The Acer Aspire 1 A114-32-C1YA is the least expensive Full HD (1920-by-1080) notebook you can buy from the Taiwan-based company. To put it succinctly, you’re very a very practical PC for a low price that’s very portable for daily commute to college. We’re so wowed by its thin profile and a combination of price, features, and performance that we’re giving it a slot among our Top Picks in the budget category.
The Aspire 1 is a budget laptop, so we didn’t expect a premium design or even a backlit keyboard. All you’re getting is a stylish profile, that is very slim and lightweight than its inexpensive competitors. It measures 13.5 x 9.6 x 0.7 inches and weighs 3.6 pounds, while its closest competitor the 15-inch Lenovo IdeaPad 330 measures 14.8 x 10.2 x 0.4 inches and weighs 5.07 pounds. If you need something affordable that you can lag around to college or work, this Aspire fits the bill.
Again, this notebook gets basic styling with a black body except for a silver Acer logo on the lid and white keyboard font. The brushed texture lid and keyboard deck adds some pop to an otherwise plain aesthetic. Perhaps the only other thing you’ll like in the design is the sturdy construction and a strong hinge that rotates up to 180 degrees, allowing you fold the display back flat. That’s a nice feature to have, especially when you need to collaborate with a group.
Most laptops in the sub-$400 price range come with 1366-by-768 resolution displays, and they still look pretty for daily use. The Acer Aspire 1 we’re reviewing comes with a full HD (1920-by-1080) resolution, that’s a kill for such an affordable system. It may not be the brightest screen around, but seeing a 1080p resolution makes it a great choice for Netflix binging, web surfing and watching YouTube videos.
Above the screen, there is a 640-by-480 webcam that is a bit grainy, but will suffice for video chats and Skype calls. However, it may not be the best for impromptu business teleconferencing when you’re away from your station. The screen’s maximum brightness of 206 nits is respectable, but is still below the budget laptop average of 239 nits; though, we’ve seen more expensive laptops with dimmer displays.
For connectivity, there’s a decent array of daily-use I/O inputs including one USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, one HDMI, an Ethernet port, a Kensington lock and a headphone/mic combo. While the Acer Aspire doesn’t include the latest inputs such as USB Type -C, it still offers enough port to have all your peripherals connected.
Wireless connectivity come via 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. A pair of bottom firing speakers are loud enough to fill a small room, but bass gets thinned out at higher volumes.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The Acer Aspire 1’s full-size keyboard is more than usable. In fact, you’ll enjoy typing on it. The keys have a plastic feel, make minimal noise under your fingers, and there is no flex in the keyboard deck. Key backlighting is not available here, but it’s a feature we never expect in a budget system. It has a 1.2-mmillimeter key travel and requires 78 grams actuation force, which is slightly above the desirable 60 grams.
The touchpad is slightly offset from the center in the palm rest, is nicely sized and works fine, too, although its physical clicks are fairly loud for our liking. For a budget laptop, the inputs are respectable as compared to other notebooks in the same category.
With an Intel Celeron N4000 CPU, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of eMMC flash storage, the Aspire 1 is only cut for basic everyday multitasking. You’re buying a Chromebook-level notebook only that this one loads Windows 10 S mode that you can use with most apps, as compared to Chrome’s limited compatibility. At first, it will struggle to load 10 Google Chrome web pages simultaneously, but things improve once they are all up.
For daily tasks like watching 1080p YouTube videos, typing college assignments, or finishing an office report, it gets the job done. However, the Acer Aspire lacks the firepower to load more demanding tasks, with notable hiccups when you attempt to overload it with tasks in the background. The integrated Intel UHD Graphics 600 graphics card used here offers enough power to play web games — but don’t attempt loading AAA titles like Fortnite or Overwatch.
Acer usually throws in good battery life even in its budget laptops, but the Acer Aspire 1 A114-32-C1YA is rather underwhelming, offering only 6 hours and 34 minutes on a single charge. The Lenovo IdeaPad 330 last almost half-that, but the Acer Aspire 5 (A515-43-R19L) excels with over 7 hours on a single charge, which is about enough to last a full day at school or work.
The Aspire 1 A114-32-C1YA is an impressive laptop for anyone on a strict budget, thanks to a sharp 14-inch display, a slim and lightweight design that’s miles ahead of the ugly, low-res laptops we see in this price range. It has a comfortable keyboard and its port selection is rather robust. However, its plastic chassis has some flex, battery life is middling and the webcam is practically unusable.
Is there a better alternative?
The budget category always has alternatives, its all about scouring around for one with few drawbacks. If you want a sleek design and practicality coupled with better battery life, Acer offers the new Aspire 5 (A515-43-R19L) in an elegant exterior, is a better performer and its battery last longer for around the same price.
If your budget can stretch a little, the Acer Aspire 5 A515-54-51DJ is an excellent choice offering an 8th Gen. Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM and a 256GB solid-state drive, all set in a premium-looking chassis. If 2-in-1 convertible excites you, the Lenovo Flex 14 (81SS0005US) is worth a long look as you shop around.
Should you buy it?
Maybe. While the Acer Aspire 1 A114-32-C1YA offers everything we need in a budget laptop, the company just released the Acer Aspire 5 (A515-43-R19L) that goes for around the same price, but looks better and its battery lasts longer. If you like newer hardware, the newer Aspire 5 (2019-release) offers better value over the Aspire 1 that was released last year.