Acer's brand new 13.3-inch "convertible" (i.e., it folds backward) Chromebook R13, unveiled at IFA 2016, is clearly a step beyond the quality on offer from the Chromebook 14 that was released back in March, but of course it also has a higher starting price at $399.
For the money you're getting something really nice — a solid metal build surrounds what feels like a standard Acer trackpad and keyboard, with a sturdier hinge and glossy touchscreen above it. The only big thing to note here is the weight, at nearly 3.3 pounds.
That's all table stakes, really, but the Chromebook R13 is stepping things up elsewhere to try and make it worth the price. Right off the top it charges over USB-C, which is fantastic to see, and Acer has also made this a USB 3.1 port that can handle fast data transfers and video output over the same port. Joining it are a full-sized USB-A 3.0 port, as well as HDMI and a microSD card slot. Here's how the specs break down:
|Operating System||Chrome OS|
|Processor||MediaTek M8173C Core Pilot quad-core|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth
USB-C 3.1, USB-A 3.0
|Battery||Up to 12 hours usage|
|Camera||HD FOV webcam
|Dimensions||326 x 228 x 15.5 mm|
|Weight||1.49 kg / 3.28 lb|
Seeing a MediaTek M8173C processor inside is a bit interesting, but I'm not going to write it off just because of that — when paired up with 4GB of RAM and driving just a 1080p display I'm confident the performance can be solid. In my quick usage I didn't have enough time to see how well it would stand up to heavy load of multiple apps and tabs, but it didn't slow down with my quick browsing around, which is a good sign.
The MediaTek chip should be able to provide ample battery life as well, which is continually what consumers are asking for. Acer is claiming you can get 12 hours of typical usage, which even if matches up to prior claims on Acer Chromebooks and lands at more like 10 hours will be great for most people.
It's clear to me that this is the best Chromebook Acer has ever made, and inches us ever closer to the true mid-range offerings that many Chromebook fans have been asking for. With a better-than-usual build quality, great screen, good specs and important features like USB-C and long battery life Acer should have no problem asking $399 for the new Chromebook R13, and I'm excited to spend more time with one. It'll be available starting in October.
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