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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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
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.
|Acer Chromebook R 13||Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Chromebook||Asus Chromebook Flip C302C||HP Chromebook 13||Samsung Chromebook Pro|
|Price as reviewed||$400||$845||$500||$819||$549|
|PC CPU||Media Tek M8173C||Intel Core i5-6300U||Intel m3-6Y60||Intel Core m5-6y57||Intel Core m3-6y30|
|Operating system||Chrome OS||Chrome OS||Chrome OS||Chrome OS||Chrome OS|
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.
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.
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.
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.