This hybrid computer is unusual even by convertible laptop standards, a category with its fair share of exotic designs.
Most convertibles tout four usage modes - laptop, stand, tablet and tent - a design popularised by the Lenovo Yoga. But as the sticker on the Aspire's palm rest makes clear, this device has six usage modes. However, that would be overly generous as two modes seem to overlap.
This computer's 13.3-inch touchscreen can rotate 360 degrees inside a thin frame like the Dell XPS 12's. But the Aspire R13's unique Ezel mode is inspired by the older Acer Aspire R7. To enable this "easel" mode, pull the touchscreen towards you so that it blocks the keyboard. Then you use the bundled stylus pen (a nice metal version) and the touchpad to input your content.
The rotating hinge for the screen feels sturdy. It did not wobble when subjected to my aggressive tapping. The lid is covered in Corning Gorilla Glass, with a glowing white Acer logo.
Despite the extra layer of glass, the Aspire R13 is handy enough at 1.5kg. It feels like a premium device, but I have my doubts about the utility of all its different usage modes. Especially when it has a few design choices that did not quite work for me.
For instance, the keyboard has five rows of keys instead of the usual six. The row of Function keys has been combined with the Numbers row. The Caps Lock key is half the usual size and the keyboard feels mushy and shallow. The touchpad feels short, though it is wide enough.
The full high-definition screen has excellent viewing angles as it uses an in-plane switching panel. Colours look vibrant, too. However, the screen looks a bit dim even at the maximum brightness. Running Intel's latest fifth-generation Core processor, it scored a solid 5,000 points in the system benchmark PCMark 7.
The main contributor to the impression of speed: Two solid-state drives configured in Raid. But it has bloatware, such as an Amazon app on the Taskbar and short cuts to Ebay and Agoda webpages. Acer's own video app and cloud backup solution arguably fall into this category, too.
Battery life was excellent with the device lasting just more than eight hours when playing a video.
The extra usage modes seem gimmicky. But its performance is good and it looks, feels and is priced like a high-end device.
Processor: Intel Core i7-5500U (2.4GHz)
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500
Screen size: 13.3 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels
Connectivity: 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, HDMI, SD card reader, audio jack
Battery: 48 watt-hour
Value for money 3/5
Battery life 5/5
This article was first published on Mar 11, 2015.
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