Acer Spin 5 review: What it’s like to have Amazon Alexa in a laptop

Let’s be clear up front: The Acer Spin 5 is not a bad laptop. You could justifiably buy it simply because it’s a solidly built convertible with respectable specs for the money, plus a comfortable keyboard and trackpad (not a guarantee in this price range). You might also be intrigued by its Amazon Alexa integration.

If you already have Echo products in your home, the Spin 5 would fit right in, but that’s actually a minor selling point. This convertible laptop has a couple of nettlesome downsides, including a noisy fan and thick display bezels, that you’ll want to consider before buying. 

Price and specifications

The Spin 5 configuration we tested (SP513-52N-85LZ) lists for $900 on Amazon and includes an 8th-generation Intel Core i7-8550U processor with UHD 620 graphics, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, and a 256GB SSD. Opting for a Core i5-8250U quad-core processor instead brings the price down to $700 on Amazon (for the SP513-52N-58WW). Both versions include a 13.3-inch IPS touchscreen at 1080p resolution.

Acer also sells a version of the Spin 5 with a 15.6-inch display, which allows you to throw in an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 graphics card. A version with 8GB of memory and a 1TB hard drive (the SP515-51GN-83YY) is currently $900 on Amazon.

Design and Display

The Acer Spin 5’s nondescript nature starts with its appearance. While the laptop has a polished metallic finish on the cover, under the shell it’s a more drab, matte finish (albeit one that fends off palm and fingerprint smudges). The laptop is on the heavy side at 3.31 pounds, but that does help give it a sturdy feel, and it’s reasonably slim at 0.63 inches throughout.

spin5closed Jared Newman / IDG

Acer’s Spin 5 gets the brushed-metal treatment, but only on the outside.

As a convertible laptop, the Spin 5’s display can rotate 360 degrees, effectively turning it into a large tablet with the keyboard hanging from its underside. You can also tilt the screen partway toward you in tablet mode, or stand it up in “tent mode” with both edges facing down. The downside to this flexibility is that the screen wobbles when you tap on it.

While other thin-and-light laptops have started fitting larger screens in smaller bodies, the Spin 5 hasn’t caught on yet. Its top bezel measures about 0.88 inches vertically, and the size bezels each measure a little over a half-inch horizontally. Like other convertibles the Spin 5 has a large chin beneath the screen, running about 1.5 inches to the bottom of the case. All of this adds up to a screen that feels claustrophobic given the size of the laptop itself.

spin5tent Jared Newman / IDG

The Spin 5 in “tent mode,” thick bezels and all.

That said, the actual screen is an IPS panel that provides excellent viewing angles from side to side. It gets a little dim only when viewed from up high.

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