Acer Aspire R 13 Convertible 2-in-1 Review
At first glance, the R 13 looks like a traditional laptop. Upon closer examination, however, you'll notice the lid has a unique shape that hints at the fact that this isn’t your average laptop. Because of the U-shaped frame around the display, there is about a half-inch gap between it and base of the machine on both sides of the display. Some people may feel this gap makes the machine look unfinished, but it really didn't bother us. In fact, the gap was occasionally useful as a spot to grip the laptop.
Acer’s unique Ezel Aero hinge uses this U-shaped frame to enable the display to rotate 180-degrees. If you look at the U-shaped frame more closely, you’ll notice it has a c-shape structure near the base which adds to the stability of the notebook. The display attaches to this hinge at the sides. Acer uses a dual-torque hinge to help ensure the display stays stable when using touchscreen navigation. This hinge also makes it possible to open the lid with one hand and keeps the screen locked in place, regardless of which mode you’re using.
Speaking of opening the R 13 with one hand, the top edge of the display has a slight lip. There’s also a small indent below the R 13’s touchpad on the base of the machine. These two design features give you just enough of an area to grip the lid to easily open the machine with your thumb.
The Ezel Aero hinge is impressively stiff, yet comfortable. Acer has struck a good balance here—the hinge is strong enough to hold the display in nearly any position you desire while still being flexible enough to easily change modes without a lot of effort or force from the user.
In total, the R 13 offers six different usage modes as you can see in the image below. Notebook mode offers a traditional clamshell shape. If you’re browsing the web or reading and don’t need the use of the keyboard, Ezel mode brings the display a bit closer to the user. In Stand mode, the display is at a flatter angle than Ezel mode, making it easy to draw or take notes. Pad mode gives you a tablet mode. The slight lip on the top edge of the display is also utilized in Pad mode, as it prevents the screen from rotating too far on the hinge. Tent mode is designed for areas where space is limited, such as watching a movie on an airplane. Finally, Display mode is useful for showing photos and presentations or playing games with friends.
We were impressed at how well the R 13 held its position in all modes mentioned above. Even when we tapped the touchscreen in Stand mode, the R 13 didn’t move from its position. When we wanted to change positions, the hinge was comfortably stiff. For extra durability, Acer encased the touchscreen and outer lid in a sheet of Gorilla Glass 3. Overall, we’re impressed at all of the little details Acer put into making this display and hinge really great.
Our test model has the high-resolution WQHD 2560 x 1440 display. This display is colorful and crisp with excellent viewing angles. Acer utilized Zero Air Gap Technology in this display to help reduce reflections, increase contrast, and improve readability in sunny conditions. Acer also added an anti-fingerprint caoting and a built-in light sensor to the display. Although a few fingerprints occasionally collected on the screen, the R 13 seemed much less fingerprint-prone than most touchscreen displays we’ve tested.
In an effort to keep the R 13 cool, Acer designed a dual air-intake design. We occasionally heard the fans spin up, but the noise was no worse than other laptops in this class. Looking at the bottom of the machine, you’ll notice four rubber feet that help lift the machine from a desk to allow for better airflow. During our time with the system, it got slightly warm but was still very comfortable to hold on our lap.
On the left edge of the R 13, you’ll find an HDMI port, USB 3.0 port with charging capabilities, another USB 3.0 port, and a 3.5mm headset jack. Dual array microphones are located on the front edge of the R 13 not far from the multi-gesture touchpad. The right edge of the machine contains an SD card reader, USB 2.0 port, Power button, and charging port.
The R 13’s keyboard is backlit. Typing on the keyboard is very comfortable. A few functions and keys are rearranged from what we’re accustomed to seeing, but users will likely adjust to this slightly modified layout. For example, the Caps Lock and Escape keys are smaller than on most keyboards. Acer also managed to squeeze in directional arrows and page up/down keys below the rightmost Shift key.