Hardware Laptops Reviews

Acer Chromebook Spin 13 first look review: is this the breakthrough Chromebook?

Acer Chromebook Spin 13 review
The keys to the Acer Chromebook Spin 13's success are the two flexible hinges

Acer announced the Chromebook Spin 13 at its New York launch event on 23 May, and unlike the sexy Swift 5 – also announced – it actually exists. Or at least, a working prototype does. I took it for a spin (sorry, not sorry) to find out if this could be the breakthrough Chromebook in the UK.

The Acer Chromebook Spin 13 certainly has much going for it. Top of the list, an eighth-gen Intel processor – a Core i3-8130U, Pentium 4415U or Celeron 3865U. I’m crossing my fingers that it will be the Core chip in the UK, because that should make this the fastest Chromebook around when it launches in September.

Acer Chromebook Spin 13 review
The screen rotates 360 degrees, so you can use it as a tablet or in “tent mode” to watch films

Second, its rotating design. Which actually makes sense here. Use the Spin 13 as a laptop most of the time, then twist the lid 360 degrees and use it as a tablet. Which you can, because it weighs a reasonable 1.58kg; that means it is possible to hold it comfortably in one hand, for a while at least.

I’m also pleased to see a slot for a Wacom pen. This wasn’t available to test, but it makes absolute sense to a) include it and b) provide a safe slot for it to live. I’m constantly losing the stylus for my Surface Book 2 precisely because it doesn’t have such a port.

Acer Chromebook Spin 13: Design

This is also a nice-looking laptop. The 3:2 ratio 13.5in 2,256 x 1,504 screen may have big bezels compared to, say, the Dell XPS 13, but the Gorilla Glass coating stretches all the way across, giving a rich look to the black strip at the bottom.

Not everyone will be a fan of its silver finish – a bit dull, some might say, despite the fact that it’s 100% aluminium – but it gives it a high-quality look. Indeed, when I started typing this article two journalists were sitting to my left tapping away on their MacBook Pros. At first glance, you wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference between this machine and theirs.

 

Acer Chromebook Spin 13 review
If you ignore the Acer logo, there’s more than a hint of the MacBook Pro to this all-aluminium Chromebook

With one caveat: I would have had to hold my hand over the Acer logo sitting on the lid. While Acer has chosen a discreet grey Chrome logo, there’s no such subtlety with the “acer” slapped on its rear.

It’s too early to talk absolutely about the quality of the keyboard, touchpad and screen, but everything looks promising. It’s a standard chiclet keyboard, and while the keys don’t have much travel they’re absolutely fine.

The IPS screen looks even better. That Gorilla Glass finish helps photos to look vibrant – but I’ll have to wait until I receive a final review sample to put it through our full range of tests.

Acer Chromebook Spin 13: Well connected?

Acer Chromebook Spin 13 review
Ports ahoy! There’s no shortage on the Acer Chromebook Spin 13, with a USB-C, USB 3, microSD slot and audio jack on the left

I can’t fault the number of ports: two USB-C 3.1 ports on either side mean you can charge from either side or connect a high-speed drive. Or connect an external display. Ye olde faithful USB 3.0 is still there too, along with a microSD card reader.

This laptop should also have no trouble connecting to your wireless network, with the latest 802.11ac standard in place. Bluetooth 4.2 rounds up the set.

Acer Chromebook Spin 13: Price and availability

Acer Chromebook Spin 13 review
Separated at birth: Acer also announced the plain Chromebook 13 (left) at its New York event

Now we come to the sticky bit. While we know the Acer Chromebook Spin 13 is due for release in September, we don’t know the price. Right now we don’t even know which of the three potential processors it will include.

We do know it will either include 32GB or 64GB of eMMC storage (not the fastest type, but fine for a Chromebook). And one thing’s for certain: it looks darn promising. We can’t wait to get our hands on a final unit to test.

NOW READ THIS: Google Pixelbook review: The best device you don’t need? 

About the author

Tim Danton

Tim Danton is editor-in-chief of PC Pro magazine and has written about technology since 1999. He enjoys playing with gadgets, playing with words and playing tennis. Email tim@bigtechquestion.com

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