Acer TravelMate Spin P6 Review

Posted on September 5, 2022 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Mobile, Windows 11 with 8 Comments

The Acer TravelMate Spin P6 is a delightful 14-inch business-class convertible PC with excellent performance and battery life.

That said, the firm is likely unknown to many in the United States, as are its various brands. So I will briefly try to put this PC in context: the TravelMate series is designed for business customers, Spin is Acer’s brand for convertible PCs, or what some call 2-in-1s, and the P indicates that this machine sits in the middle of its business-class lineup (between B and X). Oh, and that 6 indicates the generation number.

In other words, this PC would compete with a mid-level HP EliteBook x360 if such a machine existed (like an EliteBook x360 84x); instead, HP offers a higher-end EliteBook x360 1040, which competes with the likewise high-end Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga. So in some ways, the TravelMate Spin P6 is in a class of its own: you’d have to pay more to get a somewhat comparable EliteBook or ThinkPad convertible, examine prosumer offerings like the HP Spectre x360, or similar.

Of course, most convertible PC buyers probably use their PCs as traditional laptops most of the time anyway. And here, the TravelMate Spin P6 lines up against HP’s EliteBook 840/845 pretty evenly from a specification perspective, though you get the advantages of its convertible capabilities without having to pay more.

Moving on.

Design

The TravelMate Spin P6 is made of an aluminum-magnesium alloy that, to my hands, feels like an interesting middle ground between traditional aluminum laptops and the ThinkPad X1 Carbon’s carbon fiber and magnesium build. But it’s also unique looking in a sea of competitors that don’t seem to change much year-over-year while being almost as thin as the X1 Carbon—which does not offer convertible functionality—and even lighter.

That convertible design provides a whole new world of versatility—it can be used in different modes, like a tent mode for presentations or media playback, or as a thick tablet, in addition to its normal clamshell functionality—but that’s probably a “just in case” scenario for most users. Those that do want or need this type of PC, perhaps for taking notes by hand or even for drawing or painting, will certainly appreciate the design. But I feel that using a PC like this with a tiny stylus, like the one that comes with the Spin P6, compromises that functionality, making it less desirable.

Long story short, you know whether you want/need this type of PC, but even if you just use it as a laptop, you will appreciate the TravelMate Spin P6’s design as much as you do its performance, longevity, and portability.

Like many other premium laptops, the TravelMate Spin P6 is MIL-STD 810H certified for durability, and it features a spill-resistant keyboard and touchpad and a scratch-resistant display; the touchpad also features Gorilla Glass protection. So this should prove to be a durable PC, and one that won’t be marred by scratches and other damage. The only cosmetic issue I experienced during my testing was some smudging on the matte finish of the wrist rests and keyboard keys, which is common.

Display

The Acer TravelMate Spin P6 provides a 14-inch IPS display with an ideal 16:10 aspect ratio and Full HD+ (1920 x 1200). It sits in a display lid with very narrow bezels, especially on the sides, provides 100 percent coverage of the sRGB color gamut for good color accuracy, and is easily viewable from wide angles.

This display is just about perfect for productivity use, but at 340 nits it’s a bit dimmer than other business-class displays and would be difficult to use outside on a bright sunny day. (I had to crank it up to 100 percent brightness and switch to a light theme to use it on the cloudy day when I took this review’s photos.) Granted, that’s probably not a typical need for most users.

Thanks to its convertible functionality, the TravelMate’s display is both multitouch- and smartpen-capable, and, as noted above, it ships with a small stylus for writing and drawing. But the display isn’t just limited to the built-in stylus: it’s Wacom AES compatible, so you can use it with any AES-compatible pen.

Internal components

Oddly, the TravelMate Spin is powered by last year’s 11th-Gen Intel Core chips instead of the more recent 12th-Gen versions, which offer a hybrid architecture. But I welcome that: I’ve had curious performance issues with PCs based on 12th-Gen chipsets, and most deliver worse battery life when compared to their predecessors. By comparison, the Acer provided a predictably reliable experience throughout the testing period, with excellent performance and battery life.

It doesn’t appear that there are too many configuration choices here, which is also a good thing: now that Intel is offering three mainstream Core chipset families—U-, P-, and H-series—many PC models now offer a bewildering array of microprocessor choices, an expansion that will make little sense to most buyers and is still an uncertainty given the newness of this architecture.

But the TravelMate Spin, from what I can tell, offers just two options, a Core i5-1135G7 and a Core i7-1165G7, and both are Intel Evo certified and offer Iris Xe graphics. Simple. As simple, both ship with 16 GB of LPDDR4 RAM and 512 GB of M.2 PCIe Gen3 x4 NVMe SSD storage, though you can upgrade to 32 GB of RAM and up to 1 TB of storage too.

