BERLIN -- Acer is taking its R-series in a new direction with the arrival of the Acer Aspire R 13. In launching the new models, Acer said it was blending the styling of its S series and the convertible nature of the R series together into the new design.
The 13.3-inch Aspire R 13 features a new take on Acer's Ezel hinge, shifting the connection point from the back of the screen to the outside edges in a U-shaped frame. Acer claims the hinge remains stable in any position, making it easy to adjust the screen position to suit your preferred angle. The new hinge is dubbed the Ezel Aero.
In practice, the hinge does feel nice, very sturdy and precise but not too hard to move. The back of the screen has a smooth gloss finish that feels similar to the touchscreen itself, giving it a premium appearance. The overall finish of the notebook is solid, and at a quick glance, suggests a high quality.
The R 13 boasts six modes of use. Yes, six. These are: Notebook, Ezel (hovering the screen at your preferred angle), Stand (kicked forward in front of the keyboard for use with the optional Acer Active Pen or touchscreen features), Pad (tablet mode), Tent (touchscreen or media mode, where space is restricted), and Display (presentation mode).
The Ezel hovering mode actually feels useful, with the hinge working nicely to keep the screen fixed in any tilted orientation that suits your usage style. If you're a confident touch typist, you can have the screen hovering above your hands to feel closer to what you're looking at while still typing at speed.
Beyond the screen tricks, the R 13 also features Dolby Digital Plus Home Theatre audio, which among other things maintains the correct orientation for your audio channels no matter which orientation you've set yourself into.
The R 13 can be pushed to high-end usage requirements, with specs available up to a 2,560x1,440-resolution display, or the more basic option, which is 1,920x1,080. The screen features Gorilla Glass 3 and antifingerprint coating. Both screen variations use Zero Air Gap technology, with only the 1080p option using an IPS panel. Processors can be selected up to Intel Core i7, storage up to a 1TB SSD (in RAID 0), and up to 8GB of RAM.
Other specs include two USB 3.0 ports, one with power-off charging capabilities, one USB 2.0, an SD card reader, an HDMI port with HDCP support, and an ambient light sensor for automatic brightness adjustment and keyboard backlight control.
The Acer Aspire R13 will be available in the US from October from $899.99 (which converts to £547), and in Europe from November from €899 (US$1,182, £719), a stiff premium over the US entry point. In Australia, it will start as a Harvey Norman exclusive for AU$1,999 -- an even larger premium.