Acer Chromebook Spin 13 Review

Posted on November 24, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Chrome OS, Chromebook, Hardware, Mobile with 42 Comments

The Acer Chromebook Spin 13 is a superb business-class convertible Chromebook. Has this platform finally matured to the point where it can rival the PC and Mac?

I think it’s right there.

As you may recall, I almost pulled the trigger on Google’s Pixelbook last year. There was so much I liked about the convertible laptop, and at the time, Android app integration in Chrome OS was just starting to make sense. Ultimately, however, I couldn’t square its $1000 price tag with its compromises, especially its too-small 12.3-inch display. And while I did return it, I’ve since kept my eye on the Chromebook market—premium and otherwise—to see how things develop over time.

I considered other Chromebooks in the meantime, of course. Samsung’s premium Chromebooks have come in and out of the running, but they, too, have always featured small 12.3-inch displays, no doubt in an effort to make both sides of the convertible equation—standard clamshell laptop and tablet—make sense. But I’ve always approached this from a different angle, and believe this kind of device should be optimized for the every day—traditional laptop usage—and not for the occasional tablet usage.

This year, we’ve seen a handful of Chromebooks address this need. And the one that interested me the most, immediately, was Acer’s Chromebook Spin 13. As soon as this device was announced, I contacted the company, hoping to secure a review unit. Acer was nice enough to oblige, and it arrived in late October, and I’ve been using it ever since. It is exactly the Chromebook I’ve been looking for, and I think this is where Chrome OS starts to really make sense to a broader audience and to a more diverse set of use cases.

Design

The Acer Chromebook Spin 13 is made of anodized aluminum, which lends it a premium air. But it’s not a unibody design: Instead, the keyboard deck is made of two separate pieces that are screwed together. Some may criticize Acer for this cost-saving gesture, but in the Chromebook world, where most devices are decidedly plastic and cheap-feeling, the Chromebook Spin 13 is clearly a more premium design. And besides, most unibody premium PCs and Macs space are even more expensive.

There are other nice premium touches, too: The touchpad and keyboard decking are both surrounded by nicely chamfered edges. And the side-mounted power and volume buttons, hinges, and display lid surround all have a nice, shiny chrome-like finish.

The Spin 13 also features durable Corning Gorilla Glass on both the display and the touchpad, the latter of which I believe to be unusual. The device looks great, but it should be quite durable too.

That’s especially important when you consider the Spin 13’s versatile usage possibilities. As a convertible laptop, the Acer features a set of 360-degree hinges that allow it to be used in laptop, tablet, tent, and presentation/consumption usage modes. So it works much like an HP Spectre x360.

Presentation/consumption mode

I typically use these types of machines as laptops almost exclusively. But with Chrome OS now supporting Android apps, the Spin 13’s versatile design takes on new importance. So I made sure to test how well it worked as a tablet, interacting with those apps with my fingers as I do on a smartphone.

And … it works. But the Spin 13 is even thicker in tablet mode than the thickness of its combined display lid and keyboard deck would suggest, thanks to the tapered design of the latter, which is reversed in tablet mode, and takes up more space. And, of course, as a 13.5-inch device, the Spin 13 is a bit big for a tablet too. This is a common issue with convertible PCs, and the reason, again, why the Pixelbook is smaller (and has flat body panels, too). It’s good to have options.

The Spin 13 isn’t optimized for tablet mode

(This design has ramifications for the Spin 13’s Active Pen, which lets you draw and write on the device’s display. More on that below.)

I’m OK with the design choice here because laptop mode is my primary usage and the Spin 13, like any convertible, is optimized for that. But if you think you would like to spend more time in tablet mode, a tablet-based detachable Chromebook like Google’s Pixel Slate (or, in the PC space, a Surface Pro) might be the better pick. Or, you could consider a convertible that was designed to offer a better tablet experience, like Pixelbook.

Regardless, you can’t beat the versatility. And if you ever find yourself stuck in coach on a long flight, being able to use the Spin 13 in tablet or presentation/consumption mode will be most appreciated.

Display

The Acer Chromebook Spin 13 comes with a delightfully vibrant 13.5-inch 3:2 IPS display running at 2256 x 1504. It offers wide viewing angles and is in many ways the Spin 13’s single best—and most premium—feature.

