CNET First Look
Acer's Aspire R7 hybrid takes chancesAcer deserves credit for trying new things in the ambitious Aspire R7, but it may just be too outside the mainstream for wide appeal.
I'm Dan Ackerman, we are here taken look at the Acer Aspire R7, an experimental laptop if I've ever seen one. This is the flagship of Acer's new lineup of systems and it does a lot of things that most laptops frankly don't do. The first thing you're gonna see is that the touchpad is above the keyboard instead of below the keyboard. That's kind of a big break from tradition. You know, there might be a reason for it. Frankly, I never quite got used to it. I think a lot of people will actually be turned off by that. May be if you use the keyboard a lot without training, you don't use the touchpad that much, I suppose it might be easier, but I found myself just reaching over and constantly, you know, tiring my arm trying to reach the touchpad. But that's probably the least weird thing about the R7. The laptop screen is actually on kind of a floating hinge so you can tilt it up like this and then bring it forward so it can set right here behind the keyboard like this. It can face straight up if you really. You can really reach a bunch of different angles, kinda like a mini desktop all in one. And then you can actually take the screen and if we put the entire thing around, you can flip it around backwards like this and show somebody who's behind you what you're working on and that's actually one of the more useful things about this system. I always like laptop and they are handful of them that can take the screen and projected out backwards so I think that's pretty cool. Now, Acer also says you can fold in the entire thing down and use it like a tablet. And here is a 15-inch tablet, not something that you see that often, but I like bigger tablets. But here's the other weird thing. The tablet mode doesn't actually lie down completely flat because the curve hinge. You can see right here. It's actually got a little bit of a gap here and that holds the screen up at an angle. Now, when you're sitting with this on you lap, that angle is actually pretty handy for typing. It makes a little bit more ergonomic, but you can't really carry around like a tablet because it's more of a triangle shape. It's just gonna stick and out like that and slightly it just looks like a design mistake. If you combine this with the touchpad being above the keyboard, there's 2 weird things that just frankly look like they were ideas that were maybe not as well thought out as they should have been. Now, the nice part here is this is a very experimental system. It's actually got decent components and a full 1920 x 1080 display and it's only $199 for that. And for a 15-inch nice touchscreen laptop, maybe you want a flexi screen like this, $999. That actually seems very reasonable. Now that being said, I think a lot of these experiments sort of miss more than they hit, so this may not be a practical system for too many people, but I have to definitely applaud Acer taking some risks in playing around with the traditional laptop shape. I'm Dan Ackerman and that is the Acer Aspire R7.