The Bottom Line
Jul 15 2013 - Acer's new convertible laptop certainly offers a much different approach with its actually good screen that allows for a wide range of adjustments. The hinge design works quite well and is built solid to hold up to the frequent use. The problem is that the design layout of the keyboard and trackpad make the system quite awkward to use in many configurations. In addition, the size and weight of the laptop also make it less useful to use as a tablet style system.
- Nice Bright Screen
- Hinge Allows For Multiple Display Modes
- Well Built
- Size and Weight Make It Less Suitable For Hybrid Use
- Awkward Keyboard and Trackpad Placement
- Below Average Battery Life
- Intel Core i5-3337U Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 6GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 500GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive With 24GB Solid State Cache
- 15.6" WUXGA (1920x1080) Multitouch Display With 720p Webcam
- Intel HD Graphics 4000 Integrated Graphics
- 802.11a/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Two USB 3.0, One USB 2.0, HDMI, VGA, 4-in-1 Card Reader
- 14.8" x 10" x 1.1" @ 5.3 lbs.
- Windows 8
Review - Acer Aspire R7-571-6858
Jul 15 2013 - Acer's Aspire R7 is a very different laptop from the company as it is their first real entry into the convertible or hybrid laptop market. What is really surprising though is that this is a 15-inch hybrid that makes it much larger than most with use a 13-inch or smaller screen. While its 1.1-inch thickness and five and a quarter pound weight are not uncommon for this size screen, they do make the system much less functional especially in the pad layout when the screen is folded back over the keyboard. The exposed two dual hinge and stand design does make the cover a bit different especially with the cut out so it can fold back over but the design is actually quite sturdy and should hold up well.
Rather than using a high performance laptop processor for the Aspire R7, Acer has elected to use a lower voltage Intel Core i5-3337U dual core processor that is more commonly used in ultrabooks. It does provide it with sufficient performance for the average user that typically just uses their computer to browse the web, do email, watching media and some productivity applications. It would be nice to see a bit more performance but the choice is understandable given its hybrid design elements. The processor is matched up with 6GB of DDR3 memory which is a bit odd these days as most systems elect to use 8GB. It still provides a smooth enough experience with Windows 8 but it would have been nice to be a bit higher for those that doing lots of multitasking.
Storage for the Acer Aspire R7 uses a hybrid setup that combines a traditional 500GB hard drive with a 24GB solid state drive used for caching. The result is a good amount of storage space that also offers some reasonable performance. Cold boots take around a quarter of a minute which is much faster than a traditional hard drive but still not as quick as dedicated solid state drive based laptops. If you do need additional space, there are two USB 3.0 ports that are available for use with high speed external hard drives. There is no optical drive which is becoming much more common for laptops these days and there is a small card reader for use with the most common flash cards.
Of course the display is the most unique aspect of the Aspire R7. With its double hinge system, the display can be used in four different positions, traditional laptop clamshell, a more forward flush position, reversed so it faces away from the keyboard and finally a tablet mode. This makes it a somewhat similar to the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 but with a more flexible hinge and larger display. The screen itself is a nice IPS based technology screen that features a 1920x1080 resolution. It offers good color and nice viewing angles. The multitouch aspect was responsive and is certainly easier to use than the trackpad. The downside is that even with this adjustment ability, the system is best used as a standard laptop with the display flush near the keyboard than most of the other modes. In terms of the graphics, it uses the Intel HD Graphics 4000 that are built into the Core i5 processor which means it isn't well suited to 3D PC gaming but does fine with most basic tasks. It also offers acceleration of media encoding when used with Quick Sync compatible applications.
The distinctive design of the Acer Aspire R7 also applies to the layout of the keyboard and the trackpad. Instead of the trackpad below the keyboard, it is above it. This means that the trackpad is frankly almost an afterthought as the touchscreen is likely going to be much more convenient to use. In fact, the most common screen placement means that the trackpad isn't even accessible. The keyboard is your standard isolated design but it is is down at the edge of the laptop meaning there is no palmrest area. This can get uncomfortable for those that are used to resting their palms against the surface. The keyboard is also recessed slightly for when the display is in the tablet mode. It is a decent enough keyboard if you can get used to the placement.
For the battery, Acer opted to use a relatively small four cell internal battery pack with just a 3560mAh capacity rating. Frankly, this is a very small battery pack for this size of laptop. In digital video playback tests, the system lasted just four and a half hours. This puts it well below the standard 15-inch class laptop and is especially disappointing considering the low voltage processor. It certainly falls well short of the Apple MacBook Pro 15 with Retina Display at seven hours and yet it provides higher performance and in a more compact and lightweight design.
Priced at roughly $1000, the Acer Aspire R7 is actually fairly reasonably priced considering its features. There isn't really a similar sized hybrid laptop that compares to it but the closest would be the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 which is more compact and better suited for those that want to use it also as a tablet. It does sacrifice screen resolution and storage space and is slightly more expensive for similar configurations. If you don't require the hybrid screen design, there are plenty of laptops in this price range that offer similar levels of performance but are more compact. These include the HP Envy Ultrabook 4, Dell XPS 14 and even the new Sony VAIO Fit. In each of these cases though, they sacrifice screen resolution and touchscreen capabilities in order to be more compact.