Acer is headquartered in Taiwan. The company, which makes advanced electronics hardware, is multinational. They make everything from tablets to smartphones to to servers. They’re the world’s 6th largest sellers of personal computers. Acer started off with the name Multitech in 1976, founded by Stan Shih and his wife Carolyn Yeh. In 1986, it was renamed Acer. Acer has several operations centers around the world. In the U.S., it’s Acer America, located in Silicon Valley’s San Jose. Its Aspire series included several 2-in-1s.
New Lenovo, Acer art tablet offerings for Fall 2016
Create on the Lenovo Miix 510 in your private art studio
Active pens are becoming pretty much de rigueur these days, since the technology has become less expensive, and hey, it’s a nice option for everyone. This Fall 2016, Lenovo and Acer showcased several new art tablets at Berlin’s IFA tech show.
These have pens (sometimes included, sometimes not), pressure sensitivity, palm rejection, and draw-on screens. These offerings are all draw-on-screen with those features; the Lenovo Yoga Book is covered in this post and lets you draw on a non-screen tablet.
Acer unveiled its Spin line of 2-in-1s at the show. The spotlight is on the lightweight 14″ Spin 7 convertible notebook, but as the Spin 7 lacks drawing features such as support for an active pen, artists will be more interested in its siblings, the 13.3″ Spin 5 and the Spin 1, which comes in 11.6 and 13.3″ options.
Both the Spin 5 and the Spin 1 will feature support for the Acer Active Pen, which will be sold separately. The Acer Active Pen supports Windows Ink. All run Windows 10. The Acer Active Pen Stylus, as it has been called in previous Acers, uses a Synaptics digitizer.
The Spins, true to their name, will turn on a dual-torque, 360-degree hinge. They will have a blue light filter to ease eyestrain, and Color Intelligence, which maximizes color saturation.
Acer Spin 5 features
The Spin 5 has up to a 7th-generation Intel processor, a full HD IPS screen, up to 16GB DDR4 memory, and up to 512 SSD storage. Battery life will last up to 10 hours. It will have a textured, fabric-like finish to make it harder to drop.
Acer Spin 1 – affordable and comes in two sizes
Acer calls the Spin 1 ideal for “students or as a second computer,” meaning its performance will be less than speedy. Its two screen sizes are 13″ or 11.6″ HD IPS, and it will carry Intel Celeron or Pentium processors and antimicrobial Gorilla Glass to keep out those classroom germs.
The Spin 1 will also support the optional Acer Active Pen and Windows Ink, and will be very affordable, which is rare in a pressure-sensitive tablet. It could be a decent-sized portable digital sketchbook that won’t break the bank.
Lenovo launched no less than four 2-in-1s at the show. The attention-getter is the Lenovo Yoga Book, but for those who want something where you can draw on the screen with pressure sensitivity, there’s the new Lenovo Miix detachable.
The company is offering a “backlit keyboard or pen with Windows Ink,” so prepare for confusion over specs. There may be an option to purchase a backlit keyboard if you get the model with the pen.
The Miix 510 weighs in at 880 grams (almost two lbs., without the keyboard) has a 12.2″ screen, up to 1TB SSD (now that’s good!) and optional LTE. It will have Core i7, 7.5 hours of battery life, a metallic finish, and a 16:10 aspect ratio, which we prefer over 16:9 because it’s less long and thin. The keyboard and pen will be included. Though they haven’t been specific, Lenovo uses Wacom AES in their other pressure-sensitive tablets.
As for their other 2-in-1s coming out, the new Yoga Book is an art tablet (more like a graphics tablet with separate screen), but the other newly announced devices do not seem to be. However, the company has been known for being unclear about these details from their initial information, so I will monitor the situation, so to speak.
These new art-tablet offerings ensure it’s going to be a bountiful Fall 2016. These babies will be out in September and October.
Acer Aspire R13 Review: one convertible tablet, six modes
by Tablets for Artists
Type of Tablet
Tablet PC Convertible
10 different configurations of this were released, but the two most commonly sold are ones with a Core i5 processor and 8 GB of RAM, and 128 GB SSD, and a Core i7 with Core i7 and 512 GB SSD.
Acer Aspire R7. The newer, 15.6 ” Acer Aspire R7 is similar but uses N-trig. It can also be used with the Acer Active Pen. It’s bigger and heavier. Review to come.
The screen can’t be separated from the keyboard, so this is a true laptop convertible. The “2 in 1” name refers to it being both a regular display and touchscreen. It’s a Swiss Army knife of a tablet, with a U-frame design capable of six different “poses” compared to the Lenovo Yoga’s four.
Windows 8.1 13.3″ 10-pt. multitouch screen Dimensions: 13.4 x 9 x 0.71 in. (344 x 230 x 18 mm) Ports: two USB 3.0; one USB 2.0; HDMI; SD card slot Weight: 3.3 lbs. (1.5 kg) Intel Core i5-5200U Dual-core 2.20 GHz Full HD 1920 x 1080, 220ppi, 13.3″ Compatible with Acer Active pen sold separately ($49) Synaptics digitizer with 256 levels of pressure sensitivity (2560 x 1440 WQHD display 13.3″ on highest-end mode) 16:9 aspect ratio Intel HD 5500 with Shared Memory 8 GB 256 GB SSD Ezel Aero Hinge provides 6 modes can be used with Acer Active Pen Skype-certified for quality voice and video chat
stand mode good for on-screen typing on lap or table
Notebook, Ezel, Stand, Tablet, Tent, Display: the six modes
The stylus is compatible with the Aspire R13 (R7-371T), Aspire Switch 11 & 12 (SW5-111, SW5-171, SW5-271). You can also use the HP active stylus with this computer.