Tent mode

That Acer got the memo on 3:2 is especially commendable in a Chromebook. This display allows the device to work as a tablet without the awkwardness—well, aside from its heft and thickness—of a 16:9 display in portrait mode. And 3:2 is better for general productivity apps, too, so it’s the right choice for the Spin 13’s most common usage mode as well.

Despite its 3:2 display, the Spin 13’s bezels are a little on the large side, especially on the top—where the webcam is correctly located—and the bottom. It’s not hard to imagine where a bit of size could be trimmed in a future rendition of this product that would retain the same 13.5-inch display. That said, I don’t find the bezels distracting or onerous. And this type of thing is still very common in the Chromebook space, even with premium devices.

Components and ports

The Acer Chromebook Spin 13 can be had in a variety of configurations, but the review unit features an 8th-generation quad-core Intel Core i5-8130U processor, 8 GB of RAM, and 64 GB of eMMC flash storage. If you think these heady specifications for a Chromebook, you’re not paying attention: Modern Chromebooks mix and watch traditional web apps with Android apps and Linux applications, and the Spin 13 is properly outfitted to meet these needs.

And on that note, performance is excellent. There’s a fan, plus back and underside venting for heat dissipation, but the Spin 13 has only rarely invoked the fan and it never gets uncomfortably loud or hot.

That said, I don’t have any real way to stress the machine: I can’t run my standard video encoding test, for example, or run any of the benchmarks to which I routinely submit review laptops. Whatever: In real-world use, the Spin 13 has performed admirably and with little in the way of noise or heat.

Given the specifications, you won’t be surprised that you can run modern Android games like Asphalt Legends 9 quite handily. The graphics quality and performance are both amazing, and the fan noise is noticeable but minimal given what the system is doing. This device makes a great case for tablet gaming.

Expansion is excellent, too.

You’ll find a USB-C port, a full-sized USB 3.0 port, and microSD on the left side of the keyboard. Plus a headphone jack.

And on the right, you’ll find another USB-C port next to the Power button and volume rockers. These are on the side of the device because of its convertible design; you can always access Power and volume no matter which usage mode the device is in.

Speaking of Power, that comes via USB-C, of course. And because there’s one such port on each side of the device, you can choose which to use based on your needs or the environment in which you’re working. But in a less positive move, the power cable/brick looks like a third-party offering from the bargain bin. It doesn’t even have Acer branding on it.

Audio quality is very good overall. The Spin 13 features two bottom-facing stereo speakers which are designed to work well in any usage mode. I was generally pleased with the sound quality in the games, music, and videos I experienced, though there’s no much stereo separation.

Finally, the Spin 13 also features a 720p webcam, which is adequate but not exceptional for video conferencing. The picture quality has a bit of noise, as you might expect. But even high-end PCs and Macs still ship with 720p cameras, too, a concession, no doubt to the thinness of the display lid.

Keyboard, touchpad, and pen

I don’t test a lot of Chromebooks, but it seems like there’s basically one keyboard design that all device makers—except for Google, curiously—use in their Chromebooks.

Which is my way of saying that there is nothing unique or special about the Spin 13’s keyboard, beyond it being backlit, which isn’t always the case on Chromebooks. Otherwise, it’s the same island-style keyboard—and key layout—found on most of the Chromebooks I have used. But there’s nothing wrong with it either: I find that it works quite well, and offers excellent key feel and travel. There’s a bit of body flex present on the entire top of the keyboard deck, but I haven’t found this to be problematic, despite my heavy, ape-like hands.

The Spin 13’s touchpad is on the small side, which I really prefer in this age of ever-expanding pointing devices. It supports multi-touch gestures that will be familiar to anyone coming from Windows or the Mac. For example, you can swipe up with three fingers to get thumbnail views of all of your running apps.

Finally, the Spin 13 ships with a Wacom EMR-powered Acer Active Pen, which is small enough to fit in a storage slot in the front of the device.

That’s good, of course—it will be harder to lose—but the small size also makes the Pen less ergonomic and harder to use, especially for those with large hands. Solutions like Surface Pen more closely mimic real writing implements.

That said, performance is very good, and Chrome OS is now smart enough to display Pen UIs when available. In apps like Google Keep Notes that natively support this kind of input, I experienced just a tiny bit of lag, but nothing like the unusable pen experiences in both the Qualcomm- and Intel-based versions of the HP Envy x2. The feeling of the Pen nib on the glass of the display is excellent. And there is no stutter-stepping where a continuous line is broken up as you go. (Another issue with the Envy x2.)

