THE LATEST LAPTOP launch from Acer, the ConceptD 7 Ezel, is a real eye-catcher, a striking and innovative product that’s been designed from the ground up to appeal to creative professionals, among them professional photographers and videographers. The result is an undeniably bold, targeted design, which comes with lashings of power, but you will pay a hefty premium for such a dedicated piece of innovation: the retail price is approaching £3000. I wanted to take a closer look to discover if an investment on that scale could prove to be money well spent.

The Ezel’s most striking feature is its display. It doesn’t just have one hinge at the bottom – it has another halfway up the rear. This innovative set-up allows the display to be moved into a huge variety of positions: it can be tilted forwards to float away from the body of the laptop, rotated to a horizontal position for use as a tablet or as a collaborative device, and it can also be flipped around to face outwards if you’re looking to use it for presentations.

The 15.6in touchscreen uses Wacom EMR technology – the same active digitiser kit used in professional graphics and design devices, which is said to deliver top-notch precision, no input delays and better differentiation between pen and finger touches. To make the most of this, a dedicated pen with 4096 sensitivity levels and two buttons is stowed in the screen. EMR technology is touted as delivering top-notch precision and, on test, it worked fluidly and flawlessly – there’s no doubting that this technology is precise and versatile, and creatives will love the many and varied options that it will open up to them.

The 4K resolution and generous screen diagonal of the laptop means that images are incredibly crisp, and the density level of 282ppi is high enough to deliver loads of detail. Meanwhile the maximum brightness level of 426cd/m2 is ample for any indoor and most outdoor scenarios, while the black point of 0.28cd/m2 is impressively low without being overwhelming. The resulting contrast ratio of 1521:1 is fantastic for an IPS display, and it delivers superb vibrancy, punch, depth and nuance.

The colour temperature of 6655K is excellent, the Gamma of 2.23 is just as

good and the display rendered 99.9% and 97.9% of the sRGB and Adobe RGB colour spaces. The average Delta E hovers just below 2, which is good enough for colour-sensitive workloads. The display is Pantone-certified, and it’s protected with Corning Gorilla Glass 6. The only issue was the slightly mottled coating, but it’s not especially noticeable.

The Acer is made from metal but, unusually, it’s finished in a white shade that’s striking, but could prove divisive. And, while the exterior design does have plenty of practical touches, it’s divisive elsewhere too.

On the positive side there is loads of connectivity on board. The Ezel has two full-size USB ports and a Type-C connection that supports DisplayPort and Thunderbolt, and there’s also an SD card slot plus HDMI and DisplayPort outputs. Internally, there’s Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0 and Gigabit Ethernet. Build quality is impressive: the base is robust, and the hinges are smooth and easy to move. The power button also doubles as a fingerprint reader, which is a nice touch.

Less impressive is the fact that the ports and the power socket are installed towards the front of the machine, which means wires could get in the way. This machine isn’t the slimmest or lightest, either – its 2.5kg weight and 29mm thickness make it something of a heavyweight in fact. And while the Acer does have a webcam, it doesn’t support Windows Hello.

Keyboard and Trackpad

The keyboard and trackpad are fine in use, if unremarkable. The former has a conventional layout, with extra function keys but no numberpad, and quality levels are decent. I found it a little too soft to the touch, but it’s good enough for most tasks. Meanwhile, the trackpad is serviceable,  but it could be larger.

Internally, the eight-core Intel Core i7-10875H processor sits alongside an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q graphics card, while there’s also 16GB of dual-channel memory and a fast 1TB Samsung SSD.

In Geekbench 5’s single and multi-core tests the Acer scored 1,321 and 7,728 points, and both results are right at the top end of what the Core i7-10875H can achieve. Similarly, the Acer’s Cinebench R20 result of 4,006 is impressive, and the RTX 2070 Max-Q graphics core scored a rapid 6,389 in 3D Mark Time Spy. There’s easily enough power to handle Photoshop, and the CPU and GPU have enough about them to enable professional design work and video editing suites as well.

Running Warm

It’s not all good news. The processor should be able to achieve an all-core Turbo speed of 4.3GHz, but tough benchmarking saw it hit a temperature of 95°C and throttle to 3GHz. Noise levels remained moderate, but the laptop’s body also became warm and hot air was being expelled from both sides, which could prove irritating. The throttling does restrict performance in certain situations, but that’s not unusual for high-end laptops and there’s still enough computing ability here for creative work.

Acer’s machine delivered surprisingly decent battery life. In a work test with the screen at peak brightness it lasted for two hours and 39 minutes, and you’ll double that if you drop the screen brightness. Overall you’ll get around three hours from this machine during more demanding creative applications, and it will last for six hours with more conventional use. It won’t handle a whole day away from the mains, but it’ll last until lunchtime, and it’ll handle a commute and a stint at a café.

If all this hardware isn’t enough, Acer also sells a model with RTX 2080 Super graphics and 32GB of memory. And if you need ISV certification, there’s also a version available with Nvidia Quadro RTX 3000 graphics. The model we’ve reviewed here, which doesn’t come with these particular modifications, costs £2899, while the extra add ons will take you comfortably above £3000.

It has to be said that this is a considerable outlay, especially when compared to rivals that don’t feature the moving, Wacom powered touchscreen. You can buy a 16in MacBook Pro for £2399-£2,799, for example, while a Dell XPS 15 with a weaker graphics core but a slimmer, sleeker design and a 4K display will cost less than £2000. Meanwhile, if all you’re after is pure power you’ll be able to find laptops with faster components for between £2000 and £2500.

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