Acer has announced a new laptop at a press event in New York which features a new hinge system called "Ezel" that brings the display closer to the user for easier Windows 8 touch control. The new Aspire R7 also features a keyboard/trackpad layout redesign, and a speaker setup that automatically swaps left and right output when the screen is flipped over for displaying content to the person opposite.
It's clear Microsoft is not wavering on the touch screen interface in Windows 8, and the Aspire R7 is embracing the design philosophy to the fullest. The Ezel hinge allows the laptop to be used in four key positions. As you might expect, there is the default laptop position, where the screen sits all the way back, but it gets more interesting from there.
The hinge allows the user to pull the screen forward, so it sits directly behind a repositioned keyboard (more on this later). This is designed for using the touch screen as the main input device, and the backlit keyboard for typing.
From there, the screen can go flat, which makes the laptop feel more like a tablet. Obviously, in this position, the keyboard will be completely covered, so only certain kinds of apps will use the laptop in this way.
The last position involves flipping the screen over, so the laptop can used as a display. This would be useful for presentations, or for simply showing someone else what is on the display. Interestingly, the left/right speaker output is automatically reversed so that the person viewing screen content also hears the audio correctly.
A big change to the laptop, and one that might take a while to get used to, is the positioning of the trackpad. Instead of being in front of the keyboard, as is the case with almost every other laptop, it's actually behind the keys. This allows the screen to move forward to rest right next to the keyboard. With so much of Windows 8 functionality reliant on the touchscreen, this design makes sense, but it will definitely be a transition period for owners of the laptop.
Aside from the interesting hinge, Acer also revealed that the laptop will come with a 15.6-inch 1080p display, a 500 GB hard drive and 24 GB SSD, an Intel Core i5 processor, and 6 GB of RAM. For ports, it will come with HDMI, an SD reader, three USB ports, and a conversion port for VGA, RJ45 and USB. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi complete the connectivity options.
The Aspire R7 has been given a suggested retail price of US$999.99, and will be available from May 17 from Best Buy. Additional models are expected to be announced shortly.
The video below from Acer shows the Aspire R7 in all its different positions.