Hybrid computers are everywhere, but we’re so used to seeing the 360 degree hinge, it’s nice to see someone doing it differently. This time, it’s Acer, taking its Ezel concept from the R7 and improving it with a frame for the screen. Does it work, and is this the future of portable computing?
For Acer’s second take on the Ezel computer, the company has employed a slightly different design to make the system a laptop and tablet hybrid.
We’ll get into this shortly, but Acer is relying on a hinge for the display itself positioned in the centre, making it possible to change the angle of the display and where it aims: front, back, top, and any other way.
The screen in this section is a Full HD 1920×1080 In-Plane Switching (IPS) 13.3 inch display, protected by Corning’s scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass 3 coating both the front and the back.
This display supports touch, too, and there’s even a wireless pen included in the box in case drawing or writing on the tablet grabs you more than the keyboard or finger-touch input ever will.
Next up is the backlit keyboard, the wide trackpad mouse, and then the guts of the computer, and here you’ll find an Intel Core i7 processor from the “Haswell” generation, also known as generation four clocked at 2GHz. Memory is set to 8GB RAM, with storage relying on a 256GB solid-state drive, and Windows 8.1 pre-installed out of the box.
Connections for this computer are relatively fleshed out for a small computer, with one USB 2.0 port, two USB 3.0 ports, a single HDMI port, an SD card slot, and a 3.5mm headset jack for both headphone and microphone. Wireless is also catered for with Bluetooth and 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi part of the package.
A small power pack is included with the laptop, built to charge the machine through a small circular charge port, with the battery provided a maximum run time of eight hours, according to Acer.
Making a computer more modern can’t be easy, but we’ve seen some interesting ideas turn up in the past few years as Microsoft tries to encourage PC makers to think out of the box and come up with some neat ways to innovate in the world of Windows.
Most of the innovative ideas we’ve seen tend to focus on the screen hinge, with much of the design making it possible to get the screen to butt up against the back of the keyboard, effectively turning the laptop into a tablet, albeit a bit one, but Acer’s approach is a little different.
Interestingly, this “R” product follows a totally implementation to the previous model, though both support Acer’s “Ezel” design, with the screen sitting above the keyboard, a laptop layout no other machine takes advantage of.
Instead of making a massive hinge that moves the display in different ways — which is what happened on the R7 — the R13 takes advantage of a screen frame sitting on a regular laptop hinge with a display that can rotate the full 180 degrees inside that frame.
In a way, we’re reminded of what Dell tried to do with its XPS 12, incorporating a screen that can flip around in position inside the frame.
Acer’s take on this is a little tighter than Dell’s option, which worked only as a touchscreen laptop or a tablet, and as such you’ll find the display hinge can remain in position at different parts of the screen flip, meaning you can change the screen position to work in different ways.
For instance, there’s the standard 90 degree angle for the laptop, showing information and letting you operate the computer with the typical perpendicular screen.
But because the display can be pushed at angles inside its frame, you’ll find you can position the display closer to you, with the screen sitting above your fingers and closer to your eyes, which some will no doubt appreciate.