Acer recently sent out its Chromebook Spin 713 — sold with designation CP713-2W — out for review. And, although I expected a great experience from the company, this gadget still managed to surprise me.
Now, that should come as no shock to anybody who has used Acer's previous Chromebooks. But this device, specifically model number CP713-2W-5874, managed to go well above and beyond expectations. So it's well worth diving in to see how this device stood up to others in the category. Especially since every Chromebook effectively comes with the same OS features and software.
With an MSRP of $629.99, this Acer Chromebook delivers a ton of extra frills and more power than just about anybody would need. Despite that, it also delivers brilliantly on battery life.
Of course, it also has a few shortcomings. At least compared to some competitors. Not all of those are just out-of-the-blue, though. At least one of those is going to be expected outright as a matter of course for laptops. But we'll get to that momentarily.
Acer 'doesn't fix what isn't broken' on the Chromebook Spin 713
The most immediately noticeable thing about the hardware, upon opening up the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 for review, is how familiar it is. That's not because this is a Chromebook either. Acer is iterating on its previous premium Chrome OS gadgets with this device. Keeping this simple, with subtle accentuations like the high-sheen metal chamfered edges and blade-like shape.
The company also put rubber nubs on the lid that wrap around to the lid itself. So they protect the frame from damage when folded into tablet mode. Or from whatever surface it's placed on when laid flat. The hinge also helps raise the back of the keyboard for better
The lid is aluminum while the keyboard and base, helping keep weight low at just 3lbs, are built from polycarbonates. The touchpad is Gorilla Glass and antimicrobial. As is the display panel, while the former is also moisture resistant.
Just about every imaginable port is included; even a full-sized HDMI port. Each of those is snug, showing no more jostle than the 2-in-1 hinge does under strain. Or the hardware keys. Which is to say "none." There's no frame creaking either.
That's likely down to the decision to meet ruggedization standards. This laptop has been tested for both low and high temperatures, rain, humidity, vibration, and mechanical shock. It's also been tested to survive transit drops up just over four feet. That's all part of MIL-STD 810G standardization.
Stacking atop all of that, Acer ensured the keyboard on this model of its Chromebook Spin 713 is backlit — so there was never difficulty typing under any lighting during the review. The keyboard, while not the most comfortable I've used by any stretch, is more comfortable than most I've used.
The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 display is a force to be reckoned with
Acer topped its Chromebook Spin 713 with a great display and my review showed that, in fact, it's among the best displays to be found on a Chromebook. Not only is it an Acer CineCrystal LED-backlit TFT LCD panel. It's set at a perfect browsing and multitasking ratio of 3:2. And viewing angles are legitimately still good at 170-degrees, just as the company claims.
It's also a 2K ISP panel at 2,256 x 1,504 pixels. And what that means, at 13.5-inches, is that things remain crystal clear at all of those viewing angles too. Particularly at higher brightness levels. Outdoor use is entirely possible with this Chromebook at just 60 or 70-percent brightness.
The touchscreen, meanwhile, is coated in antimicrobial Corning Gorilla Glass. That means not only that it will survive drops far better than it might otherwise. But also that it's just a bit safer for multi-user circumstances than other display panels.
In terms of usability, the screen on the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is among the smoothest I've used. It's responsive, showing no input lag, and swaps easily between landscape and portrait modes in tablet mode.
Finally, if all of that just isn't quite enough, this laptop has a full-size HDMI port. So it can easily be connected to a secondary display. Although I had problems getting Chrome OS to recognize my television. So it likely won't work with every display.
Battery life is subjective but is still something this Chromebook does very well
Battery life — aside from charging — is entirely subjective. So mileage is going to vary quite a bit on that front. But there are at least a few aspects of my usage of the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 that should be clarified for this segment of the review.
First, most users will likely see better battery life than I did. That's because I kept my volume at 65-percent and screen brightness at 80-percent. The keyboard backlighting was kept at 75-percent throughout my battery test. All of that is overkill, without question. I also tested this under constant use, never stepping away.
My usage included just short of an hour of photo editing using an Android app, a web app, and the built-in basic tools. It also included just over an hour of video streaming, 20 minutes of game streaming via Google Stadia, and over an hour of music streaming. Despite all of that — and having more than three dozen tabs open and working at any given time — this Chromebook lasted right around nine hours. Nine hours and three minutes, to be exact.
So this Chromebook should easily last closer to 1o or even 11 hours under more typical browser-only use.
For charging, that didn't take forever either. Some high-end Chromebooks, such as my daily driver — a Samsung Galaxy Chromebook — take over two and a half hours to charge. The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 never took more than an hour and a half under this review.
