Acer Chromebook 13 Spin is a beast.

Discussion in 'Other Android Tablet Manufacturers' started by artistebot, May 25, 2018.

  1. Cuberdon75

    Cuberdon75 Scribbler - Standard Member

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    I nearly bought it a couple of times. Very interested in your feedback on its art capabilities, which nobody seems to have bothered to detail (e.g. Linux Krita).
     
  2. lovelaptops

    lovelaptops My friends call me Jeff Senior Member

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    I think @artistebot has a couple good links to reviews that will speak to your question in his post. That said, I have considered replacing my Pixelbook with the Spin 13 several times, and what always stops me is the weight: 3.5lbs vs. 2.4lbs. The ergonomics of the PB are so far superior to any laptop - period - I've ever used that I can deal with the inferior pen (Wacom AES vs. EMR), the lack of an SD card slot and USB-A port to retain the Ultra-luxe, thin and light Pixelbook. But I don't need performance from a Chromebook, so I'm likely to be more than satisfied with the PB's for a good long time. Most performance benchmarks are 30-80% better on the 8th gen Core i5U of the Acer than the 7th gen Core-i5y of the PB. I have looked at this so carefully (the comparison of the two CBs) that I think I can pretty fairly summarize that the main difference between the two are:

    1) Keyboard of PB is superior
    2) Screen of the Acer is 1"larger
    3) Acer has USB-A and micro SD port that PB lacks
    4) PB has better audio (but it's fair vs. poor)
    5) Performance superiority of the Acer as noted above
    6) Acer is 3.5 lbs vs. PB 2.4 lbs
    7) Current Amazon price for Acer ($599) is so far superior (by $400) to all but PB refurbs (which cost the same)
    8)

    Also, if you're only interested in a larger screen, higher performance CB (ie, not interested in a PB), the Acer is mostly equal or better than the Lenovo and HP machines that compete directly, and at it's current price on Amazon, it's a total no-brainer. One last point: I think both the Lenovo and HP are available with a 4K display, if that's a big deal for you, though I can't imagine paying the price difference
     
  3. Cuberdon75

    Cuberdon75 Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Thanks. I'm aware of the specs on the 13. I have no interest in the PB as I'm an EMR fundamentalist.

    What I'm really curious about is Linux/Crostini performance, esp. as regards the stylus.
     
  4. artistebot

    artistebot Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Just got the Spin 13 delivered, have not used it much yet, but the build quality is excellent. Pen is very nice.
     
  5. lovelaptops

    lovelaptops My friends call me Jeff Senior Member

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    I get it. Sorry I couldn't offer you any new insights. FWIW, I find it hard to believe that the hardware wouldn't guarantee the best Linux/Crostini performance that Chromebooks are capable of delivering but I share your admiration/requirement of EMR styli (I use Samsung devices with EMR digitizers or new iPads with EMR-like response, though way less comfort and ergonomic benefits for stylus apps other than note taking, for which I find AES, even the better MPP pens/devices sufficient. But if you're an artist (or just very, very discerning note-taker), I couldn't fault you for EMR requirement. It is very frustrating that reviews almost never detain stylus responsiveness, particularly for CBs, unless they are done by Lisa Gade of Mobiletechreview.com (who rarely bothers looking at Chromebooks) or in this forum.

    @artistebot : we are beholden to you - let's hear some feedback, please!!

    EDIT: Of all people, Thurott has done a review of this! Below are his comments about the stylus - not encouraging if you are looking to do art, due to lack of features like tilt, etc. Also there aren't many great Android apps for artists, but I assume you know that.

    Below is an excerpt re: the stylus:

    Finally, the Spin 13 ships with a Wacom EMR-powered Acer Active Pen, which is small enough to fit in a storage slot in the front of the device.

    [​IMG]

    That’s good, of course—it will be harder to lose—but the small size also makes the Pen less ergonomic and harder to use, especially for those with large hands. Solutions like Surface Pen more closely mimic real writing implements.

    [​IMG]

    That said, performance is very good, and Chrome OS is now smart enough to display Pen UIs when available. In apps like Google Keep Notes that natively support this kind of input, I experienced just a tiny bit of lag, but nothing like the unusable pen experiences in both the Qualcomm- and Intel-based versions of the HP Envy x2. The feeling of the Pen nib on the glass of the display is excellent. And there is no stutter-stepping where a continuous line is broken up as you go. (Another issue with the Envy x2.)

    [​IMG]

    What you don’t get, sadly, are any advanced smartpen features like tilt support or pressure sensitivity. There aren’t any buttons either, or an eraser. Put this all together, and I feel that the Spin 13 is adequate for note-taking but less so for drawing.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2019
  6. Cuberdon75

    Cuberdon75 Scribbler - Standard Member

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    I saw that at the time. The part about no pressure sensitivity is obvious nonsense: it's the Google Keep app that doesn't have it. I bet that's all he tried. 99% of reviewers are useless when it comes to these issues. It's really rather shocking. Which is another way of saying that yes, we do depend on @artistebot to give us his informed opinion!
     
