Acer Spin 5 Review – A bright display and a comfortable keyboard
The Acer Spin 5 is not a bad laptop. You might justify buying it because it’s a solidly built convertible with respectable specs for the money, plus a comfortable keyboard and trackpad (not a guarantee in this price range). You might also be intrigued by its Amazon Alexa integration, which lets you perform certain tasks with hands-free voice commands. Let’s find out the detail in Acer Spin 5 Review.
The Spin 5 isn’t visually exciting; it just looks like a slab of metal. To Acer’s credit, it is real metal, and not plastic with a coat of paint on it. The dark-gray lid has a crosshatch pattern. Acer’s logo is in silver, which matches the hinges.
Inside, the display is surrounded by thick, ugly bezels. The deck is the same gunmetal gray as the lid, but with a rougher texture and without the pattern. The Spin logo is in white above the island-style keyboard, making it more prominent than usual. In the past, that moniker was merely imprinted on the deck.
Also, in a strange decision, Acer not only put the fingerprint reader on the touchpad but also made it a different color (black) and a different material. It stands out like a sore thumb — a detail that feels more like an afterthought than a deliberate decision.
Keyboard and trackpad
The keyboard and trackpad are the Spin 5’s best features, even if they’re not perfect.
The trackpad is large enough to scroll around comfortably, and has well-defined edges so it’s clear when you do run out of room. While it’s not covered in glass, it still feels smooth and precise, plus it offers four sensitivity levels so you can fine-tune the feel of tapping and right-clicking. The trackpad also offers plenty of customization features, including three-finger and four-finger taps that you can map to things like switching apps, switching desktops, adjusting volume, and launching Cortana. The only downside is for folks who like to press down on the trackpad to click: It starts to feel pretty stiff as you move higher up the trackpad.
As for the keyboard, the chiclet-style keys produce a quiet but satisfying snap with a moderate amount of travel for an ultra-thin laptop. I took a typing test and managed 94 words per minute, versus 103 words per minute on the mechanical keyboard I use every day. I only wish there were more than one level of backlighting, and that the dedicated Page Up and Page Down keys weren’t so uncomfortably close to the left and right arrows. Even mapping them as alternate functions on other keys would have been preferable.
In my anecdotal experience, the Spin 5 did a fine job with lots of open browser tabs and productivity software. It can also just barely eke out some older 3D games (such as Borderlands 2) at 720p and 30 frames per second.
Unfortunately, the Spin 5’s thermal design has some serious downsides. On a table or desk, the Spin 5 becomes a white noise machine when the fans are on full blast, which can happen when the laptop is dealing with several bloated websites, trying to play a game, or even just downloading games from Steam. On a lap, it’s even worse, with the Spin 5’s bottom-facing fans firing a steady stream of hot air directly into your thigh. Acer may have been unwilling to let the edges of the device run too hot.
The Acer Spin 5’s performance results reflect this give-and-take between its high-end Core i7 mobile processor, its integrated graphics, and its thermal considerations.
The Acer Spin 5 is a decent midrange laptop with an Intel 8th Gen Intel Core processor, a bright display and a comfortable keyboard. But it runs hot and has lots of bloatware, and the battery doesn’t last as long as we’d like.
To get something better, you’ll also have to spend more money. The 13-inch Lenovo Yoga 720 with the same specs is $879; that machine has a sleeker design and longer battery life, but the keyboard isn’t as good as Acer’s. If you’re willing to give up 2-in-1 functionality, another option is the $749 Asus ZenBook UX330UA, which also lasts longer and offers a nicer design.
But if you’re willing to sacrifice some battery life to save a bit of money, the Spin 5 is a solid option that offers a great keyboard and a pretty display at an affordable price.