Acer’s design renaissance continues with the Spin 7, which features the 360 degree screen hinge seen on the rest of the Spin range, coupled with the litheness of its Swift 7 stablemate.
The first thing that grabs your attention is how thin this device is. Usually, the transition from a traditional laptop form factor (such as the Swift 7) to a 2-in-1 adds some girth to the chassis in the same way as an ill-advised Christmas dinner might do to the waist. However, Acer have pulled off a remarkable bit of design and left the thickness at a shade over 10mm and the weight at 1.2kg. The Spin 7 is barely noticeable when dropped into a shoulder bag, and with the screen rotated into tablet mode, can easily be held in one hand. The fanless cooling system adds to the tablet feel of the device, while the aluminium case gives an impression of quality.
However, this design is not without compromises. The first, and most obvious, is the CPU. Like the Swift 7, Acer have had to opt for a low power 1.3GHz Core i7 CPU (in the model I played with) which will cope with whatever Microsoft Office can throw at it, but will balk when asked to do more intensive work, such as video editing, and the Intel 615 HD Graphics won’t allow many modern games to be played. However, that is not the target market for this laptop (and Acer will happily sell you a Predator, if gaming is your thing.) With 8GB RAM and a 256GB SSD, the Spin 7 will fly through pretty much all other productivity tasks.
The chiclet keyboard is a pleasure to use, with well spaced keys and 1.2mm of key travel, which is impressive in such a slim chassis. There is very little flex or bounce while typing, and touch-typing presents no problems. However, the lack of a backlight (in common with the Swift 7) is disappointing – the Spin 7 is not so thin that the keys could not be illuminated. The over-large trackpad from the Swift 7 also makes a reappearance and is again a delight to use. Although the chrome trim may not be to all tastes and is a little at odds with the black aluminium shell.
Acer have followed the industry march to ever thinner bezels on the screen, with an impressively large 14-inch display and the webcam in the correct place – top and centre (unlike the nosecam of the Dell XPS 13.) Unfortunately, the webcam is not Windows Hello compatible, and there is no fingerprint reader on the trackpad of the model I looked at. The gorilla-glass screen itself is bright, clear and glossy, with deep blacks and bright colours. At 1920 x 1080, the resolution is a little low for a premium laptop. As a touch-screen, the display is also a magnet for fingerprints, but that really is nit-picking at what is a smooth and fluid multi-touch experience.
Connectivity comes courtesy of two USB-C ports (with one providing power.)
The final compromise made is on battery life. Acer claim 8 hours, but even in my limited hands on time (which mainly involved browsing and video), the battery charge plummeted. I will update this following a longer-term test, but in the meantime I have my doubts that the Spin 7 would make it through a day of moderate use without recourse to a power outlet.
The Acer is one of the few 2-in-1 laptops that come near to realising the goal of being both a tablet and a laptop (without requiring a detachable screen.) It is impressively slim and has a quality feel. Performance aside, the lack of a backlit keyboard is frustrating and the battery life is questionable, but if one considers the target market of this laptop, it does an admirable job and would not be out of place in arsenal of any mobile user.