The review configuration—Core i7, 16 GB of RAM, and 512 GB of storage—is ideal and worked well with all the productivity (Word, Brave, Teams), photo and video editing (Photoshop Elements, Premiere Elements, Affinity Photo), and software development (Visual Studio 2022) tasks I threw its way. It delivered fast, consistent performance, and it never got hot or loud, even when used on uneven surfaces like a bed.

Connectivity

Connectivity is reasonably modern, given the 11th-Gen Intel underpinnings, so you get Wi-Fi 6 (not 6E) and Bluetooth 5.1 (not 5.2). There is also an optional 5G cellular connection with Sub-6 capabilities via both physical SIM and eSIM. The review unit did not include that capability.

Ports and expansion

The TravelMate Spin P6 provides the expected mix of legacy and modern ports, though almost all of them are on the left side of the device for some reason. There, you will find two 40 Gbps Thunderbolt 4/USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 ports, one HDMI 2.0b port, and one full-sized 10 Gbps USB-A 3.2 port, plus power and battery indicator lights.

On the right, Acer provides only a microSD slot, plus a lock slot and a combo headphone/microphone jack. Oh, and the garage for the tiny stylus. It also supports NFC, though I did not test that.

Audio and video

The TravelMate Spin’s two upward-firing stereo speakers sit above the keyboard and are powered by a smart amplifier and DTS, rather than the more typical Dolby. You can use the bundled DTS app to manually specify a content mode—music, movies, games, or custom audio—or use a set of EQ sliders, which is pretty basic. I’d rather see an automatic mode selection feature, and Dolby Atmos for that matter, but the Acer delivered decent, loud, and distortion-free stereo sound with the movies and music I enjoyed. This is a reasonable setup for a business-class laptop.

For hybrid work meetings, the Acer provides dual microphones with AI noise reduction and a nice 1080p IR webcam. I only used it for a handful of work meetings and one short podcast—the September 2 episode of First Ring Daily—and found the built-in microphones and webcam to work quite well.

As noted previously, you can mute the built-in microphones with a keyboard key, but you have to manually slide a tiny and hard-to-see shutter to disable the webcam.

Keyboard, touchpad, and pen

The TravelMate offers a full-sized, backlit island-style keyboard with the short key throws I prefer and a satisfyingly clicky typing experience. It’s not as good as the best keyboards in this segment—HP and Microsoft still come out on top—but it’s as good or better than today’s standard ThinkPad keyboards (the new Z-series perhaps notwithstanding).

But I do have a few quibbles about the keyboard.

I like that the power button and its built-in fingerprint reader are integrated into the keyboard, but its placement in the upper right corner, where my fingers expect to find the Delete key, is problematic. (That said, there are no worries about powering down the PC inadvertently with errant key presses.) And the function row inexplicably defaults to the function keys instead of the normal shortcut keys, leading to many mistakes when typing, especially with Home and End, which are on the F11 and F12 keys, respectively. If there is a way to toggle this permanently, I never found it.

I also noted one curiosity: with most laptops, the keyboard backlighting will come on if you touch the touchpad or press a key, but the Acer’s only comes on when you do the latter. This is something anyone could get used to, but it’s unusual and I hadn’t realized how often I was lightly tapping touchpads to turn on those lights.

The glass precision touchpad has worked well for the most part, though I did disable three- and four-finger gestures because of mis-tap issues and still experienced the occasional weirdness where I’d try to scroll in a document (like this review) and would be interrupted by a right-click context menu. It’s basically in the middle of the pack for PC touchpads.

The bundled Acer Active Stylus is compatible with Wacom AES and it supports 4096 different levels of pressure sensitivity, which is pretty much standard. I find it too small to use comfortably, in part because of my very large hands, but I don’t think too many people would enjoy long stretches of writing or drawing with this device.

In the good news department, it can be charged in just 15 seconds by putting it in its little garage hole on the right side of the laptop to gain an additional 90 minutes of use.

Security

The TravelMate Spin P6 offers Windows Hello-based facial recognition and fingerprint recognition, which is my preferred configuration because of the choice it provides. (I happen to very much prefer using my fingerprint because it’s explicit, but I know that others prefer the convenience of facial recognition.) And Acer optionally bolsters that capability with User Sensing, a feature that will lock your PC when you step away and wake it up when you approach, further automating the sign-in and sign-out processes, albeit with a small hit to battery life. This is disabled by default and needs to be found and enabled. (Good luck.)

