Acer intros Aspire R7, a laptop with an adjustable display like an all-in-one (update: video)

When Acer plans a global press event, asking journalists to fly in from twelve time zones away, you know it's going to announce more than just some back-to-school PCs. The company just announced the Aspire R7, a 15-inch laptop whose display sits on a flexible "Ezel" hinge, allowing it to be pushed up and back so that it lies nearly flat -- yep, just like an all-in-one desktop. Similar to the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga line, too, you can flip the screen all the way back so that it faces away from the keyboard, a feature that seems especially well-suited for giving presentations.

In terms of specs, Acer is being a little cagey, but we have learned the R7 has a 15.6-inch, 1080p display with a choice of Core i5 and i7 processors. Pen input is possible too, though you'll be limited to passive capacitive pens (read: there's no active digitizer on board). The whole thing weighs in the neighborhood of five and a half pounds. Also confirmed: it's up for pre-order now for $999, available exclusively at Best Buy in the US. We're told it will ship May 17th. In the meantime, we've got hands-on photos below, and we'll very shortly be adding some first impressions after the break.

As weird as the R7 looks, it's in many ways just another Windows 8 slider -- just bigger with a hinge design we haven't really seen used on a notebook before. Still, the R7 appears to present many of the same advantages and disadvantages as other sliders we've seen: despite being a reasonably large machine, it's keyboard is about as cramped as what you'd find on a much smaller PC. That's because when the display is propped up, it eats up at least half the available deck space.

Giving credit where it's due, though, the backlit keys at least have a pleasantly soft finish, and feel nice to type on. But all these things are trade-offs, right? In exchange for the squat keyboard you get a display with truly adjustable screen angles -- something we can't say about other sliders we've tested. Also, we'll go on record saying that this is one of the smoothest, most controlled hinges we've ever encountered -- not just on slider convertibles, but on desktops, too. The question, we suppose is: how badly do you need a table-top display that you'd be willing to compromise on the typing experience?

Terrence O'Brien contributed to this report.

Update: We've updated this post with some key specs, along with hands-on photos.

Update #2: We've confirmed the price is $999 in the US. And it will ship May 17th, not the 14th.

Acer Aspire R7 hands-on

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Acer Defines Touch and Type Experience with New Aspire R7

Designed to create the best touch and type experience, the R7 features a repositioned keyboard and a high-definition touchscreen mounted on a revolutionary "Ezel Hinge" that allows it to flip, reverse, lie flat or float

NEW YORK (May 3, 2013) At a press event held today in New York, Acer unveiled the Aspire R7, a revolutionary 15.6-inch notebook that will redefine the touch and type computing experience. Featuring a Full HD 1920x1080 touch screen, the Acer R7 was made for the new computing lifestyle, which increasingly combines touching and typing. With a repositioned keyboard and a revolutionary "Ezel Hinge" that moves the display forwardand into different positions, the R7 makes the combination of touching the screen andusing the keyboard more intuitive and natural. Its ergonomic design allows users to explore anddetermine their own preferred way to interact with technology.

"With the Aspire R7, Acer has redesigned the laptop with an approach that's based on how people interact with their notebooks and other devices," said Sumit Agnihotry, vice president, product marketing, Acer America. "Itsprogressive designredefines the computing experience, so whether consumers are touching or typing, the R7 adapts to allow consumers tocreate, browse and share content in ways they never have before."

The Acer Aspire R7 was introduced today with other new products, including the Acer Aspire P3 Ultrabook, Acer Aspire V Series touch notebooks and Acer Iconia Android tablets. The new line of News releasecer mobile products highlights the company's focus on redefiningthe computing experience through progressive design. #AcerTouch.

As Acer's Exclusive Retail Partner, Best Buy Customers who Pre-Order Will Receive the new STAR TREK: THE VIDEO GAME for PC for Free

Available May 17th, consumers who place pre-orders with Best Buy between May 3 and May 16, 2013 will also receive a free download of STAR TREK: THE VIDEO GAME for PC as part of Acer's marketing partnership campaign with Paramount for the upcoming film, "Star Trek Into Darkness," opening on May 17, 2013.

"Best Buy has always been known for bringing innovative products exclusively to our customers, like the Aspire R7," said Jason Bonfig, vice president of computing at Best Buy. "Partnering with Acer to develop and launch this product is a perfect example of how we're working closer with our vendor partners to innovate and produce new and exciting technology for our customers, as part of our Renew Blue transformation strategy."

