With so many touchscreen tablet-equipped laptops out there, the computing landscape is truly changing. Acer has noticed, and with a new notebook, is really rethinking things, coming up with a machine that has more in common with an all-in-one desktop than your traditional portable computer.
Crafted from a aluminium block and designed to offer a 15.6 inch tablet experience, the Acer Aspire R7 is one of the more intriguing laptop-tablet experiences scheduled to come out this year.
While the idea of a 15 inch tablet will pique attention, it’s really the form-factor that Acer has chosen to use that will keep you there.
In essence, the form-factor isn’t one type, but rather every type. There’s a traditional clamshell Ultrabook, the flat tablet, and even the angled touchscreen hybrid like Sony’s VAIO Duo 11 and LG’s Tab-book has.
And if you want to watch some movies, you can even choose to flip the screen completely over and get comfy with a 15.6 inch Full HD screen.
All of this is possible from a single laptop by way of what Acer calls the “Ezel hinge,” a new type laptop hinge that allows the screen to change angles and form-factors literally by being pushed into position.
Want a tablet? Collapse the screen.
Want a laptop? Push the screen against the hinge and into a right angle.
Want to draw on the screen with the included pen stylus? Lift the screen and work either as a tablet or with the screen sitting above the keyboard.
The idea is intriguing, and from the early feel, the build looks like it will have no problem holding these different forms.
Another part that will have no problems keeping up is what’s inside the R7, and while we’ll miss out on Intel fourth-generation chips until later this year, the specs are still high enough to get the attention of most people.
That includes up to 12GB RAM, Intel Core i5, NVidia Geforce 750M graphics with 2GB RAM, and a hybrid hard drive system that comprises of a 24GB SSD for running Windows 8 and a 500GB hard drive for everything else, with the possibility of upgrading to a full terabyte.
All the connections you’re used to are here, with WiFi, Bluetooth, SD card slot, twop USB 3.0, one USB 2.0, and HDMI, and there’s even a trackpad too, but it’s not in the spot you’re expecting.
Because there’s already a 15.6 inch Full HD screen, Acer doesn’t think the trackpad needs to sit in the same spot, and has instead switched the keyboard and trackpad around, positioning the trackpad at the top and the keyboard at the bottom.
At first, this will look a little odd, and completely foreign, but when you get your head around it, we think it might make some sense.
For instance, when you’re typing, there won’t be any sensitivity issues for accidentally touching the mouse. It probably helps that much of the usability will come from the touchscreen, and so your reasons for using the trackpad are lessened, and the included stylus will surely help here.
One category we think will benefit from this layout is gamers, who will be able to keep their left hand on the WASD control keys (forward, left, back, right), while the right hand stays on the trackpad. While touch pads aren’t always the best gaming experience, in a pinch, this layout might actually prove better.
In the hands, the Aspire R7 feels solid enough, and we’re keen to give this design a proper flogging. Even in a first iteration, it looks as if Acer has done some serious work crafting this thing. We already know that the next generation will not only sport the faster processors from Haswell, but also a higher resolution screen, with a similar resolution and quality to Apple’s MacBook Pro Retina range.
If tablets and hybrids haven’t impressed you yet, then this one might be worth checking out, as it really looks to be the best of both worlds.
Acer’s Aspire R7 is heading to stores across the country now, with its recommended retail price starting from $2099.