspire R 14 an enticing option for budget-minded business users, but only if you don't plan to do a ton of typing.

[For more information on how we test mobile devices, visit our testing methodology page.] 

Brett Nuckles

Brett Nuckles has been a working journalist since 2009. He got his start in local newspapers covering community news, local government, education and more before he joined the Business News Daily staff in 2013. He graduated from Ohio University, where he studied Journalism and English. Follow him on Twitter @BrettNuckles.