  7. lovelaptops

    lovelaptops My friends call me Jeff Senior Member

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    Yes, and sadly this is a reminder of what a small niche in the market we represent - the serious penabled user. I think it explains why Microsoft, even while making the pen a fundamental selling point for Windows 10, to this day hasn't bothered either to invest in improving MPP/Ntrig or, more wisely, just license Wacom tech. The point: it's mostly a gimmick and so few people use active styli, particularly for serious digital art, that a cheap, distinctly 3rd place offering, is all they need to make the sale they're trying to make.

    If you can swing it, why not buy a Spin 13 where you have 30 days to return (though that Prime Day sale was killer, that model often goes on sale for $699, still a steal. If you can do without Windows - and a decent SSD - I have the strong sense that this model is pretty much as good as any ultra book in the market for $100s less than competition. The only real competition that has EMR is the Samsung GB12, a really fine machine but a zero if you do much typing.

    I do really enjoy using Chrome OS for browser work because it's so light, fast and - I presume - secure (except from Google!) I got my Pixelbook for $600 new 1.5 yrs ago and it's really my substitute for the iPad because I so prefer the clamshell form factor. I don't use Linux at all - is it a superior experience with a Chromebook compared to a Windows-built laptop, or is it primarily the same fast, light, simple access as the browser?
     
  8. Marty

    Marty Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    Ok, I'm just come out and say I challenge this narrative that stylus users represent an economically insignificant portion of the market.

    If this were true, it would not make business sense for Apple to introduce Pencil support to so much of their existing lineup:

    (Apple)
    "If you have an Apple Pencil (1st generation), you can use it with these iPad models:
    • iPad Air (3rd generation)
    • iPad mini (5th generation)
    • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st or 2nd generation)
    • iPad Pro 10.5-inch
    • iPad Pro 9.7-inch
    • iPad (6th generation)"
    Since the inception of the iPad in 2010 came many of those (generally horrible) 3rd-party capacitive stylii. My guess is that Apple observed—contrary to expectation—sales and interest in these peripherals was growing⁠, despite poor performance and spotty app support.

    Thus like any diligent company, they recognized a genuine market demand and adapted their product line and OS integration accordingly. Thus we getting iPad OS, pen-enabled creative apps (now rivaling their desktop counterparts), and recently Sidecar.

    So no, I don't buy that low market demand is preventing MS from developing their pen hardware and ecosystem. They are simply providing a sub-par pen experience relative to competition, and thus not seeing growth.

    MS hasn't lost the pen tablet market yet, but this backwards reasoning will certainly seal their fate.
     
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  9. artistebot

    artistebot Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Hey folks, I have been swamped with work lately, but I did do a few initial installs and tests.


    The Good
    For android art apps such as Infinite Painter, and Sketchbook Pro, and Art Rage the pen works as you might expect (pen pressure is working great)

    Pen tilt DOES work just fine in ArtRage and Infinite Painter. Probably works great in Clover Paint too.

    The Apps I have tested work in full-screen and windowed mode. The Window size is adjustable on the art apps I tried. Never the less not all apps can be resized such as ArtPose (Not a very well made app with lots of bugs..)

    As anyone should expect Android and Chrome App performance is very good. For example, ArtRage seems to have no lag with even the biggest brushes.

    Pens w a back "eraser button" seem to work as expected in ArtRage and an eraser. Strangely in Infinite Painter the back button only works a brush. The IP developer is very responsive so I suspect that can be fixed.

    All the usual current crop of Wacom "Pen Enabled" EMR pens seem to work just fine, I have tested 4 types including my favorite, the Norris.

    The included pen is a nice size, if only slightly small.

    Once installed Linux apps seem to appear as any other app.

    The Bad

    Pen Side Buttons on pens don't seem to work at all in the apps I tried. Bit of a bummer, but not surprising.

    By default, when the Chromebook is put into "tablet" mode, all apps are forced to Full Screen. This can be disabled but then the OS Keyboard won't work. The clumsy work around to have windowed app in tablet mode is to plug in a mouse into the USB port.

    Linux installs is an awkward command line affair, clearly still in development. FYI they only just added external USB support within a week or so.

    The case on top behind the keyboard at the base of the screen gets very hot. In tablet mode this could be an issue.

    The Ugly

    Linux Gimp performance seems great with no lag, but the pen pressure or side button are not working. Keyboard shortcuts and touch seem to work fine.

    FYI: I don't know how to use Gimp so I am simply poking at it for now. This might be a viable Photoshop replacement...?


    TBD

    Krita

    Test if windowed apps will run in background (reference slideshows...)

    Can be "always on top"/pinned if needed.

    Clover Paint.

    other apps...requests?
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2019
  10. Cuberdon75

    Cuberdon75 Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Fantastic, thank you! Believe it or not, 18 months after release, this is by far the most detailed review wrt stylus/art apps I've seen. Though as I would use this mainly as a Krita machine I'm still on tenterhooks. The fact that Gimp doesn't recognize pressure isn't a great sign. Although in Linux these things can often be fixed with some community help. Question, how often does the fan come on while using art apps? What's the noise level and heat output? How are you finding the 8 gigs of RAM?
     
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