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Acer Aspire R7 Redefines Touch Laptops with Floating Display

The Acer Aspire R7 is anything but your typical Windows 8 slider. The unique design includes an ezel hinge that lets you position the 15.6-inch display in notebook mode, tablet mode or flipped around to show others content. You can even float the display above the keyboard,which is ideal for pen input (although that's optional). The R7 will be available May 17th in the U.S. at Best Buy for $999.

We spent a few minutes with the R7 at Acer's NYC launch event and came away intrigued by its potential, but its best to think of this hybird as a notebook first.

MORE: Top 8 Windows Tablet-Laptop Hybrids

In a first for Windows 8 sliders, the touchpad is located above the keyboard. So, when you're ready to type, the layout is much closer to your wrists. This sort of design feels awkward at first, especially since there isn't a palm rest. On the plus side, the keyboard offers plenty of travel and a firm click.

Given the versatility of the hinge, the 5.3-pound weight of the R7 is reasonable but still heavy for tablet use. The design felt a little awkward in our hands, so you'll be definitely be using the R7 in your lap. 

Acer says the R7 will also offer "unmatched audiovisual power" with auto reverse audio channels and dual array microphones. Expect a Core i5 processor, 6GB of memory, a 500GB hard drive and a 24GB SSD. The design includes three USB ports, an SD Card reader, HDMI port and volume control buttons when in tablet mode. 

Here's a closer look at each of the modes: Ezel mode lets you float the display above the keyboard or put the screen in front of it. In notebook mode you'll be able to use the backlit keyboard, and in Display Mode you can show content to others or give a presentation. Acer says that it has worked especially hard on the rigidity so that the screen doesn't wobble when touched.

Last but not least is Pad mode, where you lay the display on top of the keyboard. There's a 4-degree titling angle that Acer says is ideal for browsing the web, pen input, etc.

To help sweeten the deal for the R7, Acer has announced a special promotional tie-in with Star Trek Into Darkness. Those who place orders for the hybrid between May 3rd and May 16th will receive a free download of Star Trek: The Video Game.

Is the R7 worth a grand? We'd like to play more with the bundled software and see how long this device lasts on a charge, but it's certainly a head-turning design. The real question is whether consumers want a hybrid this size and how much they're willing to pay for it.

Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.