Acer’s ConceptD range of laptops are all about creatives, and helping make content. Their ConceptD impressed me earlier this year with its big, bright display. As well as the ConceptD, Acer produce an ‘Ezel’ variant, which includes a hinge for the display which lets you put a new spin on the convertible form factor.
Announced in June, the ConceptD 3 Ezel is arriving in Australian stores this January, with the entry level model with 14″ display, 10th Gen Intel Core i7 processor, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650Ti graphics, 16 GB DDR memory and 512GB PCle SSD priced at $3,699.
The obvious feature for the ConceptD Ezel line is the hinged display. With the innovative hinge, the display can be positioned in a number of different orientations to help your workflow.
Acer has loaned us a slightly higher end model for review, and after a couple of weeks, here’s how it went.
Hardware and Design
Like the rest of the ConceptD range, the ConceptD 3 Ezel is hard to miss in the white colour it comes in. Unlike the ConceptD from earlier in the year, the ConceptD3 Ezel doesn’t have the sloped angles of the ConceptD 7, going for a more regular rectangular shape, with crisp lines and sharp angles.
The laptop has a Micro-Arc Oxidation (MAO) surface over the metal surfaces, which Acer says adds ‘ceramic hardness, strength, and corrosion and oxidation resistance’. For anyone who’s concerned about the colour, Acer says the laptop is covered with a stain resistant coating which they say will ‘protect the laptop from yellowing, and marking by materials such as dirt, markers, and coffee’.
In the flesh, the coating adds a premium feel to the laptop’s surface which is generally cool to the touch, even after you’ve been using the laptop for a while. It’s hard to tell long term just how the coating of the laptop will handle all of lifes little accidents, but it feels good and after a series of black laptops, the white is growing on me.
The very obvious design flair for the ConceptD 3 Ezel is that rotating hinged display. There’s not a lot hiding the hinge on the lid of the laptop, but even if it’s not quite your cup of tea visually, the utility is excellent.
The hinge allows you to move the display into a huge number of positions, making using the touch display a more pleasant experience. Using the touchscreen is very much where the ConceptD Ezel series is aimed, and the touch panel is responsive, and also covered with a matte finish which aids in reducing glare.
The hinge moves easily when you apply pressure, with magnets holding the display in place once snapped back to the familiar laptop clamshell form factor. What I really loved was the tablet mode, which lets you fold the screen back over the keyboard. This is a better form factor for holding it than most other convertibles, with no keyboard on the back.
The hinge adds a unique touch to the Acer ConceptD 3 Ezel. We’re all individuals and the hinge allows you to position the screen just how you want it. It adds a bit of freedom from the familiar laptop and convertible form factors which is a pleasant change.
Aesthetically, the hinge is fairly obtrusive, so if you’re after an all over sleek look for your laptop the ConceptD 3 Ezel may be triggering. The hinge itself is very useful, but it is sitting out there for all to see when in the clamshell form factor.
The actual panel itself is gorgeous. It’s a Pantone validated FullHD resolution IPS LCD display with ‘sRGB 100% color gamut and color accuracy of Delta E <2’, all of which means that you get accurate colour representation.
From a personal perspective, the size is amazing – and the colours look grea. I sometimes find the matte finish on a display can affect the brightness, look and feel, but in this case Acer has done an excellent job.
There’s minimal bezels at the side, but the top and bottom bezels are fairly significant. The top does house the webcam which is not IR enabled, nor does it support Windows Hello for easy login. You do get a fingerprint sensor in the power button on the side of the laptop (but not in the power button on the keyboard), and it’s accurate and fast.
As far as the internals go, Acer offers a range of various specs based on 10th gen Intel CPUs. While the 11th Gen Intel CPUs are starting to arrive in laptops, Acer has stuck with the 10th gen, and to be fair it’s no slouch.
Depending on how much you spend, the ConceptD 3 Ezel is specced well for creators using applications like Photoshop, Premiere and other resource intensive apps.
A good bump to the performance stakes is the included Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650TI graphics card. It’s not the top end of the gaming range these days, but it’s a powerhouse when compared to the Intel Iris embedded graphics normally found in laptops.
