• Operating System: Google Chrome
  • Processor: Intel Celeron N3350
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 500
  • Memory: 4GB LPDDR3
  • Storage: 32GB SSD, microSD support
  • Connectivity: 802.11ac WiFi
  • Dimensions: 295.91 x 205.99 x 20.07mm
  • Weight: 1.36kg
  • Pros:
  • 2-in-1 design
  • Solid build
  • Cons:
  • Display
  • Battery life

A New Twist To Chromebooks

How relevant are Chromebooks outside of the education sector? Well, individual consumers can also own them now by buying one from the various vendors. So, when Acer contacted us about taking a look at the Chromebook Spin 11, we decided to give it a go.

The Chromebook Spin 11 sports an understated matte silver-coloured plastic body. Although its body is plastic, this Chromebook is surprisingly solid as it barely flexes, making it tough enough to survive the average school kid (its intended user base). To make it a product that’s affordable for most people, Acer avoided trying to do anything too fancy with it, going with a 2-in-1 design so that it can be used as a normal laptop or a tablet. However, it’s quite bulky and heavy when considering its use in tablet mode, despite the plastic body. It’s not a glaring issue when you consider its use as a normal laptop or when it’s on a desk, but it can be tiring if you try to hold it for long.

There aren’t a lot of ports on this Chromebook, which is unfortunate if understandable. In total, there are two USB Type-A ports, two USB Type-C ports (either one can be used for charging), a 3.5mm jack for you to plug in a headset, and a micro SD card reader. To be fair, this is enough for children and casual PC users. Besides the ports, there are also two cameras on the Chromebook Spin 11. One is located just above the keyboard, while the other is above the display. The former is useful when the device is used in tent/tablet mode, while the one at the top of the display acting more like a conventional camera on mobile devices.

For most users, you should have no issues with web browsing and word processing here, though the keyboard’s key travel feels too short and doesn’t give sufficient tactile feedback (feels a bit mushy). You can also draw on it with the right app using the included stylus, but note that the device and stylus don’t have the sensitivity and latency response of dedicated drawing tablets. A laptop like this is also a more affordable way for people to give their kids access to online learning apps and remote classrooms, which the cameras can help with (for one-to-one lessons).

Most apps run smoothly on the Spin 11 and it’s even capable of running some games. However, it’s obvious that it not really designed to excel at entertainment, since the volume and display’s brightness and image quality are lacking. For a device that runs on Chrome OS, the battery isn’t all that great either, running out in about 5-6 hours if you’re actively using it.

CHIP CONCLUDE: If you need something basic or a flexible device for your kids to learn things, then this 2-in-1 styled Chromebook is definitely an option to consider.

(to be published in issue October 2018)