The $399.99 Acer Chromebook Spin 513 (at the moment listed at $349) is likely one of the very first Snapdragon-powered Chromebooks to hit the market. Particularly, it’s powered by the Snapdragon 7c Compute SC7180, the kind of chip you’d typically count on to see in a pill or cellphone. Simply from seeing that title, some readers can most likely predict precisely what this system goes to be: a light-weight, mediocre performer with glorious battery life.
That’s just about what it’s — however you get another good bonuses, too. The show is far nicer than these I’ve seen on different Chromebooks at this value. It’s moveable at 2.65 kilos, its audio system and microphones are serviceable, and it has a very clean Gorilla Glass touchpad.
If efficiency is your precedence, there are Chromebooks with higher processors you may get for this value. But when it’s not, the Chromebook Spin 513 outshines even more-expensive opponents in a couple of different areas.
Look via the Chromebooks accessible on the $300-$400 value level, and also you’ll see an entire lot of clunkers. Check out Lenovo’s $349 Flex Three Chromebook, for instance, or its $309 Chromebook C340. They’re thicker than the Spin 513, with massive bezels, they usually each seem like they had been in-built 2014.
However the Spin 513 appears to be like and feels prefer it belongs in a better value class. Acer’s mannequin is thinner than each of those units at 0.61 inches, and has a way more trendy look. The lid is made from aluminum, and the reflective Acer emblem provides some aptitude. The bezels on the edges and prime are fairly small, whereas nonetheless leaving loads of room to carry as a pill. It’s additionally fairly moveable at 2.65 kilos — straightforward to hold with one hand, and to slide right into a backpack or briefcase.
Talking of pill mode, the hinge is sturdy, and also you want two palms to open the lid. I’m okay with this, although, as a result of there’s additionally nearly no display wobble (and display wobble is the worst).
The chassis has another options you don’t usually see at this value level. The keyboard is backlit, which is a large shock. It additionally presents a cushty typing expertise, with satisfying keys which might be nonetheless quiet. I’m choosy about touchpads, however this one is sort of roomy, with a clean Gorilla Glass floor — I’d select it over loads of touchpads I’ve used on multi-thousand greenback Home windows laptops. And also you get an excellent, trendy port choice together with two USB Kind-C ports (supporting USB 3.2 Gen 1, DisplayPort, and DC-in), one USB 3.2 Gen 1 Kind-A, and a 3.5mm mixture audio jack. There’s a USB-C on either side, which I’m very completely happy about for charging comfort.
However the largest spotlight for me is the show. I typically count on to see unhealthy panels on the $349 value level — the Flex Three and the C340 are each small (11.6 inches), low-resolution (1366 x 768), and dim. However the Spin 513 has a fairly good 1920 x 1080 display, which is pretty much as good of a decision as you’ll ever see on any laptop computer at this value. It delivers a crisp image, and it will get vivid sufficient for even some out of doors use (should you’re within the shade). If you happen to’re searching for an reasonably priced Netflix machine, the Spin is a good candidate — particularly given its movie-friendly 16:9 facet ratio. Oh, and it even has USI stylus assist.
My one disappointment was audio. The Spin comes with two stereo audio system, in addition to two microphones. The Chromebook delivered respectable quantity — definitely sufficient to fill a room — however percussion was tinny as I listened to music, and you’ll neglect about bass solely. I additionally heard some occasional distortion at most quantity.
Inside, the 7c processor comes paired with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Some fashions will assist LTE connectivity, although my check unit didn’t.
The 7c definitely works — however the expertise was a bit sluggish. I’ve been utilizing the Spin as my main work driver for every week, and I used to be in a position to get finished most of the issues I wanted to — Google Docs for work, emailing, tweeting, and many others. However I obtained impatient at instances. Resizing a window or sending it to fullscreen, for instance, takes only a bit longer than it does on $600 units. There have been events the place my Google Doc would freeze, and I’d have to attend a pair seconds to renew working.
In contrast to with ARM Home windows machines, the Spin 513 doesn’t include restrictions on which Android apps you possibly can obtain. However a few of them had been glitchy. Slack, for instance, was solely usable in a tiny phone-sized window, and fully froze at any time when I attempted to fullscreen it. Gmail additionally often froze after I tried to archive messages by swiping, and I typically needed to repeat the motion. I didn’t have both challenge when utilizing the identical apps on the Intel-based Flex Three final week.
And a few issues didn’t work in any respect. Zoom conferences within the Zoom app weren’t attainable on this system — regardless of utilizing the identical web connection I all the time use, my audio lagged to date behind on calls that individuals couldn’t perceive me. Modifying a batch of pictures in Google Photographs was additionally a sluggish and stuttery expertise that I wouldn’t suggest. It’s laborious to know whether or not these could be attributed to Snapdragon compatibility points that may enhance over time, or whether or not they’re past what the processor can do.
Now, none of this implies the Spin 513 is a foul laptop computer. However it does imply I’m not the target market for this Chromebook, and my normal workplace workload is a bit above its very best ceiling. You definitely wouldn’t wish to use this should you’re doing something greater than what I used to be doing. That features something elaborate with Linux, and something that requires an exterior monitor.
For comparability, the Spin 513 is essentially competing with Mediatek and Intel Celeron machines. It’s tough to match the Snapdragon 7c to those chipsets (by way of energy) as a result of their structure is totally completely different. The perfect I can say is that anecdotally, I had a barely sooner expertise on the Flex Three with the Celeron N4020. Zoom calls had been extra possible on that machine (although they had been nonetheless unhealthy). With that mentioned, I don’t suppose the distinction is noticeable sufficient to make the Flex Three a greater purchase except you’re actually choosy. Each units are actually solely meant for primary duties. Suppose extra elementary college stage versus highschool or school.
The flipside of this low efficiency is that the Spin’s battery life is de facto glorious. I averaged 10 hours and 15 minutes to a cost. That was steady use, with a extra intense workload than anybody ought to actually be placing this Chromebook via, and display brightness at 50 %. In case your brightness will likely be decrease, you’re doing simpler issues than I’m, and also you’re taking some breaks (seemingly on all three counts), I think about you’ll be capable of go a pair days with no need an outlet. The 45W charger can also be fairly small, and gained’t add a lot weight to your backpack.
The large query with a Chromebook that prices $399.99 is whether or not the drawbacks are issues you possibly can dwell with. On this case, the massive disadvantage (and the massive space the place the Spin 513 is a bit behind opponents) is the processor and the restricted RAM. It’s necessary to grasp what this method isn’t made to do.
However should you’re largely searching for YouTube and lightweight searching, this Chromebook is certainly one of the best worth I’ve seen at its value level. In the case of the keyboard, touchpad, and display, in addition to the sturdy construct, hinge, and trendy port choice, it’s extra corresponding to one thing just like the $649 Pixelbook Go than to different funds Chromebooks just like the Flex Three and the C340.
The extra fascinating comparability is to Lenovo’s $279 Chromebook Duet, which additionally comes with 4GB of RAM, in addition to a MediaTek chip. If you happen to’re open to a pill kind issue, that system has higher battery life, and its processor flies. However it’s additionally fairly a small system (10.1 inches), so it gained’t be a greater purchase should you’re searching for a full-sized laptop computer.
The Chromebook Spin 513 gained’t be for everybody. However it’s definitely the system it got down to be — a long-lasting, moveable machine for mild workloads — and should you’re buying within the $399 vary, it’s definitely value a glance.
Pictures by Monica Chin / The Verge