GADGET WATCH: Acer Aspire R7

The tablet hybrid market is in full swing, with plenty of manufacturers attempting to jump on the trend. Acer has built some solid laptops, but can its latest tablet-laptop hybrid provide some decent competition?

Hardware and features

The Aspire R7 is powered by a Core i5 processor, with 6GB of RAM and 524GB of storage. It comes installed with Windows 8.

The R7 also features three USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port, and Wi-Fi. The screen measures 15.6 inches with a native resolution of 1920×1080. The R7 also comes with an SD card reader, four separate speakers and Bluetooth connectivity.

What’s the consensus?

At The Verge, the publication delved into the most noticeable aspect of the Aspire R7 – a twistable hinge that allows the screen to be placed in multiple directions.

There are four different modes for the R7. The first looks like a traditional laptop, along with the display mode where users can switch the screen 180 degrees and point away from the keyboard. The pad mode allows the screen to sit on top of the keyboard like a laptop, while Ezel mode allows the screen to detach from the keyboard itself and operate at an angel.

“The hinge gymnastics only really work because the R7’s display is so good. It’s a 15.6-inch 1080p panel with 10 fingers of multi-touch support, and it’s accurate and vivid from any angle – viewing angles are crucial on a device you’ll use in so many configurations, and Acer gets it right here.”

“The screen is also blindingly bright, with 40% brightness more than serving my needs.”

At Engadget, the publication noted the placement of the trackpad above the keyboard, although it said this design “feels strange”.

“If you, like us, prefer the physical clicker over a less-reliable finger when tapping or selecting small on-screen items, you’ll find yourself reaching for the R7’s touchpad quite a bit.”

“This is both uncomfortable — you’ll have to stretch your hand much farther than you’re used to — and inconvenient if you’re using the machine in Ezel mode, since you’ll have to push the screen back to access the trackpad.”

However, CNET praised the inclusion of plenty of ports, including HDMI and USB connections, and recorded similar benchmarking statistics to other laptops in its class.

“Battery life was decent for a midsize laptop, at 4 hours and 8 minutes on our video playback battery drain test. That’s almost exactly the same battery life as Sony’s midsize Fit 14 laptop and Dell’s 18-inch XPS 18 tabletop PC. Frankly, the 5-pound-plus R7 is too heavy to lug around on a regular basis, so 4 hours seems more than fair.”

Who’s it for?

The design of the Aspire R7 is certainly unique. But as these reviewers point out, it comes at the expense of usability, namely the trackpad being placed above the keyboard.

While the device works well and provides good battery life, a big change in usability is likely to turn off users who just want a laptop to work the way it always has.

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