Acer's refreshed Aspire R7 hybrid laptop boasts a unique design and new features that make it better for business.
The machine is an updated version of the 15.6-inch Aspire R7, which debuted earlier this year with a novel hinge and a sharp touch screen.
The hinge lets users reposition the display in a variety of ways for a better viewing angle and easier access to the touch screen. And the updated 2013 model packs Windows 8.1, better specs and a longer battery life.
Read on for five features that make the Acer Aspire R7-571 a one-of-a-kind business laptop.
No other laptop-tablet hybrid comes with a hinge quite like the one on Acer's machine, which lets users choose between notebook, Pad and Ezel modes.
With the hinge in the default position, the machine opens and shuts with the clamshell design of a traditional notebook PC.
In Pad mode, the display can be flipped and set down over the keyboard, allowing the machine to be used like a tablet.
Meanwhile, Ezel mode lets you use the hinge to move the display to the front of the system — a setup akin to an artist's easel (hence the name "Ezel"). In this mode, the display can cover all or part of the touchpad and keyboard, bringing it closer to the front of the machine for easier touch access.
The feature means business users can better take advantage of the touch-centric features of Windows 8.1, including a library of Windows 8 mobile productivity and business apps available via the Windows Store.
Notebook touchpads are also finicky and imprecise, forcing some business users to pack a Bluetooth mouse when they're on the go. The touch screen on a Windows 8 laptop is a decent alternative that's more precise than a touchpad, so having the option to pull the R7's touch screen in closer is a perk.
The screen also can be flipped 180 degrees while the machine is in notebook mode. The reversed position could come in handy for business users who want to use the screen for presentations, or even as an in-store display.
A brushed metal finish and smooth curves make the large hinge as attractive as it is functional, giving the machine a sleek, modern look in any position.
Don't expect the R7 to be a full replacement for ultraportable tablets and Ultrabooks. It's bigger, bulkier and heavier, tipping the scales at 5.4 lbs. — more than twice the heft of the 10.8-inch Surface Pro 2 with keyboard.
Also bear in mind that the curved design of the hinge keeps the display from folding all the way down when the device is in Pad mode; the display stays propped up a bit at the top edge.
And if you want to use the touchpad, its unusual positioning behind the keyboard could take some getting used to.
The new R7 ships with a stylus, an accessory that wasn't available for the first model.
That could be a plus for business users who prefer to use a stylus to record longhand notes digitally or draw diagrams for presentations. It's also handy for users who simply want a bit more precision when using the touch screen.
It also eliminates smudges and fingerprints left on the screen. And because the tip of the stylus is flat and wide, you won't have to worry about scratching your screen.
With the R7, expect smooth, responsive writing and drawing, thanks to its digitizer-enabled, pressure-sensitive screen. However, you'll have to find somewhere to store the stylus when it's not in use; there's nowhere on the machine's chassis in which to stow it.
The new R7 also ships with a wireless mouse included, if you prefer it to the touchpad or touch screen.
The second iteration of Acer's R7 hybrid features moderately improved specifications over the first model, including a new 4th-generation Intel Core i5 processor.
The new CPU offers similar performance, but with drastically reduced energy consumption. That should help address complaints about the short battery life of the first R7.
Acer claims that the updated machine will run for an average of more than 6.5 hours on a charge — about an hour and a half longer than its predecessor.
That's good news for business users who need to work on the go; longer battery life means more productivity in between charges.
The new R7 ships with Windows 8.1, which offers a variety of productivity-boosting features.
The Windows 8 operating system was built from the ground up with touch screens in mind, so it works just as well on a tablet as on a desktop. That makes it a versatile option for bring-your-own-device offices.
The launch of Windows 8.1 added NFC tap-to-pair printing, native broadband tethering, new security benefits (including support for fingerprint-scanning devices) and more.
It also now supports broadband tethering, allowing users to turn the R7 into a mobile hotspot so they can stay connected on all of their devices.
Business owners can even remotely wipe company data on devices while leaving a user's personal files intact.
The new R7 retails for $899, a price point that's competitive with high-end tablets and Ultrabooks. It's also cheaper than the previous model, which debuted at $999.
For that price, the Aspire R7-571 boasts features business users won't find replicated on any other device.
But those features come at a cost. If you're a heavy trackpad user, its unusual positioning could cause a bit of wrist strain. Moreover, its overall bulk makes it a bit unwieldy in Pad mode; if you're in the market for a portable business tablet, look elsewhere.
Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.