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Hands on: Acer Spin 7

Acer’s Spin 7 is the thinnest 2-in- 1 yet, but it’s not insubstantial

Acer’s Spin 7 is the world’s thinnest 2-in-1, and that’ll turn your head.

The 2-in-1 notebook isn’t a new concept, but its design certainly hasn’t been settled. Acer is the perfect example of that. Over the past few years it has tried a number of options, the most recent being the Acer Aspire Switch 12 Alpha. That’s not a particularly old system – but at IFA 2016, Acer has decided to serve up what might be seen as a successor.

Okay, so it’s not exactly in the same arena. The Switch 12 Alpha is a rather small notebook, while the Spin 7 is a bit larger, due to its 14-inch screen. But it’s not as large as you’d expect. Acer has selected a thin-bezel design to keep the overall footprint within the bounds of what you’d expect for a 13-inch notebook. It’s a touchscreen, of course, and offers 1080p resolution.

The Spin 7 is light, but not so light that it seems flimsy. 

Size is a big part of the Spin 7’s story. Aside from thin bezels, it’s also thin, measuring barely more than 10 millimeters. Acer says that makes it the thinnest convertible 2-in-1 on the market so far, though the word “convertible” is important to that claim. There are other 2-in-1s, with a detachable stand-alone tablet portion alongside a keyboard, which are thinner.

It certainly feels that thin in-hand, and it helps reduce what would normally be an awkward display size for tablet use. Make no mistake – like most PCs of this size, this isn’t a good tablet. But reducing the size and weight helps, and may make the Spin 7 tolerable for on-the-go tablet use. In small doses.

As a laptop, the Spin 7 works better than most. It boasts all-aluminum, fanless design, which makes it rigid. It’s reasonably light at 2.7 pounds, but not so light that it feels flimsy. The 1080p display looks bright and bold. The keyboard, while not best-in-class, is good enough to do its job without annoying.

Best of all, the system has a double-wide touchpad. We’ve seen this design before. HP used a similar setup with some of its older Envy laptops, though the idea didn’t stick around for long. That was a shame. Ultrawide touchpads, when properly tuned, can greatly improve the usable space. We didn’t get enough time with Acer’s to definitively call it excellent, but we ran into no immediate problems with sensitivity or palm rejection.

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The hardware is what you’d expect. It has an Intel Core i7 processor with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB solid state drive. Most systems in the price range have similar equipment, and a few are only available with a slower processor, like Intel’s Core m3.

There are some points that’ll cause controversy. For example, the system uses two USB Type-C ports, rather than more conventional connectivity. That’s sure to cause headaches for users who aren’t prepared with the latest-and-great peripherals.

Some might also take issue with the exact selection of processor. Intel has discontinued the Core M series for the Core i5 and i7 lines with the 7th-generation Intel Core launch, but Intel has also re-introduced the “Y” series chips, which have a lower thermal design power than other Core mobile hardware. In practice, that’ll probably mean performance that’s not quite on par with the fastest competition – though it’s likely no slouch.

Battery life is quoted at eight hours. As always, that should be taken with a grain of salt. Manufacturer claims of battery life depend on the particulars of their testing, so it’s hard to compare.

Acer’s Spin 7 probably isn’t jaw-dropping, but it feels like a fundamentally solid system. It’s thin, light, quick, and has some nice extras, like the ultrawide touchpad. The price tag of $1,200 isn’t low, but it’s not at all unreasonable for a system with its specifications. We think it’ll do well when it arrives in October – and if you’re looking for a 2-in-1, put it on your short list.

Highs

  • Solid, all-aluminum design
  • Extremely slim for a convertible
  • Huge touchpad

Lows

  • Processor performance is a question
  • Relies on USB Type-C