What you don’t get, sadly, are any advanced smartpen features like tilt support or pressure sensitivity. There aren’t any buttons either, or an eraser. Put this all together, and I feel that the Spin 13 is adequate for note-taking but less so for drawing.

Portability

At 3.5 pounds, the Acer Chromebook Spin 13 won’t win any thin and light contests, and most PC-based 13.x-inch convertibles weight quite a bit less. For example, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga I reviewed earlier this year weighs just over 3 pounds. The HP Spectre x360 is even svelter at 2.78 pounds. And the business-class is only 2.76 pounds.

Overall, however, the Spin 13 doesn’t present an overly large form in a bag, especially when it’s stowed normally in its closed clamshell mode.

Acer rates Chromebook Spin 13 battery life at 10 hours. That’s a bit hard to measure because, well, it’s a Chromebook. On a Windows PC, I use Microsoft’s Movies & TV app to perform battery life testing by streaming purchased movie in HD over Wi-Fi. So the best approximation I could test on Chromebook was to use Google’s Movies & TV app to do likewise.

There are two problems with this approach. First, it’s not clear whether the web or Android version of this app is the more efficient; I used the web app version as a best-guess because it’s native. Second, I’m pretty sure that all of Google’s streaming video solutions (which all seem to be based on YouTube) only hit 720p for some reason, while Microsoft’s app surely delivers 1080p streaming. The lower resolution should help with battery life.

But this is the best I could do. And what I ended up with was a bit over 8 hours of battery life. Which is excellent.

Software

I know you’ve heard this before, but Chrome OS really has come a long way over the past few years. These changes are profound, and they span the system’s functionality, usability, and user experience. But if your mind just turns off when you are told, yet again, that a Chromebook really can replace a PC or Mac, I’m begging you to pay attention this time.

And that’s because unlike iPad Pro, which did not move the needle on the “post-PC” world at all this year, Chromebooks are the real deal. And the software platform itself obviously plays a big role in making that true. It is, after all, what enables Chromebook, as a hardware platform, to expand into detachable tablets and convertible form factors.

Chrome OS automatically enters a full-screen mode when used in Tablet mode

This isn’t the right place to go too deeply into why the underlying platform is suddenly and finally starting to make sense. But recent advances in Chrome OS, which include the ability to run both Android apps and Linux applications, not to mention some really well-designed new user experiences, really makes a difference. The system feels more complete, more mature, and more cohesive. It works with keyboard and touchpad. And with touch and smartpen too.

That said, there are some weirdnesses—not Acer’s fault, of course—that Chrome OS users will need to deal with. In many cases, there are both web app and native Android app versions of solutions available. And it’s not always clear which is best to use.

Consider a typical productivity app like word processing. The leading options, Microsoft Word and Google Docs, are available in both web app and mobile app forms. Each has certain, but different, advantages over the other. But there’s no clear guidance. Does one impact the battery more than the other? How do the actual feature sets compare? It’s up to the user to figure this out.

(One might argue that Windows 10 offers a similar dilemma since its users can also download two “types” of apps, from the web and from the Microsoft Store. But that’s silly. Android’s Google Play Store is of much higher quality than the Microsoft Store, making this app type decision a unique problem on Chrome OS.)

Beyond this issue, the Spin 13 is a Chromebook, so there’s no software bloat at all. I’ll be writing a lot more about Chrome OS and the new user experience separately. But seriously, this platform has matured nicely.

Pricing and configurations

The Acer Chromebook Spin 13 is available in a variety of configurations that cost between $700 and $1000. At the entry level, you’ll find a dual-core Core i3-8130U processor, 4 GB of RAM, and 64 GB of eMMC flash storage. But Acer also offers processor upgrades to a quad-core Intel Core i5-8250U processor, RAM upgrades to 8 or even 16 GB, and storage upgrades to 128 GB.

Given the needs of Android apps and even Linux, and one’s understandable desire to future-proof such a purchase, it might not be a bad idea to consider at least some of these upgrades. And on that note, the sweet spot looks to be the $900 configuration, which provides that Core i5 processor, 8 GB of RAM, and 128 GB of storage. That is the model I’d purchase, at least.

