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.
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
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
6.5 to 7.5 hours, depending on tasks
What’s in the Box
What’s NOT in the Box
The Active Stylus is sold separately.
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.
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
Good build quality despite being plastic
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.
Read more info and reviews about the Acer Aspire R13.
Read more info and reviews about the Acer Aspire R7.
Also check out these other convertible laptops:
end of Acer Aspire R13 review