While the logical Industrial Engineer in me insists that form must follow function the remainder of my person has fallen for the new Acer Aspire Convertible laptop. On paper (or on computer screen) it made no sense to me. Specifically the bit where the rather generously sized touchpad lives behind keyboard instead of in front where it has been since the very beginning of laptops. “Why would I want to reach over the keyboard to use a touchpad?” I pondered. Before utterly dismissing the concept, since I was curious to see why distant engineers would deem this to be a viable alternative or even superior set up, I went to visit one at one of my favorite hangouts… Best Buy. Best Buy, where they know my co-worker and I by name, It almost feels like the Cheers theme should queue up as we enter. Best Buy , where I occasionally buy things I can sometimes find cheaper online to do my small part to keep the lights on and the doors open there. Where else would I go to lay hands on things read about online like the Acer Aspire Convertible for instance? Ahem. Back to my point…
After 5 seconds of seeing this device in the metal at Best Buy I went from “Why?” to “Why on earth has no one else ever thought of this?” The touchpad location in isolation still does not make any sense admittedly, but combined with the hinge of many things and a touchscreen it brushes up against genius in my humble opinion. So much so that it knocks my former favorite convertible laptop, the Lenovo Yoga, off of the pinnacle of my mobile computing wish list. This process of laptop selection is vital since I am a man with a mortgage and 3 kids to feed so purchases are few and far between and I do not like harboring regrets caused by lack of research. I still think the Yoga is slick, but the nut no one seemed able to crack was how to make the full size screen simultaneous keyboard and touchscreen experience a smooth, if not an outright elegant, experience due to (warning: 1st world problem ahead) the relative distance between keyboard and screen. An odd side effect of purchasing a Surface RT some time ago (Yes, I am the one. I like the type keyboard/cover, kickstand, on board adapter-less microSD/USB/miniHDMI and Word/Excel for free… Different strokes for different folks. Anyhoo.) is that non-touchscreen laptops are now dead to me. If I had a dime for every time I have poked at my Sony VAIO laptop (of which I am otherwise quite happy with) screen in vain since purchasing the RT I would have quite a bit of lunch money. Why not the Surface Pro you did not ask, so I ask for you? A 10 point something inch screen tablet with a magnetized flexi keyboard/cover makes sense to me, but a 10 point something inch screen magnetized flexi keyboard/cover laptop with a size to weight density like depleted uranium does not. Especially a 10 point something inch touch screen anything that costs like an adult sized laptop. RT si, Pro no. See gallery for images of it’s many configurations, but here are my points of note:
- Screen pulled forward: This is my favorite configuration as it is the one I would use most often. In trial the short distance afforded by putting the touch screen behind the keyboard could be fully appreciated and made the reach between keyboard and touchscreen immediately natural in operation.
- Presentation mode (Screen flipped 180 degrees away from keyboard): Very pleasing due to the generous size of the screen and the swift flipping of the on screen display.
- Table top mode: Folds down with a slight elevation which actually aids in viewing.
- Tablet mode: Not for those of frail constitution. Weighs like a Buick. Get your tablet.
- Laptop mode (open and closed): Indistinguishable from any standard issue laptop other than the relocation of the touchpad.
- The mighty hinge: In picture one would think the hinge might be a weak point, but it is very sturdy in it’s execution and has a quality feel that should easily last for the duration of the laptop.
If you are looking for an in depth system review this is not the place since it will likely be some time before I actually purchase one. My in house laptop refresh schedule lags behind things like shin guards, soccer cleats and socks, soccer balls, softball mitts, lunch prepay, etc in priority so there is no telling when this will be green-lighted. That being said any modern machine of any OS that meets my ever increasing minimum hardware standards from any number of reputable computer makers would also meet my needs so I am not that concerned. Specific matters of brand or OS do not faze me. But a solid build quality along with an innovative and interesting feature set will impress me and Acer has succeeded commendably on all counts.