Four-in-One Design Lets Users Have it Their Way

"Acer believes touch will be crucial to the new computing experience," said Agnihotry. "There is nothing on the market so powerful and versatile which enables such easy video and picture editing or enjoyinga movie on a bigdisplay. As a powerful full-featured15.6-inchnotebook the Acer R7 enables a unique functionality in a design that makes more sense for a human, touch-enabled, world."

The Acer Aspire R7 lets consumers transform their notebook into the shape that best delivers an immersive content experience based on their usage needs. With four modes of operation, the R7 can easily be used as a traditional notebook, a table top pad, a display, or switched into "Ezel" mode, allowing the screen to float over the keyboard at various angles. This allows users to work where they want and how they want - seated or standing, at a desk or with it on their lap. The Ezel Hinge makes it easy to switchthe display around, to touch or type while creating, browsing or sharing content. Dual hinge technology allows for single-hand switching between modes and keeps the display rock-steady when touched.

1. Ezel Mode –Reach out and pull the display closer, eliminating the need to reach across the palm rest and keyboard to use the touch screen. Just pull itup and out where it can be positioned in front of the keyboard, or float over it. By pulling the display close, switching between touchscreen, keyboardand touchpad is seamless.

2. Notebook mode – Slide the display back behind the keyboard, and you have a powerful, full featured Windows 8 notebook computer with a 15.6-inch Full HD (1920x1080) touchscreen display, an Intel Core i5 processor, 6GB of memory, a 500GB hard drive, a 24GB SSD and a full-size backlit keyboard. It also includes a volume control button, HDMI port, SD card reader, audio jacks, three USB ports, WiFi, Bluetooth and a convenient converter port supporting VGA, RJ45 and USB.

3. Display Mode– Flip the screen over and it's positioned perfectly for watching a movie, showing photos or giving a presentation. Sharing and collaborating is simple, enjoyable and straightforward. With Acer's proven dual-torque design, the screenflips easily yet remains rigid when touched.

4. Pad Mode – Simply pull down the touchscreen and lay it on top of the keyboard with the face up, and the Aspire R7 morphs into a pad, without giving up the robust performance of a notebook. The ergonomic 4-degree tiltingangle makes it perfect for browsing, writing or drawing. It's ideal for pure touch interactions like casual gaming, browsing, drawing, annotating and more.

Premium Sound

Offering a superior audio visual experience, the R7's powerful features and high-definition display are complemented by a premium sound system with Dolby Home Theater v4 and four 8 watt speakers. Because of its transformative design, the audio channels automatically reverse when switching modes, so sound is always perfect.

In addition, Acer also relocated the placement of the dual microphones from the traditional notebook layout. Instead of positioning them on the LCD bezel near the webcam, they are placed along the front of the notebook, just under the spacebar. This provides for the best voice sound quality, and enhances the aesthetics of the touchscreen by eliminating the need for holes in the bezel.

Premium Design

In a manner befitting its revolutionary design, the Aspire R7 includes a unibody aluminum chassis, a beautiful brushed metal hinge, and an archedcover with very subtle curves and lines. The bottom features a soft touch finish for a securegrip, making it easy to grasp and carry. Even the keyboard placement was reconsidered in the new design. Repositioning it closer to the body in front of the chassis makes typing more comfortable and as efficient and as fluid as possible. The keys fall naturally under the fingers, eliminating the need to hold the arms out and over the palm rest and touch pad in order to type. The travel of the keys was also considered in the design, ensuring it is deep enough to provide a perceptible tactile response when typing, so that using the keyboard is just as enjoyable as touching the screen.

Red Dot Design Awardhe Acer Aspire R7 has already been awarded with the Red Dot, one of the world's most soughtafter quality marks for excellence in product design. The award is presented annually in the international competition by a jury of 37 design experts for the Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen of Germany. Design guru Jimmy Choo joined as a member of the jury for the first time in this year's competition, which received 4,662 entries in 19 categories. The Aspire R7 was selected in the "computers and information technology" category.

Availability and Pricing

Best Buy is Acer's exclusive retail partner. The R7-571-6858 has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price of of $999.99 USD. It will be available in stores and online for shipping on May 17th. Pre-orders can be placed now at www.bestbuy.com. Additional models and specifications will be announced in the following weeks

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Acer intros Aspire R7, a laptop with an adjustable display like an all-in-one (update: video)