BERLIN: TAIWANESE LAPTOP MAKER Acer kept very tight-lipped about its latest announcements before IFA, so we were rather surprised when the firm unveiled such an extensive line of tablets and laptops at its press conference on Wednesday.
Perhaps the most notable model of the new range is the Aspire R13, which follows in the footsteps of last year's Aspire R7, except the firm clearly has realised that placing the trackpad above the keyboard wasn't exactly a great idea.
Much like the its Star Trek inspired predecessor, the laptop comes with Acer's Ezel Aero hinge, allowing the Aspire R13 to be used in six different modes, including "tent mode" and "pad mode". Perhaps surprisingly, the device can also be used as a standard laptop, while the "stand mode" is aimed at doodlers, with the device shipping with a Microsoft Surface style Active pen.
Design and build
On first impressions, the Acer Aspire R13's chassis does feel rather plasticy. Although it has a gunmetal grey finish, it looks a bit cheap and we would have preferred to have seen a satin or aluminium finish considering its £700 price to give it a higher-end appearance.
Nevertheless, measuring 25.4mm thick and weighing 1.5kg, it does feel rather sturdy. Closing it down and picking it up, the R14 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 heavier than you'd like for a transportable device. However it's nowhere near as heavy as the Aspire R7, so it's definitely more ideal for those who often want to transport the device between office and home.
As for the keyboard, it feels high quality and was easy enough to type on. Knocking out a few sentences seemed pleasant enough, so we think it will be good to type on.
The Acer Aspire R13 has an active stylus for note-taking, digital design work and other creative work. In our tests it seemed fluid and responsive, though not as responsive as Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 stylus pen.
The Acer Aspire 13 comes with a 13.3in screen, with the options of 2540x1440 or 1920x1080 resolution. It has a brilliantly vibrant display with very responsive touch and minimal glare. The Full HD model will use an IPS panel, while the 2560x1440 QHD model will have an IGZO panel.
When testing the rotating display, we found that tilting the screen to change the viewing angle works very easily and stays in the position you want it to, due to the Ezel Aero Hinge.
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 R13.
In terms of power, users can choose between Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processors, up to 8GB of memory and up to 1TB SSD when buying the Aspire R14.
Unfortunately, we didn't have long enough to test the Acer Aspire R13'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 its Intel Core i5 processor.
The Aspire R13 offers a fresh and innovative design in the Windows 8.1 laptop market and in our short experience with it, we found it fun to use with fast and responsive performance.
The Acer Aspire R13 will be available in the UK from October priced from £699. µ