Though it’s not aimed at gamers, I got the best performance out of games like Fortnite and Tomb Raider than I’ve gotten to date out of any other laptop – all thanks to the Nvidia GeForce GTX graphics. It’s not going to handle CyberPunk 2077 or Crysis in ultra mode, but it certainly handled some older games at that level.
As a larger form factor laptop the ConceptD 3 Ezel includes a plethora of full-sized ports: two USB-A ports on the right with an SD card reader and RJ45 ethernet jack, and a Thunderbolt 3 USB Type-C port, Display Port, full-sized HDMI out and 3.5mm combo jack on the left.
Unfortunately you can’t charge the ConceptD 3 Ezel with a USB-C cable, instead the laptop requires a barrel style charger, so make sure you take that into account.
Of course that leads to the big question for any portable device: How’s the battery life? The answer is: Really Good. Acer claim 18 hours of battery life, and while I didn’t get 18, I did get close.
You will comfortably get a full business day of use out of the battery, even under a fairly hefty load, with plenty left to start your next day off as well.
The ConceptD 3 Ezel uses a full-sized keyboard. The Keyboard includes 3 additional creation-focused hotkeys, which let you quickly access the snipping tool, swap between applications and also sample colours.
As a keyboard it’s very comfortable to type on, it’s also relatively quiet thanks to the scissor switch under each key letting you get a decent amount of, but not too much travel.
The soft orange backlight under the keyboard illuminates the keys when the lights go down. I’ve previously said how much I like the orange backlight, which is gentler on the eyes when transitioning from day to night and back and that remains unchanged. It’s a good decision, though some people will find the orange light makes it harder to read the keys.
As well as the keyboard, Acer has also done a very good job on their trackpad. We’re very much past the days of cheap, plastic track pads and Acer has gone all out with theirs on the ConceptD 3 Ezel using Corning Gorilla Glass.
The touchpad is fast, accurate and feels nice to use. The trackpad itself has been increased in size over previous years models, giving you plenty of space for your fingers to travel. There’s support for multi-touch, so you can switch tabs with 3-finger gestures etc. and the size makes it very easy to navigate around.
You can of course plug in a mouse and keyboard or use a wireless one, but on the go the internal keyboard and trackpad are fairly impressive.
On the subject of input medium, Acer has also nestled an ‘Acer Active Stylus’ inside the body of the laptop. Having the stylus docked inside the body means it’s less likely you’ll use it, and it also charges inside the laptop – with 15 seconds giving you 90 minutes use time – and as it’s on-hand all the time I was continually using it.
The Active Stylus is very accurate with 4,096 pressure levels, which really lets you lean in on your sketching in applications like Autodesk SketchBook. There’s two buttons on the stylus, one of which acts as a right mouse click, while the other defaults to the erase function in applications like Paint.
The Stylus is a little finicky when returning it to its home in the base, but a quick swivel around should see you right.
There’s a copy of Windows 10 Pro aboard our review unit, and of course you get access to all the security updates direct from Microsoft.
Acer has included a bit of ‘bloatware’ on the laptop, with applications like Groove Music, and of course trial software for Microsoft Office and more. You also get a copy of Norton Security with a brief trial, though you can renew the license for $49 a year.
Of course over the years we’ve all mostly become au fait with uninstalling all the bloatware from a PC, but there are some useful tools like the DTS:X Equaliser software which can tune your audio experience a little better. It’s not a massive difference, but it’s worth investigating.
Acer has also attempted to minimise pre-installed software by giving you the Acer Collection S software which simply links to a number of suggested apps rather than pre-install them.
Should you buy it?
The Acer ConceptD Ezel is an awesomely functional laptop with power in spades. The addition of the hinged display makes it just that little bit more awesome.
It is a fairly expensive option though, with the price starting at $3,699, and going up from there with Intel Quadro graphics, or more storage space.
That said, when you need the power to create on the move, then that price tag is worth it. Acer have designed a versatile platform for creators in the ConceptD series, and the Ezel hinge emphasises that for creators who often utilise on-screen controls – including Premiere – which are ideally suited to the Ezel hinged display, and there’s not many laptops specifically aiming at this market.
For those who want a lot of power, the ConceptD 3 Ezel is definitely worth looking at. You’ll be able to get hands on with the ConceptD 3 Ezel in Harvey Norman stores from January.