The Acer Aspire R11 sounds like a steal for a Windows notebook. At $599, it approaches netbook levels of affordability.
It is not the cheapest laptop you can find. The HP Stream is more affordable though, unlike it, the Acer has a trick up its sleeves.
Like many new PCs, the R11 is more accurately a hybrid. It can switch between laptop and tablet modes, and also two other usage modes, display and tent.
Lenovo started this trend with its Yoga hybrids and the R11 follows this formula. Its hinge lets it rotate 360 degrees.
Flip the screen till it meets the bottom of the laptop and the R11 becomes a tablet.
PROCESSOR: Intel Pentium N3700 (1.6GHz)
GRAPHICS: Intel HD Graphics
SCREEN SIZE: 11.6 inches, 1,366 x 768 pixels
CONNECTIVITY: 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, HDMI, Ethernet port, SD card reader, audio jack
BATTERY: 48 watt-hour
FEATURES 1 2 3 4 5
DESIGN 1 2 3 4 5
PERFORMANCE 1 2 3 4 5
VALUE FOR MONEY 1 2 3 4 5
BATTERY LIFE: 1 2 3 4 5
OVERALL 1 2 3 4 5
As a slate, this 11.6-inch device leaves much to be desired. It is relatively heavy at 1.5kg. It is also much thicker than a pure tablet.
The touchscreen works fine but the display does not use in-plane switching technology.
Hence, viewing angles are poor, with significant colour shift when the screen is not viewed straight on. The screen resolution is a mediocre 1,366 x 768 pixels. It sounds less than impressive but, considering its price, these features are to be expected.
On the bright side, the R11's plastic chassis feels sturdy. The inside of the laptop is black while the lid and the base have a textured finish that is easy to grip.
The keyboard is not as shallow as some ultrabooks, but it has no backlight.
The touchpad is pleasantly spacious, which is good for multi-touch gestures. Two-finger scrolling and pinch-to-zoom work smoothly enough.
Acer has put the SD card reader at the back of the R11, which is puzzling, since it makes it inconvenient to copy files from an SD card.
But if you twist the screen till it is in display mode - the screen is in front of you and the keyboard becomes the bottom of the device - then the SD card slot is now in front. It makes sense only if you are viewing photos on an SD card from a digital camera.
Powering the R11 is an Intel Pentium chip. It ekes out a paltry 1,632 in PCMark 7, compared with the 4,000 to 5,000 that you get on an Intel Core i7 laptop.
A 500GB hard drive contributes to the sluggish feel. It may take longer to start an app, but it runs fine after that.
I am not a fan of Acer's proprietary apps, which mostly duplicate such basic features as a photo gallery and media player.
Acer offers 15GB free cloud storage on Dropbox, but only for three months.
Finally, the R11 has excellent stamina and lasted just over eight hours in our video-loop test.
• This budget convertible is suitable for those with modest requirements and expectations.