When Acer plans a global press event, asking journalists to fly in from twelve time zones away, you know it’s going to announce more than just some back-to-school PCs. The company just announced the Aspire R7, a 15-inch laptop whose display sits on a flexible “Ezel” hinge, allowing it to be pushed up and back so that it lies nearly flat — yep, just like an all-in-one desktop. Similar to the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga line, too, you can flip the screen all the way back so that it faces away from the keyboard, a feature that seems especially well-suited for giving presentations.
In terms of specs, Acer is being a little cagey, but we have learned the R7 has a 15.6-inch, 1080p display with a choice of Core i5 and i7 processors. The whole thing weighs in the neighborhood of five and a half pounds. Also confirmed: it’s up for pre-order now for $999, available exclusively at Best Buy in the US. We’re told it will ship May 17th. In the meantime, we’ve got hands-on photos below, and we’ll very shortly be adding some first impressions after the break.
As weird as the R7 looks, it’s in many ways just another Windows 8 slider — just bigger with a hinge design we haven’t really seen used on a notebook before. Still, the R7 appears to present many of the same advantages and disadvantages as other sliders we’ve seen: despite being a reasonably large machine, it’s keyboard is about as cramped as what you’d find on a much smaller PC. That’s because when the display is propped up, it eats up at least half the available deck space.
Giving credit where it’s due, though, the backlit keys at least have a pleasantly soft finish, and feel nice to type on. But all these things are trade-offs, right? In exchange for the squat keyboard you get a display with truly adjustable screen angles — something we can’t say about other sliders we’ve tested. Also, we’ll go on record saying that this is one of the smoothest, most controlled hinges we’ve ever encountered — not just on slider convertibles, but on desktops, too. The question, we suppose is: how badly do you need a table-top display that you’d be willing to compromise on the typing experience?
Terrence O’Brien contributed to this report.
Update: We’ve updated this post with some key specs, along with hands-on photos.
Update #2: We’ve confirmed the price is $999 in the US. And it will ship May 17th, not the 14th.