Acer Chromebook Spin 11
Acer spins out a winning ChromeOS machine
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.