Recommendations and conclusions

With its gorgeous 3:2 display and versatile usage modes, the Acer Chromebook Spin 13 is the modern Chromebook that I’ve been waiting for. I can see how its slightly large and heavy form factor might be off-putting to some, especially those who expect to spend a lot of time using Android apps with touch in tablet mode. But I feel that Acer hits the right balance everywhere in the Spin 13, from its premium build quality to its versatility and emphasis on productivity.

I’ll be writing much more about the software experiences on this unique solution soon, and will be looking, in particular, at how a Windows user might make such a transition. In the meantime, know this: The Acer Chromebook Spin 13 is highly recommended. This is the Chromebook on which I would spend my own money.

At-a-glance

Pros

  • Stunning 3:2 display
  • Premium design
  • Versatile convertible design
  • Excellent performance
  • Great battery life
  • Android app compatibility

Cons

  • A bit thick and heavy in tablet mode
  • Chrome OS/Android integration is still a bit awkward
  • A bit expensive for a Chromebook

 

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Comments (42)

42 responses to “Acer Chromebook Spin 13 Review”

  1. longhorn

    "This is the Chromebook on which I would spend my own money."


    I wonder if someone else on this site would spend $900 on a Chromebook (the recommended spec)?


    Good to see this platform progress, it's just too Chrome centric for me. I have enough interaction with Google already.


    • cacarr

      In reply to longhorn:


      With Crostini -- which is improving quite rapidly -- you can install Firefox and all the non-Google Chromium-based browsers, etc. And you can attach other cloud storage services in the files app -- the native one, or various Android file browsers. Install Microsoft's Visual Studio Code, if you need an editor.


      I can imagine in the not-too-distant future many GNU/Linux users perferring to run GNU/Linux desktop apps on ChromeOS. And I think there's a chance this will encourage some developers to release native Linux versions of their apps, in order to support growing numbers of ChromeOS users.





      • MikeGalos

        In reply to cacarr:

        Well, seeing that ChromeOS is really a smart terminal attached to a network attached computer (in this case running the descendants of httpd) running GNU/Linux apps would be returning to *ix' roots. Kind of an updated X window Server.

      • longhorn

        In reply to cacarr:

        OneDrive is most likely a horrible experience on Chrome OS. I haven't heard of anyone successfully using OneDrive on Chrome OS. Maybe the Android app, but that one is pretty useless compared to Windows.


        Chrome OS has been with us for almost ten years. It's always "almost there". It's a bit like Linux. Next year will be the year of Chrome OS!


        If you are using a Chromebook and are happy with it - fine. Most people aren't ready to go all in on Google.


    • Jeffery Commaroto

      In reply to longhorn:

      My answer is no, not anytime soon. I would consider spending sub $500 but “almost does everything you need” doesn’t cut it at the near $1,000 price point. My $329 iPad now at $250 on sale does “almost” everything. The last bit always comes back to Windows or MacOS and there are many nice Windows machines at $900.


      If Google continues down the track they are on I could see a world where a Chromebook would also run Windows apps and the fit and finish will be there with Crostini. At that point, if the overhead of the OS is still low, I wouldn’t hesitate to give up Windows OS which can be so darn bloated and annoying.


      I wouldn’t buy today on that future as a lot can happen and Google has a hard time staying interested in things that don’t reach a critical mass of hundreds of millions/billions of users. They are already developing a third operating system while the two they have really need a lot of attention and fixes and general love.

  2. Tony Barrett

    I cannot even begin to explain just how refreshing it feels to use ChromeOS over Windows for all web related tasks. ChromeOS just does the job - no fuss, no ads, no constant patching, no action center nags, no driver issues and way less security issues. Yes, I know it's Google, and the concerns many have about that, but MS are no different these days, and worse in some ways, but ChromeOS just works. It just does, with no fuss. That used to be Microsoft's vision for Windows way, way back, but Windows has just become an overly-complex, bloated, unstable, unreliable ad riddled mess that while still essential for some legacy apps, is just heading down a path I have no interest in. As the world moves to web and PWA, Windows will become less and less relevant for a lot of people. If I was to buy another ChromeBook tomorrow, this would be it.

    • puggsly

      In reply to ghostrider:

      I'm no fan of windows but the double standard people have for it can be comical. MS brings out WindowsRT which fixes many of the same things as ChromeOS and got destroyed for it not being full windows, so they tried with the Windows 10s to have access to most windows Apps but still limit exposure and still they get hammered by the it's not really Windows crowd.

