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.
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.
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.