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

Hardware & Performance

The model we reviewed came with 64GB of eMMC storage, although a smaller 32GB option is available at a slightly lower price. With the inclusion of some preinstalled Google apps, this is reduced down to around 55GB. This isn't a particularly impressive amount, but with Google Drive integrated right into the OS, you shouldn't require much physical storage space anyway.

The R13's 4GB of RAM and 2.1GHz quad-core MediaTek MT8173 processor gave a lackluster performance in our benchmark test. In our JetStream benchmark of JavaScript performance, the R13 scored a fairly dismal 56 - in comparison, HP's excellent 600 Chromebook 13 achieved a score of 128.

Thankfully, given how lightweight Chrome OS is, performance is still nippy enough to provide a genuinely pleasant browsing experience with some extra juice for light multitasking. Google Chrome works beautifully on the R13, and it can easily handle a significant number of tabs before starting to buckle.

Where the R13 really shines is its battery life. In our video playback test the battery was fully drained in 12 hours and 35 mins, actually exceeding Acer's estimate of 12 hours. If you're using the Chromebook as mainly a browsing tool, you could eke out even more. This is seriously impressive, and is certainly value for money given the price point.

Android apps

Google has slowly begun to roll out support for Android apps to a small number of Chromebooks, the R13 being one of them. But as the Google Play store is only available through a beta channel, we're reluctant to review its functionality until full release. What we can say is that providing users with the option of installing Android apps on a Chromebook is certainly a welcome prospect.

Ultimately, Chromebooks are designed for browsing and using web-based apps. Most popular productivity tools are accessible through a browser, so while the idea of downloading a desktop version of Slack or Dropbox might be appealing for some users, we suspect it will only be useful for accessing a few favourite mobile apps.

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In most cases Google provides some decent alternatives to Microsoft products, particularly Google Docs word processing and Drive storage. It may be that you use some of these services regularly, which will make moving to ChromeOS a breeze - but for those who regularly turn to applications built for Windows may find the lack of support for installed software frustrating at first.

Verdict

The R13 is perfect for those users looking for something a little more premium than the budget Chromebooks. At 399, you're getting the efficiency of ChromeOS with the flexibility of a convertible.

That impressive battery life also makes it incredibly useful to business customers, as it will reliably run through a full day's work without conking out midway through a meeting. You are also able to access a host of tools through ChromeOS apps and web-based applications, including a host of Microsoft Office alternatives.

As with any convertible, you will need to decide if you'll actually use the various modes in your work. If you don't quite fancy a convertible, there's likely nothing here that would persuade you to fork out the extra couple of hundred on the R13. Cheaper alternatives are available, including the Acer Chromebook 14, which features the same aluminium design. If you're after something with a higher resolution screen, you could go for the QHD Samsung Chromebook Pro, which also supports Android apps.

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Although performance was a little disappointing, the R13 is still capable of handling day to day activity, including multi-tab browsing and some light multitasking. If you are in need of a no frills machine that is easy to use and will survive a full day of work, the Acer R13 is a solid choice that won't break the bank.

Verdict

A killer battery life and lightweight ChromeOS combine to create a 2-in-1 dream, that’s only let down by its processor performance and a heavy carry weight. If you’re not after a convertible, there are some cheaper options available with the same performance.

CPUMediaTek Quad-Core MT8173
RAM4GB
Storage64GB eMMC
Display13.3in, 1920 x 1080 FHD
PortsUSB Type-C, USB 3.0, HDMI, microSD, headphone jack
Dimensions15mm, 1.49kg
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