What began as an “oh crap” moment has blossomed into a pleasant surprise. Let me explain. In July, I loaded the new Chrome OS Flex onto my 2009 MacBook Pro, which I’d converted to a Chromebook last year. The machine started randomly lapsing – stuttering on videos and freezing at bizarre, unpredictable times. Clearly Chrome OS Flex wasn’t quite ready for prime time, as Google would have you believe.
Loving Chromebooks, I quickly purchased a HP model that ultimately behaved sporadically. For example, it would open a pdf once out of every four or five times. And it decided to drop the internet roughly 30 seconds after I got on a Zoom call with one of my clients. I panicked, as I have to operate my business without being able to take a moment off. So I got in touch with an Acer representative who was kind enough to loan me the brand’s Chromebook Spin 713 ($700), which is billed as the industry’s first Intel Evo-based Chromebook and the first with Thunderbolt 4. And they may have to pry it away from me, when my review period is over.
In a nutshell, the 13.5-inch touch screen gets nice and bright, colors are vibrant, the speakers sound fantastic, the 11th Gen Intel Core i5 processor delivers cutting-edge speed, it weighs three pounds, and its screen folds back all the way to become a tablet. There have been no hiccups. At all. If I want to connect it via Bluetooth to a speaker, the handshake is made instantly. When I load a streaming baseball game, it’s instantaneous. The keyboard lights up underneath. It’s quiet. Plug in a USB stick, USB-C SSD or microSD card, and file transfers are the fastest I’ve ever seen on a laptop. Webpage loading is immediate – even on historically slower websites like the Wall Street Journal’s and NFL’s. It has the Google Play Store, so I can download many of my favorite apps. The machine doesn’t heat up at all. Unlike past machines, it finds my printer without fail every time. Honestly, I cannot say one bad word about it.
To make matters better, Google just updated the Chrome OS for Chromebooks about a week or two ago. And it’s made the Chromebook experience even better. There’s built-in video and pdf editing now, whereas before I had to enlist third-party apps to do the job. The app deck is now on the bottom left, and I can sort it by logo colors or alphabetically. It’s amazing how something so small can make such a big difference in productivity. And I love that I can set a screensaver slideshow with my Google photos. I love that it constantly shows two slides at once that are related – once I saw an older photo of my wife side-by-side with a newer photo of her. Very cool. I can also quickly tether the Chromebook to my phone with one click, unlock it through my phone, or control my phone through the Chromebook.
The Acer has made my online office faster, more productive and more efficient than ever. I know there are several highly rated Chromebooks emerging from other brands right now. But this one is way beyond capable for my needs. It’s a keeper.