Acer, pre IFA 2016, have produced a great range of affordable machines. Included in the range is the Switch series as well as the Aspire series. Part of that range is the R11 machine, which comes as both a Chromebook as well as a machine that runs Windows. While we looked at the Chromebook in the past, here is a look at the Windows machine.
- Windows 10 Home
- Intel Celeron N3050 1.60GHz, Dual Core
- 4GB RAM
- HDD: 500GB, SATA
- 11.6″ Screen, TFT, 1366 x 768, touch screen
- Ethernet Port for LAN and WiFi
- Ports: SD card slot, 2 x USB, HDMI, Ethernet
- 4-Cell 3270 mAh battery promises up to 8 hours of run time
- 20.9mm x 298mm x 211mm, 1.58kg
In the box
- Aspire R11 Notebook
- Lithium Polymer Battery
- AC Adapter
Look and feel
The device is cheap, and it makes no pretence to be anything else. Covered in textured plastic on the top, and bottom, it offers a sturdy build that can take a knock or two in your backpack or as you travel around with it.
The notebook allows you to turn the screen all the way back to turn this into a tablet. The hinge itself is well designed and thought out. It can be set to any angle and the screen just stays there. In fact, if you lift the notebook by the screen, and give it a wiggle, it still stays there. As solid as you need it, which is great.
The right side features the power input, the volume keys and a couple of LEDs that show the power status and the charging status. Interestingly, unlike most Windows tablets, there is no Windows key on the notebook.
A very annoying feature is that if you accidentally press the power button as you move this, it sends the notebook to sleep, and there isn’t much you can do about it. Just have to wait till it completes the sleep process, and then you have to wake it up again.
The left side features the LAN port (something you don’t often see on such devices any more), a HDMI and a couple of USB ports as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Open the lid and you get to see the keyboard, the touchpad, and the screen with the webcam on top. The screen has a layer of Gorilla Glass on top, meaning it is pretty robust.
With the solid build and the light weight, this can easily be classed as a portable device. It isn’t quite as thin as most tablets, but it can easily work in that mode if you like. Generally though, I prefer it with the keyboard and touch pad exposed, unless I am watching a film.
The great battery life pairs well with the whole portability thing.
Normally I’d start with the performance of a device, but before I do that, I would need to look at everything that Acer has packed with this. Acer devices come with a whole suite of software, that includes everything from Acer Cloud and McAfee to a lot of small apps such as Candy Crush Saga. As a result, the background processes are as loaded as you would find on any fully specced up computer. Needless to say, in this instance, the software is what is holding this back.
Our review version arrived with Windows 10 Home, without the Anniversary update. You can find Windows 8 versions of this notebook on the internet as well.
Now that I have set that premise, and once you have seen the processor running this, you will be able to understand if you think this machine struggles a bit when you ask it to do bit too much. A bit too much in this case means opening up more than 5 or 10 browser windows, and that is it. Add a bit of video playing to the mix, and you can really notice the struggle. Let things settle down a bit, and it all starts to play again.
It isn’t quite all that unexpected though. What Acer have done here is give you an extremely portable device with a great battery life. All this is offered at an extremely affordable price. Something had to give. Sadly in this case it is the processor and the RAM.
I am not saying that this is a bad machine. It is sold as a notebook, not a laptop, and should be expected to perform as such. Manage your expectations, and it is all okay.
So, what is this machine good for? It is great as a second machine to take with you on trips and such like where you can do a bit of work, work through a browser, and watch films and stuff, all without having to worry about battery life.
Quite frankly, despite the medium or par performance, I have to say that I am reasonably impressed with the battery life. A lot of devices promise up to 8 hours of battery life. Not many deliver past 6 on my average use. This one is decently set up for over 7.
How does it compare to the R11 Chromebook?
You may have noticed that the Acer Aspire R11 shares some of its name with the Acer R11 Chromebook. Both the devices share a similar shell and hardware, but the OS running is pretty different. This means that the Chromebook packs in a performance that feels a lot faster (while browsing) then the Windows equivalent.
More on the Acer Aspire R11 can be found on the Acer website. It retails for around £279, and can be bought from Currys and PC World. Other varieties can be found via Amazon as well, and the costs vary depending on the model or the version of Windows it runs.
It comes in blue and white.
The particular model we reviewed was the R11 R3-131T, which can be found at this link.
A decent machine at a great price, with a nice dash of portability thrown in.