The Aspire stands on two columns, sort of like a freestanding chalkboard. The dual hinges are sturdy, and the screen stands firm, not getting shaky when using the pen. The laptop auto-rotates the content on the screen to match the mode you’re in.
The R13 is a sleek, modern-looking computer with an almost architectural presence. Some might feel like it’s trying too hard to look modern, with its Gorilla Glass-encased lid and jutting metal hinge. When the lid is shut, the hinge surrounds it on the sides and protrudes out a little, making it take up more space on the desk than its screen size would suggest.
The touchscreen is fast and responsive to touch and pen input when doing clicking, swiping, and gestures. The computer, with its dual SSDs, is also fast.
The six poses/modes are: Ezel, Notebook, Stand, Tablet (r Pad), Tent, and Display. These are more versatile than the four positions of the Lenovo Yogas. Ezel mode is useful because you can pull the screen closer to you and still access the keyboard. This solves one of the more annoying problems for artists using a 2-in-1 with a swiveling screen, or a Lenovo Yoga where the keyboard locks when folded back. In both these cases, the keyboard is difficult to access, making it more efficient to use an external keyboard. If Acer continues with this line and irons out the bumps, this design would be ideal for artists. Stand mode is good for typing, drawing, or editing art; the screen holds steady. You can adjust it to positions in-between these too.
Drawing in Stand mode
At 3.3 lbs. (about 1.5 kg), it’s pretty portable and light for a convertible but still heavy to carry around for long periods. It’s also thin and compact.
The lid is sandwiched between layers of anti-reflective Gorilla Glass, which gives it a nice sheen, but attracts fingerprints. Luckily, it’s easy to clean. The lid is designed to be opened with one finger, but it helps to have small fingers or it might be a bit of a struggle.
The screen shows up fairly well outdoors if the sun is not too bright, and offers good viewing angles. It uses two layers of Corning Gorilla Glass 3, one at the surface and one behind. The two layers of Gorilla Glass cut reflections, protect from scratches, and make the screen easy to clean. The images look crisp. Turning off adaptive brightness may help you get brighter colors. You will have to calibrate the colors to get better color accuracy than it comes with. With the more high-resolution model, Photoshop icons will look smal. You can scale the sizes of icons and fonts using Acer’s calibration tool.
One slight downside of the innovative design is that it takes up as much space on a desktop as a 14″ laptop, since the base is larger than the screen. A 13″ laptop sleeve will be too small to put this laptop in.
Acer Active Pen
The Acer Active Pen works well at the edges and, similar to N-trig, handles parallax well, meaning there is only a small space between the tip and the line on the screen. The Active Pen takes an AAAA battery. Using Acer’s Hover software, you can open a menu that allows you to access apps by hovering the pen. Some have complained about the Active Pen going through batteries quickly, as well as connectivity issues.
You can convert handwriting to text.
Usually we don’t talk about keyboards much, but it seems needed because this is a problem area with the R13. Though I don’t know the reason the computer was discontinued, there were many complaints about the keyboard typing double characters and other problems. One Acer Aspire R13 reviewer reported that when hitting the edges of a key, the key would depress but not register the character typed. Some people got tricky touchpads, as well. Though hard to find in brick-and-mortar stores now, The R13 is still for sale online.
The bluish backlighting of the keyboard prevents glare. The backlighting turns itself on, which is a nice touch.
Stand Mode is the one Acer says is best for drawing. I’m not sure I agree, because in Stand it’s harder to access the keyboard than it is in Ezel. But it is a good mode if you don’t really need the keyboard or can use the on-screen one. I like that in Ezel, In the screen is closer to the eyes. The computer easy to hold in the lap, too. If you’re one of those work-on-the-bed artists, the Tablet pose may be the most efficient.
Drawing on the Acer R13
The line sometimes skips if you draw quickly. Some people had problems with wobbly lines as well as with palm rejection. Even though the Synaptics drivers have improved a lot, and the parallax is good, the R13 still lacks the accuracy of Wacom or N-trig. In short, this is not the worst tablet to draw on, but it’s not the best, either. The R13 is better if art is not the primary use for it, but is fine for sketching, annotating, or taking notes. With handwriting, it also skips a line now and then. The 256 levels of pressure sensitivity vs. Wacom’s far greater amounts is not an issue unless you are using a brush larger than 256 pixels. It is relatively slim and light, and powerful, but if you’re a professional artist, all that doesn’t compensate for the drawbacks. If you are mainly a hobby artist this laptop is OK.
The driver runs on Windows Ink rather than Wintab, so older versions of programs such as Photoshop that use Wintab drivers won’t give pressure sensitivity.
A lot of people do not like the small Caps Lock key and small delete key. Many really like the computer itself with its speed. Reviews of the pen functionality are mixed, with some finding it adequate. One Acer Aspire R13 review written by an artist said that
Six modes Sharp design Good build quality despite being plastic Fast Screen size Small power brick
Potential keyboard and touchpad issues Sometimes skips lines when drawing fast Potential battery issues with pen
If you get one without a wonky keyboard or trackpad, this is a very nice computer. Not as good artwise as Wacom, Wacom ES, or N-trig, though. We hope that Acer will continue developing this design and pen with artists in mind.