      The Google does chromeOS which is far more limiting and people get excited.

      • cayo

        In reply to puggsly:


        No, people do not get excited about Chromebook. Some Google fanboys are, but that is not likely to help much. The market has spoken. After 8 years, Chromebook is a colossal failure and will never fly.


        A 'superb business-class convertible device' that can't run full version of MS Office, Photoshop, Autodesk...and whatever particular business needs, plus it is not cheaper than decent devices that can do all this? Would you really hire a new employee and tell him/her to download Excel from Google Play Store?


        Who knows, perhaps the year of Chromebook will come right after the year of desktop Linux?

  3. PhilipVasta

    Nice review Paul, thanks. After using Chromebooks at my job (a school), I will say that I like the idea of a nice lightweight OS for normal people. But isn't there always going to be that "one thing" that a normal person needs - printer drivers, etc - that might make it a nonstarter? That was one thing you always brought out with regard to Windows 10 S, but I never quite understood why you didn't point that out with Chromebooks. Not that I'm endorsing Windows 10 S, which was not truly lightweight like ChromeOS.

  4. Philotech Mueller

    Thanks Paul for the balanced review!

    On one particular issue that you briefly touch: Which is the more complete implementation of MS Office, the Android one or the web-based one?

    I am using Word very extensively, in particular with style sheets, and I always found both versions lacking, but haven't followed up recently.

  5. BoItmanLives

    Looks like my next laptop. I liked Pixelbook but screen a little too small. And I'm done with bloated Windows 10 laptops with their three decades of spaghetti code, endless updates/reboots in the middle of working, and I cannot afford waking up to a bricked laptop because MS botched another "feature" update.

  6. Jorge Garcia

    Oh yes now this one nails the formula. Put this in a black leather outfit like the folio and take my money.

  7. wright_is

    Over here, the Spin 13 is not available, the non-Spin version with Pentium processor and 4GB RAM costs more than we pay for Fujitsu Lifebooks with Core i5 and 8GB RAM... :-S

  8. Angusmatheson

    The thing that would stop me from investing in chrome OS is fuschia. It is my understanding that Google is planning to abandon both Android and Cheome OS for fuschia in the future. Will fuschia be a longhorn or Copland that is never released. Will it be a MacOS X that sets the company in an OS for decades? Windows struggled creating something new with Windows phone, windows RT, and Windows 8 and maintains compatibility and user familiarity. Can google do it - keeping everything that Chromse OS does and Android does in 1 OS?

  9. waethorn

    I don't think you can really qualify Linux application support as a feature on these for the mass market. Linux applications are still mostly an unknown to everyday consumers. Google needs to enable a whole bunch of options before it helps adoption in any way, and this stuff is a LONG way out:


    1) GPU acceleration of Linux apps

    2) External peripheral support in Linux applications (they're still working on basic USB support)

    3) A quality repo with build support

    4) A front-facing UI for downloading and managing Linux applications (i.e. another app store)


    Until then, getting a Core iX Chromebook is still overkill. There are no Android apps that push the hardware to that requirement since they're all built to run on ARM-based tablets and phones. x86 isn't even a requirement. When you're talking about the target audience for these, just getting any Chromebook with 4GB of RAM and Android app support and possibly a touchscreen is enough.

    • meek_teef

      In reply to Waethorn:


      1) Coming in first quarter of 2019.

      2) Already works in the dev channel.

      3) Apt-get is a high quality repository with build support.

      4) Gnome Software Manager is available on Chrome OS.


      Android apps are not designed to push the limits of hardware . They're designed for mobility, efficiency, and optimal performance on limited hardware with constrained resources. These are characteristics that make Android apps appealing on Chromebooks. There are exceptions of course (e.g. games).


  10. chaoticwhizz

    I bought an Acer Chromebook 15 a few months ago for slightly below $300 and I am very happy with it. It's a tiny bit slow at times but great for the things I do with it which is linux command line and some android apps. I can even do some python development on it. It does well with the few Android games I have played on it. Not all Android apps work on it yet but most do.

  11. Tom Monahan

    Amazon is selling this Chromebook with Paul's recommended configuration for $699 for Cyber Monday, a $200 savings.

