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Acer ConceptD 9 hands-on review: Shaking up the laptop formula

Price when reviewed : £4310
(converted from €4,999)

The Acer ConceptD 9 stands out from the crowd with a bombastic moveable screen

It’s not often you see design innovation when it comes to laptops. Sure, we’ve witnessed an influx of laptop-tablet hybrids over the years but, generally, the majority of manufacturers don’t tend to divert too far from the tried and tested clamshell design of the past 30 years.

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Now that Acer’s annual global tech conference in New York has finished, a brand-new range of “creator-focused” devices under the “ConceptD” name has been unveiled, and the top-end ConceptD 9 shakes up the age-old laptop formula.

Acer ConceptD 9 review: Key specifications, price and release date

  • 17.3in 4K (3,840 x 2,160) IPS display
  • Intel ninth-gen Core i9 processor
  • Up to 32GB of RAM
  • Nvidia GeForce RYX 2080 graphics
  • From €4,999 (UK price TBC)
  • June 2019

Acer ConceptD 9 review: Design, key features and first impressions

It’s probably best if we start with the basics before we dig into the unusual. The ConceptD 9 is a very strange-looking device. Despite being categorised as such, it isn’t really a laptop in any sense of the word. That’s because it weighs a good deal more than its rivals, tipping the scales at a not-so-inconsequential 4.1kg. I certainly wouldn’t advise putting this on your lap for any stretch of time, for risk of crushing your legs.

It’s also quite large. This is a 17in device, after all, so even if you could tolerate the weight of the thing, you’d struggle to squeeze it in your backpack. It isn’t the prettiest of beasts either: it’s chunky, the display bezels are thick and the colour scheme is hardly inspirational.

Still, there are plenty of ports to get you going. The ConceptD 9 includes two USB Type-A connectors, a Thunderbolt 3-powered USB Type-C port, HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort and Gigabit Ethernet. It also includes four built-in stereo speakers, although Acer was light on the specifics around these.

There’s also plenty of processing power, including the latest ninth-generation Intel Core i9 processor, up to 16GB of DDR4 RAM – with a spare slot for a further 16GB – and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 graphics. It can also be configured with a choice of 512GB or 1TB of internal NVMe SSD storage.

Let’s get on to the ConceptD 9’s raison d’être: working with design. The IPS screen measures 17.3in across the diagonal, is 4K (3,840 x 2,160) in resolution and, like the ConceptD 5, is capable of reaching a peak luminance of 400 nits. This is an IPS display that caters to creative professionals, says Acer, with a quoted Adobe RGB colour gamut coverage of 100%, an average Delta E of less than one and Pantone accreditation. If all of this is true, the ConceptD 9 should be a solid choice for colour-sensitive duties.

What’s most interesting, though, is that the ConceptD 9’s screen is hinged and can rotate at almost any angle you see fit, just like Microsoft’s Surface Studio desktop PC. The reason for this is that Acer wants the device to be used by artsy types, enabling the laptop’s screen to be flipped or reclined, while also being used as a standard vertical screen. The ConceptD 9 also includes a Wacom EMR stylus that magnetically attaches to the side of the screen, supporting up to 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity – the same as Microsoft’s Surface Pen. 

Acer ConceptD 9 review: Early verdict

The ConceptD 9’s rotating screen might look like a gimmick but, as we’ve seen with the Surface Studio, it could prove to be a very lucrative device for creative professionals. It might not be as portable as most laptops, and I expect this will take permanent residence on desks as a result, but the ConceptD 9 could be a crucial addition to any graphic designer’s arsenal when it launches in June.

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