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Acer Chromebook R13 review: A Chromebook 2-in-1 with killer battery life

The Acer Chromebook R13 is a bit more expensive than other Chromebooks, but that's because it's a 2-in-1 hybrid with a long-lasting battery.

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Xiomara Blanco
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Xiomara Blanco

Associate Editor / Reviews - Tablets and monitors

Xiomara Blanco is an associate editor for CNET Reviews. She's a Bay Area native with a knack for tech that makes life easier and more enjoyable. So, don't expect her to review printers anytime soon.

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The Acer Chromebook R13 is a little expensive for a Chromebook, starting at $400 (converts to about £320, AU$525), but it's perfectly priced for all the features it offers.

The Good

The Acer Chromebook R13 has a long-lasting battery and a variety of ports. Its 360-degree hinge allows it to be used as a tablet.

The Bad

It's heavy. The Chrome OS is limited in what it can do. Its keyboard isn't backlit.

The Bottom Line

The Acer Chromebook R13 is a capable Chromebook that won't break the bank, but if your needs are simple there are many other, more affordable laptops worth scoping out.

It's a convertible laptop with a touchscreen and a 360-degree hinge that allows it to be used as a tablet. It also has commendably long-lasting battery life, a stylish aluminum lid and plenty of ports for connecting peripherals.

Depending on your needs, you might be able to find a more affordable alternative. However, for a 2-in-1 Chromebook with a killer battery life, the Acer Chromebook is a diamond in the rough. And if you want to spend more, Samsung's Chromebook Pro has a higher-res hybrid touch screen and an included stylus, and runs Google Play Android apps.

An affordable 2-in-1 Chromebook that'll last you all day

See all photos

About that battery life

There's one big reason to buy the Acer Chromebook R13: battery life.

The 13-inch Chromebook averaged 13 hours in our battery testing, and that's well beyond what we're used to seeing from Chromebooks. A Chromebook with "good" battery life is around 8 to 10 hours, so the Acer's 13-hour average is pretty great -- if you need something that lasts that long.

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Use it as a tablet. Or not, because it's heavy.

Josh Miller/CNET

For most people 8 to 10 hours is a full day's charge. If you need something with a little more juice than that, the Acer Chromebook R13 is the only Chromebook we've tested that outlasts the rest by a considerable amount.

Versatile design

The Acer Chromebook 13 has a smooth and stylish aluminum lid that gives it a touch of class. It's not as skinny and lightweight as the HP Chromebook 13, but by no means does it look like a cheap laptop.

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Can your laptop do that?

Josh Miller/CNET

On the left of the laptop you'll find plenty of ports for your connection needs, and the headphone jack, power button and volume rocker are located on the right side.

  • Full-size USB 3.0 port
  • USB Type-C (no Thunderbolt 3 support)
  • HDMI port
  • MicroSD card slot

Its keyboard feels spacious and the touchpad is responsive, but the keys aren't backlit. I prefer the option of backlit keys, especially since I'm a writer who sometimes has to type in dim environments, but that's understandably less of a deal breaker for others.

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The aluminum lid and 360-degree hinge give the Acer a touch of high-end class.

Josh Miller/CNET

The speakers, which are located on the left and right edges toward the front of the computer, are pretty weak. Their maximum volume can meekly fill a quiet room, so I suggest packing a pair of headphones.

Solid screen

The Acer Chromebook R13's screen is sharp with impressively wide viewing angles; you can clearly see what's on the screen no matter at what angle it's titled.

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A solid screen for watching video.

Josh Miller/CNET
  • 13.3-inch IPS
  • Multitouch screen
  • 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution

The 360-degree hinge lets you flip over the screen so you can use it as a tablet, albeit a very chunky and heavy one. I didn't use it as a tablet much because it was too heavy to comfortably hold. I did, however, often use it folded like a tent when watching video. The hinge is sturdy enough to keep the tablet in a stationary position with no wobble.

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Plenty of ports for your connection needs.