  12. VancouverNinja

    Okay just looked up the recent market share numbers for Chrome OS as of October 2018 .


    Net Marketshare 0.33% (up .02% from its peak of 0.31%)


    Stat Counter 1.13% (down from its peak of 1.22%)


    Paul,


    Why are you even reviewing these devices? This platform is beyond being D.O.A. and your reviews of this operating system make no sense in this context. It even is encouraging people to put put good money into a useless OS. I think we are better off getting more reviews of Windows or Apple devices to choose from instead of an OS that can't get to 1.5% market share in 8 years of trying.


    Stick a fork in it and let's move on please. ??





    • summersk59

      Okay just looked up the recent market share numbers for Chrome OS as of October 2018 .


      Net Marketshare 0.33% (up .02% from its peak of 0.31%)


      Stat Counter 1.13% (down from its peak of 1.22%)


      Paul,


      Why are you even reviewing these devices? This platform is beyond being D.O.A. and your reviews of this operating system make no sense in this context. It even is encouraging people to put put good money into a useless OS. I think we are better off getting more reviews of Windows or Apple devices to choose from instead of an OS that can't get to 1.5% market share in 8 years of trying.


      Stick a fork in it and let's move on please. ??


      Not sure where you get your figures from, 3 our of 5 elementary and middle schools in the US are using Chromebooks. I'm on my 2nd Chromebook (Pixelbook), 1st one purchased in 2012 and still working without issue. Also Chrome OS is used by a number of security firms " https://www.cnet.com/news/how-google-chromebooks-became-the-go-to-laptop-for-security-experts/" The world isn't all about Apple and Microsoft, especially with Microsoft and all the "bloatware" they're packing lately.

      The fact that Paul takes the time to review this laptop is a nice change and I'm sure welcomed.


      Cheers





  13. FalseAgent

    seems like the real deal. But I still find it difficult to cough up real money to buy one of these things - but I know it will be able to do 99% of what I do.

  14. Bob Shutts

    I don't know if this device completely trashes iPad Pro, but the trackpad is a BIG plus.

  15. SenorGravy

    It has a backlit keyboard!!! One of the first questions I ask when I look at a Chromebook. And it's amazing in 2018 how many times the answer is NO.

  16. Sprtfan

    One of my biggest issues with Chromebooks have been trying to print. I even have a printer that is supposed to work natively and still does not work consistently. I could probably put more time into figuring out why but that is kind of the point. Something like printing should be easy and not require much effort.

    Android apps have come along way now though and works reliable enough for my kids to play some games with out having weird issue that used to come up. Still not sure if I'd spend $700-$900 on one though.

    • summersk59

      One of my biggest issues with Chromebooks have been trying to print. I even have a printer that is supposed to work natively and still does not work consistently. I could probably put more time into figuring out why but that is kind of the point. Something like printing should be easy and not require much effort.

      Android apps have come along way now though and works reliable enough for my kids to play some games with out having weird issue that used to come up. Still not sure if I'd spend $700-$900 on one though.


      I think the printing issues from day gone by are gone. I have a 5 yr old HP 8600 with all the bells and whistles and works perfect with Chrome OS. Google also has "Cloud Print" so depending on your printer, that provides another printing option.

  17. Th4

    No fingerprint reader? On a "business class" machine?

  18. PeterC

    Interesting. So is there now some clarity on products and market sectors?


    surface pro - pixel slate - iPad pro


    surface laptop - chromebook - Mac book air


    it will be interesting to see how the chromebook opportunity changes with project campfire/ alt-os being released which I assume will be with the launch of google upgraded pixel book.


    Seeing as as you have the surface laptop, chromebook and Mac book air will you be doing some comparative in use testing against each other?


    Im now in the mindset of de-risking my windows reliability, I need to be more cross platform and less susceptible to Microsoft’s somewhat chaotic windows and general business approach. They are costing me a lot of money in cancelled products over the last 4 years and I’ve got quite a Microsoft graveyard of now cancelled hardware.


    In theory I’m able to choose any of the 3 OS but I have one specific area of issues with excell and specific code and some 10 years of legacy workbooks using that code. I’m open to being swayed by the chromebook, genuinely open to it, can it deliver, and if so i’d Re-write the code that’s keeping me to excel/windows. I probably should anyway.


