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Acer updates ambitious Aspire R7 hybrid

This large hybrid gets a new CPU and stylus, but no design overhaul.


The Acer Aspire R7 was an ambitious laptop/tablet hybrid that fell short in actual usability, despite an interesting experimental design.

When first reviewed in May 2013, this 15-inch laptop won praise for being reasonably priced and for its sturdy "Ezel" hinge, which allowed the screen to flip over backward or fold down like a tablet. Except that the tablet mode didn't fully fold down flat -- because of the curved hinge, it stayed propped up a bit on its top edge. Add to that a touch pad that was repositioned above the keyboard, and you had a hybrid that presented a lot of interesting ideas, but didn't always make a compelling argument for them.

As part of the last wave of new PC products we're likely to see in 2013, Acer now has an updated version of the Aspire R7. The external design remains the same, but there is a decent list of internal upgrades if you've been considering one of these.

First, the CPU has been updated to a newer Intel fourth-generation Core i5, a move many other laptops and hybrids have been making since the summer of 2013. These newer CPUs offer similar performance, but much better battery life. As the original R7 ran for only four hours on our battery life tests, that could be a significant step in the right direction.

Also new is a digitizer-enabled touch screen, allowing you to use a sold-separately Acer active stylus ($49). With a 15.6-inch 1,920x1,080-pixel screen, there's a case to be made for this as a large art canvas.

The $999 original Aspire R7 had 6GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive (with a small SSD cache), while the new version cuts the price to $899, and bumps those specs to 8GB of RAM and a 1TB HDD.

The revamped Acer Aspire R7 will be sold exclusively at Best Buy, starting in early December.