Acer unveils Aspire P3 convertible Ultrabook (update: video)

Acer brought a whole bunch of folks out to NYC for a global press conference and made sure the attending press got their money's worth. In addition to outing the unique convertible R7, the company unveiled the Aspire P3 -- its first convertible Windows 8 Ultrabook. The screen can be angled forward to use as a traditional (ish) laptop or completely folded down in slate mode. As you can see in the image, there's even a place to clip on a stylus. Acer wasn't too forthcoming with specs during the presentation, but we'll be sure to dig up those specifics when we get our hands-on (which should be coming shortly).

Update: You'll find impressions and specs after the break.


We'll say this: Acer knows how to package a device. Unlike many of its competitors, the Taiwanese company includes a keyboard case with this diminutive Windows 8 tablet. The base model will ship with a Core i3 CPU (upgradeable to an i5), 4GB of RAM and a 60GB SSD, for the reasonable price of $799. All that is packed into a surprisingly light 2.19-pound package (not including the keyboard). The 11.6-inch screen isn't a full HD panel, but at such a small size that amount of pixel density can start to wreak havoc on productivity anyway (Excel sheets are at 360ppi can put quite a strain on the eyes). The display is plenty crisp, though, if a tad too reflective. The overhead lighting at Acer's event resulted in quite a bit of glare getting in the way of our photos, as you can see.

The internals provided plenty of power to keep the P3 humming along at a brisk pace during our brief time with it, but we make no guarantees once you start loading up tons of poorly coded apps. The slate feels surprisingly solid in the hands, with no obvious give anywhere on the silvery chasis. Even near the exhaust vents theres no flex. On the right side you'll find a pretty standard-issue volume rocker and power button. Both are pretty middle of the road -- neither particularly squishy nor satisfyingly clicky. On the left are a full-sized USB, mini-HDMI and headphone jack.

The faux-leather Bluetooth keyboard case, on the other hand, leaves something to be desired. While its inclusion in the basic package is appreciated (and any keyboard is better than no keyboard with Windows), it had us feeling underwhelmed. The tablet fits rather snuggly into the top half of the case, so much so that it's actually kind of difficult to remove. But the plastic housing adds quite a bit of bulk to what is already relatively thick device. The keys on the deck are well spaced, but have very little travel making it hard to touch type, and there is a significant amount of flex to the board. The angle of the screen is also fixed, since the case relies on a notch above the keyboard (like many Nexus 7 cases) to keep the tablet stationary. Still, hopefully a few others (cough, Microsoft, cough cough) will take a lesson from Acer and start including keyboard docks as part of their basic tablet package.

Dana Wollman contributed to this report.