Acer Spin 3 (2018) review: Acer’s 2-in-1 has a great screen but not much else

The Good A solid set of components, including a 1TB hard drive. The decent complement of ports and connections. The crisp 14-inch display is a pleasure to use in laptop and tablet mode.

The Bad Flimsy design. Subpar performance and battery life. Keyboard and touchpad aren’t great.

The Bottom Line In the ultracompetitive market of midrange convertibles, the Acer Spin 3 fails to stand out.

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6.5 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 7
  • Performance 6
  • Battery 6

In 2018, a thousand bucks will get you an excellent laptop. Cut that budget in half and you'll need to make some compromises. And yet there are plenty of solid options in the $500 range -- including several from Acer -- that deliver a better overall value than the unexceptional Spin 3. Similar models are available in the UK and Australia for £750 or AU$1,000, although exact specs vary. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Like every model in Acer's series of Spin laptops, our $500 test unit has a 360-degree hinge that lets you tuck the keyboard behind the display, making the transformation from laptop to tablet. The Spin family comes in a wide (and confusing) array of size options and configurations that includes Chromebooks, Windows machines and even entry-level gaming models. Earlier this year, we reviewed the higher-end, all-metal 13.3-inch Acer Spin 5, which starts at $700 and found it to be a good value.

The less expensive Acer Spin 3 also looks good -- but feels cheap. From a distance, it appears to be made of the same textured, brushed aluminum as the Spin 5, but a closer inspection reveals a plastic design. It's just under 1 inch (21 mm) thick and weighs 3.75 pounds (1.7 kg) -- about average for a 14-inch laptop in this price range. The keyboard isn't great -- I found myself making more typos than usual -- and the touchpad felt particularly flimsy, responding consistently only when I clicked the lower-right corner.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Acer Spin 3's 14-inch HD display is a highlight. It's not the brightest screen, but the 1,900x1,080-pixel resolution is crisp and the 16:9 aspect ratio is well-suited to watching videos and reading in portrait mode. And after working primarily on Macs for so many years, I am always impressed by the versatility of convertibles -- it's a joy to poke at the touchscreen in laptop and tablet mode. 

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