  19. Stuart Pearson

    Really love ChromeOs now, I use the pixelbook but even the lower spec devices like the Acer R11s are great. I know recommend them to all family members who just want to replace their old windows laptops.

  20. Shel Dyck

    The last time I played with ChromeOS, I foolishly clicked on the link to add OneDrive capability to it's files app. resulting in an error I loop I could only break by reinstalling.

  21. dcdevito

    Great review Paul. I look forward to more Chrome OS based articles soon! I really think I am ready to move on to a Chromebook full-time now, especially with Android and Linux app support. I truly think this platform is now more versatile than Windows (for me).

  22. hrlngrv

    I bought my Chromebook almost 6 years ago, and it's now out of support. OTOH, it was before the now standard Chromebook keyboard layout. I just can't stand that keyboard layout, so no matter how good Chrome OS is becoming, no more for me.


    Thing is I could use a Chromebook for everything but one work task because the Citrix Receiver app provides access to my employer's application servers, and I have no problems using Office, the company intranet on IE, various other software through Citrix. I can also run Linux desktop software through crouton, so I could run much of that various other software (mostly GNU R and RStudio) locally.


    Annoying for me. I like the software, but I can't take the keyboard.

  23. CajunMoses

    I'd say that the Core i5 model has no real advantage over the Core i3 model UNLESS the user intends to run Crostini (Linux applications). The Core i3 is probably more than enough future-proofing for Web apps and Play Store apps. But only the Core i5 is currently available from retail outlets. I'd also say that the feel of the pen/stylus is a very subjective observation. Others claim that the Acer stylus feels more natural because it feels more like a pencil. Regardless, this was a fair and thorough review. It will no doubt influence a number of readers who were undecided about Chromebooks or undecided about which Chromebook.

    • mikes_infl

      In reply to CajunMoses: You're certainly right about influencing me. I was a pinch away from ordering one of these from Amazon (today being Cyber Monday and prices are even better) until I read the part about the stylus. I don't understand how a company can charge real money for a product that ALMOST does what you want. I wonder how much harder it would have been to include pressure sensitivity?


      • jeffdbellin

        Sorry I only saw this comment now, mikes_infl, because the Cyber Monday deal on the review model - i5 w/8GB, 128GB eMMC storage - for $699 was superb and the stylus is the one area I think Paul somewhat misstated. The stylus/touchscreen in this model is Wacom EMR, which is by far and away the best tech for pen applications; this is a pretty much universally held assessment whether the base computer is a Windows or Chromebook device. Acer has managed a tradeoff here - convenience vs. functionality - in choosing to put the pen in a silo in the keyboard base. If you've ever been on tabletpcreview.com, you know that there are 3 items in the "gold standard" for stylus/pen based displays:

        1) Must be Wacom EMR
        2) Pen-in-silo is highly preferred over a separate pen that is so easily lost
        3) Stylus is ideally similar in size and feel to a writing implement, like a pencil, and is further idealized if it has 1-3 programmable function buttons, even an "eraser" at the other end, that will function like a conventional pencil eraser.

        Of the 3 criteria mentioned above, 1) is an absolute must, 2) is just a practical virtue, particularly for note-takers (as opposed to digital artists, who value this but are used to having more than one implement for drawing) and 3) is certainly desirable, but is the most expendable. It's pretty much a given that a pen small enough to fit in a silo in a relatively small computer will be smaller than ideal for writing, but it's a tradeoff - I've never seen a full-size pen that fits in a silo. The good news is that you can buy the best Wacom EMR pens - with multifunction buttons and better response characteristics - and use them with a device like the Spin 13, giving you the best of both worlds. Acer made the right choice here by designing both the best screen/pen technologly, providing a silo and not charging you for an additional full-size stylus with function buttons.

        Note: where Paul got it wrong is that the pen provided with the Spin 13 does have pressure sensitivity, more than enough for note-takers and even enough for many artists, who would only use a device this size for sketching and starting drawings, converting to a larger device with support for 4096 levels of pressure, tilt, etc. for completing a work of art.

        Sorry this post is so long; I thought this was information missing in Paul's otherwise excellent review and it could have led one reader to make a more optimal decision: if Chrome OS will work for you, there is nothing close, in any platform, for $699! Hope it goes on sale again.


  24. donaldhall3

    What's the theme in the photo? I searched for Links and couldn't find it. Also, I love my Pixelbook.


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