Josh Miller/CNET

The 'bad' news

The one area where the Acer Chromebook 13 falls flat is in performance. By no means is it a sluggish lag-monster, but in comparison with other high-end Chromebooks (more on that later) it falls behind the pack in benchmarking.

  • 2.1GHz quad-core MediaTek M8173C CPU
  • 4GB RAM
  • 32GB or 64GB eMMC flash memory
  • PowerVR GX6250 GPU
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Great battery life, good performance.

Josh Miller/CNET

Despite the lower benchmarks, I had no complaints about the Acer's performance during my time with it. When multitasking, I was able to have about 10 tabs open with multiple videos streaming and no lag when switching between tabs. Increasing the number of tabs to up to 20 caused the computer to slow down, but that's to be expected.

Chromebooks compared

Acer Chromebook R 13 Lenovo ThinkPad 13 ChromebookAsus Chromebook Flip C302CHP Chromebook 13Samsung Chromebook Pro
Price as reviewed $400$845 $500$819 $549
Display size 13.313.312.513.312.3
PC CPU Media Tek M8173CIntel Core i5-6300U Intel m3-6Y60Intel Core m5-6y57Intel Core m3-6y30
PC Memory 4GB8GB4GB8GB4GB
Storage 32GB32GB64GB32GB32GB
Operating system Chrome OSChrome OSChrome OSChrome OSChrome OS

JetStream

Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Chromebook 179.72HP Chromebook 13 154.68Asus Chromebook Flip C302C 127.55Samsung Chromebook Pro 120.79Acer Chromebook R 13 54.827
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Google Octane

Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Chromebook 30415HP Chromebook 13 27178Samsung Chromebook Pro 22586Asus Chromebook Flip C302C 22281Acer Chromebook R 13 10350
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Streaming video playback (in minutes)

Acer Chromebook R 13 782Asus Chromebook Flip C302C 595Samsung Chromebook Pro 537Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Chromebook 495
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

If you need a laptop for occasionally surfing the web, streaming music and movies, reading emails or checking Facebook, cheaper Chromebooks can do the trick. If you're looking to do all of that, all of the time, sometimes at the same time, you're going to want something like the Acer that won't frustrate you with slow or laggy performance.

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Google Play Store coming soon.

Josh Miller/CNET

The Acer Chromebook R13 is compatible with the Google Play Android app store, but it doesn't have it yet. The update that will allow it to download, install and run millions of Android apps, like any Android phone or tablet, is expected some time in 2017. Based on the benchmarks, the Acer's processor might hold it back when gaming, but it should be fine for simple apps.

Another high-end Chromebook

High-end Chromebook? Is that an oxymoron? Nope.

There's a recent crop of Chromebooks like the Acer Chromebook 13, with sleek designs, sharp screens and fast processors. Well, sleek, sharp and fast in comparison with previous Chromebook models, that is.

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High-end Chromebooks are on the rise.

Josh Miller/CNET

While the specs might disappoint in a Windows 10 laptop, they do mighty fine with the Chrome OS. I'm not expecting Chromebooks to feature touchscreens on the keyboard like a MacBook Pro or anything, but the improvements in quality are a noteworthy and welcome evolution.

The catch is that they're more expensive than the $200 Chromebooks we're used to seeing. Most notably there are the comparable 2-in-1 Asus Chromebook Flip C3202, Samsung Chromebook Pro and the HP Chromebook 13. For around $100 more, they have slimmer and sturdier designs than the Acer and faster performance, but their batteries don't last as long.

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You won't find a Chromebook with similar features for less.

Josh Miller/CNET

Better than your basic Chromebook

The Acer Chromebook R13 is a good option for those who want something more than a basic Chromebook. Its versatile design and long-lasting battery make it a good deal for the price, but if you don't need everything it has to offer, there are plenty of alternatives.

If you like the Acer Chromebook R13 and wish it was cheaper, you can opt for the $300 (converts to about £240 or AU$395) Acer Chromebook 11, a smaller, older model with similar design, or the deceivingly lux $280 (converts to about £225 or AU$370) Acer Chromebook 14, an affordable Chromebook with a high-end design.

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7.8

Acer Chromebook R13

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 8Battery 9