Acer Aspire R7 review: An experimental laptop that both hits and misses

The display itself is excellent, with a 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution under edge-to-edge glass. Off-axis viewing angles are excellent, and the touch response is lag-free. Popping into the Windows 8 tile menu, the view may be a bit crowded -- our system came preloaded with more software (and/or bloatware) than any other Windows 8 system to date, including tiles for Zinio, eBay, ChaCha, and many others, as well as proprietary Acer software for cloud storage and image sorting.

Acer Aspire R7 Average for category [midsize]
Video HDMI, DisplayPort VGA plus HDMI or DisplayPort
Audio Quad speakers, combo headphone/microphone jack Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks
Data 2 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0, SD card reader 2 USB 3.0, 2 USB 2.0, SD card reader
Networking 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Optical drive None DVD burner

Connections, performance, and battery
For such an unusual system, the Acer R7 has a decent set of ports and connections, including both HDMI and DisplayPort video outputs, as well as one USB port that can be used to power devices even when the system is off.

For now, the single $999 configuration offers a reasonable set of components for that price, including an Intel Core i5 CPU, 6GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive, with a 24GB SSD cache, all with a full-HD 1,920x1,080-pixel display.

In benchmark testing, that Core i5-3337U processor performed largely as expected, matching up almost exactly with other laptops and all-in-one desktops with similar components. For everyday use, a low-voltage Core i5 handles multitasking, Web surfing, HD video playback, and touch-screen interaction seamlessly, and you're unlikely to run into any bottlenecks.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The limited Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics mean this isn't a machine suited for gaming at all but the most casual level. The current BioShock Infinite ran at only 8.82 frames per second at 1,920x1,080 at medium settings.

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.

Conclusion
The Acer Aspire R7 is an unusual laptop/tablet hybrid, and we definitely need companies such as Acer continuing to experiment with different designs and features in an ongoing effort to make computers easier to use and better integrated with our on-the-go lives.

With that in mind, we also have to be honest when these experiments don't completely work out, and I think it's safe to say that both the touch pad above the keyboard and the tablet screen that doesn't quite fold all the way down are design features that won't make it into many future laptops.

But, as a mainstream 15-inch touch-screen laptop with a screen that offers great flexibility for displaying content forward, backward, and nearly any angle in between, the $999 price of the R7 seems spot on, and Acer deserves credit for making out-there designs that are also affordable.

Multimedia multitasking test
(In seconds; shorter bars indicate better performance)
Dell XPS AIO
526 
Acer R7-571-6858 Touch Notebook
579 
Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test
(In seconds; shorter bars indicate better performance)
Acer R7-571-6858 Touch Notebook
271 
Dell XPS AIO
273 
Apple iTunes encoding test
(In seconds; shorter bars indicate better performance)
Acer R7-571-6858 Touch Notebook
125 
Dell XPS AIO
126 
Video playback battery drain test
(In minutes; longer bars indicate better performance)
Acer R7-571-6858 Touch Notebook
248 
Dell XPS AIO
245 

Find out more about how we test Windows laptops.

System configurations:

Acer R7-571-6858 Touch Notebook
Windows 8 (64-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Core i5 3337U; 6GB DDR3 SDRAM 1600MHz; 32MB (Dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 4000; HD 1 24GB SSD HD 2 500GB 5,400rpm hard drive,

Sony Vaio Fit SVF14A15CXB
Windows 8 (64-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Core i5 3427; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 32MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 750GB Toshiba 5,400rpm hard drive

Dell XPS 18
Windows 8 Pro (64-bit); 1.8GHZ Intel Core i5-3337U; 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; Intel HD Graphics 4000 embedded graphics chip; HD1 32GB SSD HD2 500GB 5,400rpm hard drive

HP Pavilion TouchSmart 15 Sleekbook
Windows 8 (64-bit) w/sp 1; 1.8GHz AMD A8-455M APU; 6GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 512MB (Shared) AMD Radeon HD 7600G; 750GB Seagate 5,400rpm hard drive

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Resolution 1920 x 1080 ( Full HD )
  • Operating System Windows 8 64-bit Edition
  • Installed Size 6 GB
  • Color silver
  • Weight 5.3 lbs
  • Graphics Processor Intel HD Graphics 4000
  • CPU Intel Core i5 (3rd Gen) 3337U / 1.8 GHz
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