Acer Aspire R7 Hands On: We're Not Quite Ready for This Kind of Crazy

By Kyle Wagner on at

Can we start by saying the Acer Aspire R7 is nuts, and that's totally great? Because it is; it's great that Acer's doing this weird new thing that doesn't exactly make sense, just to see if it works.

The very first thing you notice about the R7 becomes both the most and least important thing about using it: the Ezel hinge. It's very good at some of its jobs, and not very good at others. The problem is that it's got more to do than a typical hinge. It's got to not only open and close like a typical laptop, but adjust forward and backward like an actual easel.

Angling the screen with the top part of the hinge feels perfect. Tilting and flipping it all the way around to the other side (a novelty, but one you might actually use) takes just the right amount of force. But while you'll appreciate the back/bottom part of the hinge being so rigid while you're using the R7 as a touchscreen monitor — there's no wobble at all — it makes opening and closing the lid, and further, adjusting it forward or backwards, pretty inconvenient. That sounds like a small detail, and plenty of people won't mind a clumsy, two-handed process adjusting the hinge, but it's something you'll be doing quite often, given the trackpad placement.

About that. I'm not sure it makes that much ergonomic sense. The unit I used was on a raised box — about the level of a standing desk — and I didn't get to sit down with it on my lap. But I got the sense that the preferred use method is going to be with the screen mostly covering up the trackpad. That's where you'll see some benefit from the design, but it's still questionable, given standard placement would allow your hands to still be near the screen, but still have access to the trackpad. And on the lap, where the wrist rests can also act as a stabilising mechanism, this makes even less sense. There's definitely a type of user who's going to love this, though.

The most disappointing thing about the R7, overall, is that despite its naming lineage, it seems like a big step backward from the S7 in build quality. It's sturdy, to be sure, but its plasticy and uncomfortable keyboard is a step back from the S7's, which was polarising as far as usability, but always felt and looked premium. The 1080p 15-inch screen is very pretty, though large enough to be goofy when folded all the way down in tablet mode. It's not overly heavy, for a 15-inch device, but it ain't light, either.

The R7 is pretty clearly aimed at people who will be using it at a desk all day, and who have some compelling reason to be using touch over other input methods. It doesn't really make much sense for anyone else. Currently, that first group is small enough to not register on a wide scale. That might not be the case in the future, but for now, the R7 really isn't for everyone.