After spending time with the Acer Aspire R 13, we are impressed by the Ezel Aero Hinge that enables the R 13 to function in six different modes. You can tell Acer focused on the details of this hinge and the overall design engineering of the machine. These little details make a big difference in how the different modes feel and function. For example, you can open the machine with your thumb with ease yet the screen still holds its position even in Ezel and Stand modes, where the hinge is the only thing holding the display in place.
In addition to offering flexible usage modes, the R 13 is designed to give users good performance, as you can see from looking at the specifications of this system. With a 2.40 GHz Dual-core Intel Core i7-5500U, 8GB of memory, and a 256GB solid state drive, this system has hardware that is designed to offer great performance for its class. In our benchmark tests, the R 13 consistently performed very well, often earning a spot at the top of our comparison charts. In real-world testing, the system responded to our requests quickly.
The overall styling of the R 13 is a bit more mundane, beyond its innovative hinge. The system doesn’t feel cheap, but it does lack the premium look we’ve seen on other notebooks that feature edge-to-edge displays and aluminum casing. Since the U-shaped frame that surrounds the display extends only halfway up the side, some may feel the R 13 looks a bit unfinished due to the extra angles and raised edges. If the look of this U-shaped frame is a deterrent to you and you’re willing to give up a couple of usage modes, then Lenovo’s Yoga 3 Pro may be a better option, though it's lower power Core M processor won't keep up with Acer's config here.
In our opinion, the Aspire R 13’s weakest feature is its battery life. In our custom web browsing test, the R 13 survived for about 5 hours and 43 minutes. In this test, the R 13 lasted for longer than the Asus T300 Chi convertible notebook, but not nearly as long as the aforementioned and admittedly lower-powered Yoga 3 Pro.
Measuring about 0.7 inches thick and weighing just over 3 pounds, the R 13’s size is on par with what we’d expect from this type of system. Our test model also featured the high resolution 13.3-inch WQHD (2560 x 1440) display. We had one of the higher-end models of the R 13, though users who want the same flexibility and are willing to scale back a bit on the hardware will be able to save some money with Acer’s other R 13 models, and those configs could offer better battery life as well, with lower power processors.
Acer’s optional Active Stylus accessory is a nice option to have, though serious graphic artists will probably want to stick with their dedicated drawing tablets. That said, this is a useful accessory for students or business professionals who want to annotate documents or for casual drawing or brainstorming.
The Aspire R 13 aims to deliver a flexible system that also has adequate power for today’s users. We feel Acer did a terrific job at creating a system that offers more usage options than most competitive systems without making a big sacrifice in performance or cost.