More and more laptops nowadays are slimmer
More and more laptops nowadays are slimmer, lighter ‘two-in-one’ touchscreen machines, with a 360-degree hinge that lets you fold the keyboard out of the way and pretend you’re using a tablet. e Spin 3 isn’t quite that. It has the convertible feature, but it’s a full-size 15-inch laptop that weighs over 2kg, or four-and-a-half bags of sugar in old money.
That’s not so heavy that you couldn’t lug it around with you, but it wouldn’t be easy. Basically, it’s a full-blown Windows 10 computer with touchscreen operation thrown in. Because Windows 10 is specifically designed to work just as well in Tablet mode as with a mouse or touchpad, that’s a sensible proposition. And although it’s fairly chunky, the Spin 3 looks pretty smart for a laptop costing under £500, with its black plastic finish enhanced by Acer’s classy ‘shale’ texture effect.
The keyboard takes advantage of the Spin 3’s generous dimensions
The keyboard takes advantage of the Spin 3’s generous dimensions to include a proper numeric keypad, which will keep your spreadsheet work quick if you’re used to working on a desktop PC. e keys are satisfyingly clicky, and there’s little give in the case when typing hard. We liked the touchpad, too.
On the other side of the hinge is a 15.6in touchscreen, which feels like a luxury compared to more portable 11 and 13in machines – until you turn it on. Sure, there’s enough physical space to fit two document windows side by side, or spread out your palettes in creative programs. But with just 1366×768 pixels, you don’t get enough detail. User interface elements take up more space than content. And while buyers with less than perfect eyesight might be happy that everything looks relatively big, they’ll wish it was less fuzzy. Limited brightness and contrast complete a lacklustre impression. In the US, Acer offers a Full HD screen, and that would make a big difference.
There’s also corner-cutting on the inside. Intel’s i3-6006U is among the weakest of the Core series processors, and in our tests it struggled to hit a third of the speed of a mid-range i5 PC in everyday tasks. You wouldn’t want to rely on it for regular photo or video editing. e 1TB hard drive does have a relatively large 128MB cache, which means the operating system doesn’t constantly slow things down swapping little chunks of data back and forth. But Windows 10 still doesn’t feel anywhere near as responsive as if it were installed on an SSD.
We did get surprisingly acceptable results in 3D games, managing to run some smoothly at 720p HD resolution with high graphics settings. Smaller i3 laptops we’ve tried couldn’t keep up, probably because heat couldn’t escape their slim cases fast enough. And we were also pleased to find the Spin 3 lasted seven and a half hours in our video- playback test.
If you do want a giant convertible, there are more powerful options available. Dell’s Inspiron 15 5000 2-in-1 (£699 from Dell www.snipca.com/23755; see our review, Issue 483) comes with a new i5-7200U processor and a 256GB SSD, but costs £200 more. HP’s Envy x360 15 (£850 from Currys www.snipca.com/ 23757) feels more upmarket, with its aluminium case, 1TB hard drive and 128GB SSD, but is even more expensive. And it still doesn’t offer a particularly great screen or keyboard.
By comparison, the Spin 3 looks like a bargain – but the limited performance and dated screen mean it just doesn’t feel nice enough to use.
VERDICT: Acer has made a full-size convertible look affordable, but it’s not well-equipped enough to feel practical
ALTERNATIVE: Dell Inspiron 15 5000 2-in-1 £699 Has a much
faster i5 and Full HD screen, but costs £200 more and lasts two hours less