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TAIWANESE COMPUTER FIRM Acer launched a convertible notebook at a press event in New York today, the Aspire R7.
Set to appear in the Star Trek Into Darkness movie when it launches later this month, the Acer Aspire R7 has a full HD touchscreen display that rotates over a dual hinge dubbed a "Ezel Hinge" so it can be manoeuvred into any viewing position as it floats over the keyboard.
Design and build
On first impressions, the Acer Aspire R7's chassis does feel rather plasticy. Although it has a silver finish, it looks a bit cheap and we would have preferred to have seen a satin or aluminium finish considering its £900 price tag to give it that higher-end appearance.
Nevertheless it does feel rather sturdy. Closing it down and picking it up, the R7 feels strong and robust and thus would probably survive a good knock or two.
Saying that, it is thick and bulky and as a result quite heavy, so not ideal for those who'd want to transport the device from office and home often.
The Aspire R7 has a brilliantly vibrant display with very responsive touch and minimal glare. However, though tilting the screen to change the viewing angle is operated very easily and stays in the position you want it to, the Ezel Hinge is stiff to move vertically if you want to raise or lower the display, and because the screen is heavier than the chassis, you can end up pulling the entire laptop up off the surface it sits on.
Acer said that the model on display at the event today is just a prototype version, however, so this is something the firm might have sorted out when it ships later this month.
We liked how the screen could also flip over to allow an additional viewer sitting behind the laptop to see the screen. The display also rotates automatically to allow this.
Overall we were rather impressed by the resolution of the display and it offered good viewing angles. We will look forward to testing this fully when we receive a unit for a full review to see how movie playback fares on the Aspire R7.
The track pad has been moved behind the keyboard to allow for wider viewing angles. Acer said this is because it is promoting its "duality" way of usingdevices - touching and typing as opposed to using the trackpad - as it wants to push customers this way. We're not sure if people will take to this though, as it did feel very unnatural to use during our tests.
Nonetheless, the keyboard does feel of high quality and was easy enough to type on. Bashing out a few sentences seemed pleasant enough so we assume it will be a good device to type on.
Unfortunately, we didn't have long enough to test the Acer Aspire R7's performance capabilities during our brief hands-on time with it. But during the time we did use it, it seemed very responsive to commands, likely due to the Intel Core i5 CPU it had installed. Acer said this model will also be available with an Intel i7 Core processor, so a more powerful version is available for those looking to install more demanding applications or multi-task.
Accompanying the Intel processor on the demo device we tested was 6GB of RAM, which is plenty for home or office needs. Acer said this is upgradable to a rather hefty 12GB of memory as well as a 1TB hard drive. This can be upgraded to a 256GB SSD card if you fancy swifter access to stored data.
Again, we were unable to test out how well these internal specifications affected the Aspire R7's processing power, but we'll be sure to update you when we conduct a full review.
We did manage to run a Windows Experience Index test, in which the overall score was 4.8.
The Aspire R7 also offers a good range of connectivity options including an HDMI-out port, an SD card reader and three USB 3.0 ports, as well as WiFi, Bluetooth and a converter port supporting VGA, RJ45 and USB.
The Aspire R7 offers a fresh and innovative design in the Windows 8 laptop market and in our short experience with it, we found it fun to use with fast and responsive performance, albeit a few flaws such as the stiffness of the Ezel Hinge.
Although the Acer Aspire R7 is a blatant attempt by Acer to push its customers to enjoy Windows 8 more by making it easier to use touch functions on the operating system, we're not sure how well they will perceive a product that is so different to what is already available on the market.
Acer said the Aspire R7 will be available worldwide come 14 May, except in the UK where it will launch in mid-June, priced at £899. µ
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