Unfortunately, the fingerprint reader, which is hidden in the power button, doesn’t pass through your authentication when you power on the PC though it works well enough otherwise. So you will need to press that button twice, once to power on and once to authenticate. (You don’t technically need to press the button in for the latter, but I found myself doing so most times.)

Privacy fans will like the inclusion of a shutter on the webcam, but it’s a manual switch that’s hard to see and use, and not automated via a key on the keyboard. There is a microphone mute key, however. And Acer bundles several security-related capabilities in its Quick Access app.

Sustainability

While most PC makers heavily market the recyclability and repairability of their products these days, Acer didn’t provide any information about either for the TravelMate Spin P6. The bottom of the keyboard deck is attached with Torx screws, however, so I assume that at least the SSD and battery replaceable. Most PC makers continue to solder RAM to the motherboard, still.

Portability

With a curb weight of just 2.2 pounds and a thin, 0.66-inch profile—both incredible figures for a 14-inch convertible—the TravelMate Spin is a thin and light wonder, and an excellent travel companion. As good, it delivered terrific battery life, averaging about 8:40 over the past month in real-world use, roughly half what Acer promises. (And that seems to be pretty consistent across most PC makers.) I was able to travel with it during a recent trip to the Finger Lakes region of New York and was impressed by its longevity.

Acer provides a standard 65-watt power supply with a USB-C connector, and it can charge the TravelMate to 80 percent capacity in just 60 minutes.

Software

The TravelMate Spin ships with Windows 11 Pro and the usual assortment of Microsoft shovelware like Adobe Express, Disney+, Spotify, and the like. But there was also something unwelcome I’d never seen before: a Microsoft News notification popped up on the first boot.

As for Acer’s software loadout, it falls neatly between the serenity and perfection of Lenovo’s ThinkPad lineup and the utter insanity of HP’s recent consumer/prosumer offerings. Which is a cute way of saying that there’s some cruft you’ll need to deal with.

In addition to several Acer-branded utilities, most of which are pointless, the TravelMate Spin arrives with four hardware utilities from Intel, two audio-related utilities from DTS and Realtek, and a mixed bag of software like Aura Privacy, AxCrypt, Booking.com, Dropbox promotion, Evernote, Firefox, Norton Security Ultra, and two CyberLink media applications, PhotoDirector for Acer (photo editing and management) and PowerDirector for Acer (a video editor).

Of the Acer branded stuff, only three are of interest.

(Acer) ControlCenter provides a front-end for software updates and support, hardware maintenance, and some redundant features like a startup applications interface. (Oddly, this app appears as “Control Center” in Start and couldn’t be found with search no matter how I spelled it.)

Acer ProShield Plus offers a variety of security-related utilities, some of which (File Encryption) are redundant, and some of which (File Shredder) actually improve on what’s provided by Windows 11.

And (Acer) Quick Access lets you configure device capabilities like Bluelight Shield, adaptive brightness, USB charging, and the like. I feel like this could be rolled into ControlCenter.

Indeed, sifting the wheat from the chaff is an exercise for the customer, but I would personally delete most of the third-party crap immediately. I had high hopes for those CyberLink utilities, for example, but both are a bit complex and PhotoDirector actually popped up an advertisement on the first run. Nope.

Pricing and configurations

Acer offers two stock TravelMate Spin P6 configurations, one with a Core i5-1135G7 processor and the other with a Core i7-1165G7 processor. Both provide the same 14-inch WUXGA (1920 x 1200) 16:10 multitouch display, 16 GB of RAM, and 512 GB of SSD storage. The Core i5 configuration costs $1399, while the Core i7 configuration will set you back another $100.

Recommendations and conclusions

Though Acer is one of the world’s five biggest makers of PCs, it isn’t usually mentioned in conversations that routinely include companies like Lenovo, HP, and Dell, at least here in the United States. That’s too bad: Acer offers a diverse and high-quality stable of products that are often nicely differentiated from those made by the big three.

And the TravelMate Spin P6 is a great example, offering customers a svelte, powerful, durable, and efficient design that ticks all the right boxes. It also manages to look and feel nothing like its competition, and I mean that in a good way: in a sea of ThinkPads and MacBooks, your TravelMate will stand out nicely, and without looking ostentatious or odd.

The Acer TravelMate Spin P6 is highly recommended.

At-a-glance

Pros

  • Versatile, thin, and light convertible design
  • Terrific performance
  • Excellent battery life
  • Nice combination of legacy and modern ports
  • Reasonable pricing

Cons

  • Too much bloatware for a business-class PC
  • Keyboard quirks

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