Accomplish just about anything with this Chromebook
Now, even under the heaviest testing, the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 never seemed to heat up much under review. It didn't matter that I was using a half-dozen Android apps. Or that I was multitasking those with a Linux app, photo editing software, and dozens upon dozens of tabs — up to 75 at one point. This Chromebook never showed signs of being overly stressed.
That likely comes down to Acer's decision to utilize a tenth-generation Intel Core i5 with this particular model. In fact, that was an Intel Core i5-10210U, clocked at 1.6GHz but boostable up to 4.2GHz with 6MB cache. Even under load, Chrome OS managed to keep everything well under wraps with that hardware.
Having an Intel UHD Graphics 620 chip likely helped as well. As did the 8GB LPDDR4 dual-channel RAM and 128GB of NVMe SSD storage. Most Chromebooks utilize eMMC storage, which isn't nearly as fast.
That isn't to say the experience was perfect. An Intel Core i7 processor will handle photo processing better. It will handle other tasks slightly better too. But that's not going to be a big enough difference that most users will notice. In fact, only those who are doing things like coding apps should worry about that. And even then, this Chromebook should keep up just fine.
The one caveat to that was the fans. While most Chromebooks don't require those, this one does. And those can certainly be heard under heavier use. Especially in quieter environments.
Audio is undoubtedly the 'catch' for this Chrome OS gadget
Acer touts its Chromebook Spin 713 as packing support for high-definition audio. It also packs the gadget with two stereo speakers along the bottom and two digital mics to back that support up. But it falls apart on one of those fronts. Almost entirely, in fact.
The audio quality during video calls and other recording was fine, of course. That's likely because that type of audio doesn't require a lot of complex frequencies to be managed. But, while it isn't immediately clear why it's the case, audio from the speakers during music could only be described as "tinny."
The mics, during calls, worked as well as any other Chrome OS gadget I've ever used. Audio from the speakers, conversely, worked well. But there's no bass representation in complex film or TV scenes. Or in music. From any genre. In fact, mids aren't great either, tending to be drowned out by the high notes.
Fortunately, Bluetooth 5.0 is part of the build. So wireless audio quality is top-notch — potentially pointing to a hardware rather than software problem with the speakers. So is the audio experience via the 3.5mm audio jack. Outputs over HDMI and via USB-C worked brilliantly too. So it's only the speakers that are going to be disappointing under just about any circumstances.
The problem with that is that makes this a much less-than-ideal option for entertainment, despite having a screen with 170-degrees of clear and clean viewing.
Connections are as solid as they come
As noted already, I primarily utilized the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 for work during this review. But that's not necessarily going to take away from anything. This is one device that's built from the ground up to get real work done. And that shows through perhaps nowhere better than in connectivity.
Now, we've already discussed Bluetooth 5.0, and the ports have already been revealed in the hardware images above. This Chromebook won't be disappointing anybody on those fronts. It's just about as well-specced for wired and nearby connections as any laptop can be.
But Acer didn't stop there. The robustness of connections carries over and is well represented by the fact that the company includes support for WiFi 6. And that's not even widely available yet.
Specifically, Acer packed this laptop with an Intel WiFi6 AX201 chip. That supports 802.11ax Dual Band connections on either 2.4 GHz and 5GHz channels. And it includes 2×2 MU-MIMO technology, so it's going to be as blistering fast as can be put out by routers supporting the latest technology.
As a result, not only could I easily play through Google Stadia streaming gaming sessions at full resolution readily. I could also keep that running on a second display while doing other things on the primary display. There were never any drops or unexpected slow-downs either.
All of that is setting aside the standard Chrome OS connections that are made possible at the OS level. For example, the ability to connect to a smartphone and get quicker unlocks, text messages, and more.
The answer to the unasked question is a resounding 'yes'
Summarily, this review of the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 shows that the company hasn't forgotten how to make premium Chromebooks. But it also takes matters a bit further. Acer has been a profoundly prodigious Chromebook OEM from the beginning. And, as a result, its premium Chromebooks are built with a clear understanding of value.
To get these types of features in a standard laptop, whether a backlit keyboard, extra ports, or a solid design, is typically more expensive. And as often as not, the design is traded for battery life or other characteristics in those devices. That's not going to be the case here.
The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is a workhorse that favors iteration on a well-thought-out build in order to focus on performance and features. Acer accomplishes that goal handily, offering a time-tested aesthetic and quality with leading-edge chips, memory, and storage. WiFi and Bluetooth follow that in lockstep, ensuring that the top-tier experience doesn't end when collaborative work starts. Or while gaming.
Where this device doesn't live up to that is on audio. But that can be forgiven with consideration for the options it provides for listening otherwise. And the speakers perform just fine for video conferencing while the mics perform well enough for other audio needs.
The question of whether or not this Chromebook is worth buying then is an easy one. The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 stands as one of the best Chromebooks that can currently be bought. And it does that without causing too much strain on the wallet.