Acer Aspire R 13 review: A convertible laptop done right

Acer's Aspire R 13 features an "ezel" display that gets the screen significantly closer to your eyes.

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The Acer Aspire R 13's double-hinge design might throw some people off, but it's very useful.

I’ve given Acer grief over some of its products in the past, mostly its cheap and often poorly-realized Iconia stuff. But give the company its due: When the design team has a good day, it produces some excellent laptops. A prime example is the Aspire R 13, a fast ultrabook with long run time and a versatile dual-hinge mount that lets you rotate and re-orient the touchscreen display in a number of useful positions. I’ve seen it elsewhere described as clunky. I like it. Opinions vary.

Design

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The dual-hinge design allows you to scoot the Aspire R 13's display forward without blocking the keyboard.

Though it’s not the first company to employ a dual-hinge display mount, (Dell’s XPS 12 ultrabook convertible employs the same basic idea), Acer’s take on it is superb. Acer calls it the Ezel hinge and has trademarked the name. OK. I particularly like the way the design lets you scoot the display forward for closer viewing while still maintaining a decent viewing angle and unfettered access to the keyboard. You can also flip it and turn the laptop around for watching movies without the distraction of the keyboard deck, minor as that is.

The Aspire R 13’s appearance is handsome iand unique. I actually used the word “cool” when I first saw it because the dual-hinge functionality is in full view. I also like the minimalist design that focuses your attention on what matters—the screen and to a lesser extent, the keyboard.

The backlit, Chiclet-style keyboard is one of Acer’s better planks. It’s not quite in the same league as a Lenovo, or some Dells in terms of feel, but it’s more than type-able and I particularly like the bright, white-and-blue text. Even if you touch-type, the brighter text helps you orient your fingers at the get-go, and helps you more easily discern the secondary functions.

I also found the one-piece touchpad well-adjusted and solid-feeling. I’ve recently run into a spate of touchpads that are overly sensitive (for my tastes) to taps, and it was nice not inadvertently clicking all the time. The touchscreen was responsive to both my fingers and the Acer Active Pen. There's a hover function with the pen, so you don't actually have to touch the display with the pen to clic PCWorld | Server Error

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