PC

Sturdy hybrid for working on the go

One of my biggest gripes about 2-in-1 convertibles is their weight.

Because these hybrid devices - which can easily transform between laptop and tablet forms - have a keyboard, they weigh more than a tablet.

They also have a glass touchscreen, which makes them heavier than a similar non-touch clamshell notebook.

PC makers, though, have slimmed down their convertibles in recent years by using lightweight materials like magnesium.

An apt example is the new Acer Spin 5 convertible. Its magnesium-aluminium chassis tips the scales at 1.2kg, down from its aluminium-clad predecessor's 1.5kg.

The magnesium-aluminium body feels more sturdy than an all-magnesium chassis. The keyboard and palm rest do not exhibit any flex when pressure is applied.

The screen bezels have been slightly reduced to give the Spin 5 a more contemporary look. Overall, though, it looks boring and nondescript.

The notch on the front lip, which helps you grip and lift the lid, bothers me with its asymmetry. This notch is aligned with the touchpad, which is not located centrally but slightly to the left.

This Acer convertible appears to be targeted at mobile office workers - its 13.5-inch display comes with a 3:2 aspect ratio that offers more vertical screen real estate, unlike its predecessor's entertainment-centric 16:9 aspect ratio.

This touchscreen offers good viewing angles and is fairly bright. It also uses Wacom's active electrostatic technology which, coupled with the included Acer active stylus (with 4,096 pressure-sensitivity levels), offers an excellent pen experience that is responsive, lag-free and almost as good as using actual pen and paper.

My only grouse is that the stylus is too thin, though this also means the pen can be stored and charged in a storage slot on the right side of the Spin 5's chassis.​

  • FOR

    • Good selection of ports

    • Built-in Wacom-based stylus

    • Solid build

    AGAINST

    • Bland appearance

    • Off-centre notch on front lip

    SPECS

    PRICE: $1,798

    PROCESSOR: Intel Core i5-1035G4 (1.1GHz)

    GRAPHICS: Intel Iris Plus Graphics

    RAM: 16GB DDR4

    SCREEN SIZE: 13.5 inches, 2,256 x 1,504 pixels

    CONNECTIVITY: 2 x Thunderbolt 3, 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port, HDMI, microSD card slot, headphone jack

    BATTERY: 56 watt-hour

    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4.5/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

Despite having this storage slot, the Spin 5 still manages to cram in a good selection of other ports, including two Thunderbolt 3 ports, two Type-A USB ports and an HDMI port.

There is also a microSD card slot, as well as a traditional barrel-type power connector, though the convertible can also be charged through its Thunderbolt 3 ports.

I like that the Spin 5's speakers are located near the hinges, so they face the user when the convertible is in its stand mode (with the screen front and centre, while the keyboard is face down on the desk).

But, despite the ideal placement, these speakers are just decent at best - they are not as loud as I had expected.

My review set comes with a mid-range Intel Core i5 processor that has ample memory (16GB) and storage (1TB solid-state drive).

It scored 4,084 in the PCMark 10 benchmark, slightly lower than the score of the more expensive Intel Core i7-powered Microsoft Surface Pro 7 (4,233).

In The Straits Times' video-loop battery test, the Spin 5 clocked 6 hours and 20 minutes - decent but far from outstanding.

Despite its middling looks, the Spin 5 has all the tools to succeed in the convertible arena, such as its handy form, good selection of ports and integrated stylus.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2020, with the headline 'Sturdy hybrid for working on the go'. Print Edition | Subscribe