Acer Chromebook R13 review

A premium 2-in-1 Chromebook with some superb standout features

IT Pro Recommended
Price
£333
  • Impressive battery life; Aluminium encased design; ChromeOS works beautifully with 2-in-1s; Decent keyboard and trackpad; Android support
  • No support for Windows apps; Fairly heavy; No keyboard backlighting

The Acer R13 represents a breed of Chromebook that offer users something a little more premium than the host of budget devices on the market. At 399, it's certainly a little pricier than the typical Chromebook, but you're getting some great standout features for that extra investment.

The R13 is a convertible device with a 360-degree hinge and a touchscreen, providing three configurations: Laptop, tent and tablet. It's also packed with a seriously impressive battery, and even supports the installation of Android apps through Google's beta programme.

Design

Built from silver aluminium with some pleasingly shiny chamfered edges, the Chromebook R13 looks sleek and feels way more premium than its 399 price would suggest. The Acer logo is also silver, and sits nicely on the lid, although the effect is slightly marred by the presence of the brightly coloured Google Chrome logo that detracts from the overall sleek finish.

That aluminium design works well for a 2-in-1 convertible, as it gives the device the durability you want from a tablet - that reassurance that it may be able to handle a few bumps and scrapes. The build itself features an angular design that gives it a blocky look - although not to everyone's taste, we found it added to the overall sturdy effect.

The R13 weighs just under 1.5kg, which is substantially heavier than rivals such as the 1.1Kg Samsung Chromebook Plus, although at 15mm it is only slightly thicker. While it is certainly small enough to carry around during a working day, we would have prefered something a little lighter, particularly for tablet use.

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That solid build quality shines through when you flip the Chromebook over to tent or tablet mode, and the 360-degree hinge provides enough resistance to make the device feel solid in its various positions. Its tablet form is by far its weakest, as it's just a little too heavy to be used comfortably in the hands over extended sessions.

One gripe we had with the hinge was its particularly offensive use of cheap plastic as a coating, which is somewhat hidden when the Chromebook is in a laptop position, but sticks out awkwardly in tablet mode. Another small annoyance is that it lacks colour variations and is only available in silver, which is particularly irritating when the Acer Chromebook 14 is available in gold as well.

In terms of ports, on its left side the R13 is fitted with a single USB 3.0 port, an HDMI port, and a microSD card slot. You also get a USB Type-C port that will be mainly used for power, although it's nice to have options. On its right side the Chromebook only features a headphone jack and a lock slot, sitting adjacent to the power button. Overall we felt this provided enough versatility for most users, although if you need an extra USB 3.0 slot there is also a USB-C to 3.0 adapter included.

Keyboard and trackpad

Although this Chromebook sits on the pricier side of the budget spectrum, this is still a low-end device, so don't expect any frills like keyboard backlighting.

What you do get is a well-designed keyboard, providing decent feedback during key presses and a nicely spaced layout that won't trip up your typing. This review was typed up using the keyboard, and we can say it was a joy to use.

The trackpad is similarly impressive, providing a decent sized space that feels smooth and responsive. It also performs well with finger gestures and provided a pleasant experience when navigating documents and web pages.

Display

A 13.3in screen at 1920x1080p is a decent size for both laptop and tablet use. Viewing angles offer reasonable flexibility (although nothing too impressive) but its biggest issue is its glossy finish and black borders, which will create a nightmare for those who obsess over fingerprint marks.

In tablet or tent mode, we found the touchscreen display to be responsive and pleasant to use. Although we barely used its tablet configuration, mainly because it's too heavy to use comfortably, its tent shape works beautifully for watching videos or displaying infographics at work.

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