Acer Chrome­book Spin 11

Acer spins out a win­ning ChromeOS ma­chine

APC Australia - - Contents -

Chrome­books have gen­er­ally been re­garded as lower-end cheap lap­tops, fit for ed­u­ca­tion and ca­sual web-brows­ing. How­ever, in a postPix­el­book world, do they still fill the same role? Well, the Acer Chrome­book Spin 11 proves, they can.

It’s de­signed to ap­peal to par­ents with young chil­dren need­ing a lap­top for school­work, but it’s also suit­able for some­one who wants to in­stall Linux. It’s durable, has de­cent enough per­for­mance, comes with an in­cluded sty­lus and car­ry­ing case, and it’s in­ex­pen­sive.

Only one con­fig­u­ra­tion’s avail­able — an In­tel Celeron Quad Core N3450 CPU with 4GB RAM and a 32GB SSD — sell­ing for $559.

The Spin 11 fea­tures an all-plas­tic build, but don’t let that de­ceive you as this Chrome­book is one of the stur­di­est lap­tops we’ve ever used. No mat­ter how hard we tried. On pa­per, the key­board would also seem shal­low with just 1.1mm of key travel, but it feels com­fort­able and we didn’t feel the keys bot­tom­ing out at all while work­ing on it.

It’s not the light­est Chrome­book in the shop, weigh­ing in at 1.35kg. How­ever, its thin 2cm frame with rounded cor­ners makes it pleas­ant enough to hold, and we’re sure that it was dif­fi­cult to make it much lighter with­out giv­ing up some of the dura­bil­ity. Ports are also a huge win here, with two USB-C ports, which han­dle data trans­fer and charg­ing. In a Chrome­book at this price range, we would have been happy with just one. You’ve also got two USB 3.0 ports, a mi­croSD card slot and a head­phone jack.

The screen also re­flects (if you’ll ex­cuse the non-pun) the durable na­ture of the Chrome­book, as it’s cov­ered by Corn­ing Go­rilla Glass. So it should be re­sis­tant to crack­ing or shat­ter­ing. The touch­pad is a sour point, how­ever. The sur­face is com­pe­tent, but it’s ex­tremely sen­si­tive, not to men­tion that the plas­tic fin­ish and tough cen­treclick was a turn-off. How­ever, it does sup­port ges­tures, so it’s not all bad.

Things start to take a turn when you look at the dis­play. It sports a 1,366x768 IPS dis­play, and while view­ing an­gles are good, it’s not very bright.

The speak­ers, also, are a bit lack­lus­tre; while they do man­age to fill the room, there’s not all that much in the way of de­tail in the sound. The Spin 11 is fine for watch­ing YouTube videos; just don’t ex­pect a pleas­ant ex­pe­ri­ence while lis­ten­ing to mu­sic or watch­ing ‘real’ films.

Even with mod­est com­po­nents, Chrome OS con­tin­ues to prove it­self com­pe­tent for its in­tended use cases: web brows­ing and word pro­cess­ing.

While it won’t be able to keep up with some­thing like the Google Pix­el­book, the Acer was able to keep up with a de­cent work­load: typ­ing this review with 10 tabs open in Chrome and a mu­sic player run­ning in the back­ground. Hon­estly, that’s ex­actly what we wanted to see.

How­ever, one of the most im­por­tant as­pects of a Chrome­book is its bat­tery life, and un­for­tu­nately the Spin 11 disappointed here. When we looped a lo­cal video at 1080p run­ning in VLC, the de­vice died after just 7 hours and 34 min­utes.

For a Chrome­book, this is well be­low the cat­e­gory av­er­age. For in­stance, the sim­i­larly con­fig­ured (and older) Dell Chrome­book 13 scored al­most dou­ble when run­ning the same test, at around 14 hours.

Over­all, the Acer falls in line with sim­i­lar de­vices, but when you con­sider the in­cluded sty­lus and car­ry­ing case, it looks like a bar­gain.

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