The market for 2-in-1 laptops is not new. However, they sometimes tend to be half-packaged devices. This can range from poor hardware choices to an unreasonably light selection of ports. However, the Acer Spin 5 (2021) is different. It has all the makings of an incredible machine.
Design and build
When you pick up the Spin 5 for the first time, you immediately realize how compact it is. It sports a 14.9mm minimal magnesium-aluminum chassis that weighs only 1.2kg. Moreover, its 3:2 design makes the laptop feel slightly narrower than usual but also taller. Although, this does not take much adjustment to get used to. In addition to its solid build, the hinge on the Spin 5 is also extremely sturdy. Opening and closing its lid is satisfying and premium although it takes a few attempts to grip the lid properly. With this especially being a 360-degree hinge style, it is impressive that the laptop does not start to feel flimsy at any point.
We feel Acer has paid attention to this aspect as well as making a relatively bottom heavy build that stays grounded even when the lid is opened with one hand for traditional laptop form factor usage. All across the machine, you will also notice rubber accents. There are some to cushion the display, some for its base at the bottom to facilitate cooling and two small additions towards the bottom edge of the lid. This allows for some extra grip when using the Spin 5 on a table. That aside, you find an in-built stylus on the laptop’s right edge, which comes in extremely handy with on-screen interaction.
Display and multimedia
Up front, the Spin 5 sports a 13.5-inch 3:2 VertiView IPS display. This comes with 100 per-cent sRGB coverage and a 2,256 x 1,504 resolution. In terms of sharpness, we have no complaints about the display but viewing angles are slightly poor. The display shows shifts in color temperatures which is not ideal.
If you are looking for the most immersive experience, this is not it either. The bezels on the Spin 5’s display are quite large, especially the top and bottom. The top houses a sub-par 720p web-camera but we think the larger bezel is more because the display’s Wacom AES 1.0 digitizer. Combined with Acer’s Active Stylus, you get an intuitive browsing and writing experience.
We often found ourselves navigating web pages using the stylus or exploring our creative side by drawing. Moreover, it allowed us to be more precise with our interaction. The more we have used the Spin 5, the more we also think that it is geared towards productivity and student-centric work. For example, that 3:2 design for the display is excellent for split-screen multitasking and note-taking.
However, as we have hinted at earlier, multimedia is not the most enjoyable due to this same design. You have to adapt to the larger bezels but also to black bars when watching traditional 16:9 content. As for audio, the experience is also a let-down. The dts-powered speakers on-board lack bass and depth to sound. Good quality flagship smartphone can sometimes sound better than the ones on here so if you are looking for a serious audio experience, using headphones is your best bet.
Generally, 2-in-1 machines get caught up with looking sleek, slim and lightweight. And in the process, they forget about basic port allocation. But this is another instance where the Spin 5 excels. The left edge of the laptop is packed with ports including a proprietary charging port, two Thunderbolt 4 Type-C USB ports, an HDMI input, a Type-A USB 3.1 Gen 1 port and a microSD card reader. On the right, you find the Kensington lock, another Type-A USB 3.1 Gen 1 port, the 3.5mm headphone jack, the power button as well as LED indicators for battery. The Active Stylus also slots into an housing on the the right side.
For any kind of connectivity driven work, we faced no issue with the Spin 5. It was easy to connect it to an external monitor or to transfer files via Thunderbolt 4. We also like that Type-A USB ports are present here to support any attachments without the need for an adaptor. As for wireless connectivity options, you find WiFi and Bluetooth 5.0 support.
Keyboard and trackpad
The keyboard on the Spin 5 is not groundbreaking by any means. It has a chiclet-style which does make it slightly mushy however it is not bad. Travel is limiting and if you are coming from a mechanical keyboard, it will take time to get used to. However, for on-the-go work, we do not have many complaints. Acer has also covered the deck of the machine with an antimicrobial solution which is great to maintain cleanliness.
As flat feeling as the keyboard may be, the trackpad on the device more than makes up for it. It is tactile, premium and responsive throughout. We loved using the trackpad to navigate through our work and it could go as far as replacing your mouse for a lot of things. You also find a fingerprint scanner here for biometrics so on the overall, the trackpad here is on of the best you can find. A larger size could have made gestures a bit easier but this is not a big deal.
Performance and thermal management
Unsurprisingly, daily performance is excellent on the Acer Spin 5. In our variant, we have the 11th Gen Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor with a 1TB SSD storage drive and 16GB of RAM. This hardware package is in line with what you should expect from a 2-in-1 of this calibre. Work and creativity driven tasks work just fine on the Spin 5 with the added RAM also coming in handy for heavy multitasking. We were able to watch multiple 4K streams on on Google Chrome with extra tabs and other programs open in the background without the laptop budging.
The temperature of the machine also remains manageable through heavy workload which is great. But when pushed heavily, the underside of the laptop becomes a bit warm to touch. This is nothing to worry about and you will only notice it if you are using the laptop on a couch or bed. Otherwise, on a table, the laptop maintains a good amount of airflow to stay both cool and quiet.
While you can play basic games on the Spin 5, it is not a strong recommendation for gaming. The Iris Xe graphics are great but they will not replace the power that a dedicated GPU brings to any computer. For light video edits and photo editing, the power on-board is plenty. But as soon as you start working with rendering or any form of animation, a bottleneck will be evident.
With many laptops with Intel’s new processors showing improved battery life over the last couple of months, this is no different. However, we feel battery life could be slightly better when it comes to video consumption. At half brightness, watching 1080p YouTube videos on loop when connected to WiFi gave us 3 hours and 52 minutes of endurance. With mixed usage though, especially work involving browsing, text or data, the laptop should last between 7-10 hours.
As far as recharging is concerned, the 65Whr battery takes around 1 hour and 5 minutes to fully juice up. This is done via the 65W Type-C USB charger provided out of the box. We tried smartphone Type-C USB chargers including a 33W and a 25W one to check if those worked but they did not seem to charge the laptop.
Available for Dh4,699, the Acer Spin 5 is a great value for money product. It offers conveniences like full touchscreen support, high-end internals and solid battery backup in an unrivalled form factor and build. Whether you are a student looking for an everyday laptop, a creative looking specifically for touchscreen support or a demanding user looking for raw power, the Spin 5 should cover all your needs.