Just like a Microsoft Surface Studio desktop, if you plan to buy the Acer Predator Triton 900, do it for the display; otherwise, it’s just a pricey-but-fast 17-inch gaming laptop with a ton of competitors. But that multiangle 4K touchscreen may compensate for its handful of flaws, a list topped by a seriously annoying keyboard and an unusually short battery life. It does for me, even as I type this, cursing every time I hit PgUp instead of the too-small right shift key adjacent to it.
It’s quite expensive at $3,800, though that’s not out of line given the components. A roughly similar configuration of the Alienware Area-51m goes for about $3,900 but with a lower-resolution, higher refresh-rate screen. The leaner Razer Blade Pro’s top configuration costs $3,200, but uses a lower-power Max-Q of the RTX 2080 rather than the Triton’s a high-test overclockable version, and has less memory and storage as well.
But don’t call this a laptop. Though lighter than the Alienware, it still weighs over 9 pounds — not counting the 2.8 lb. (1.3kg) power brick which you’ll have to schlep, too. Consider it more of a a minimonster gaming rig.
Better than a two-in-one
The Triton 900 has been referred to as a “convertible,” a synonym for two-in-ones like the prototypical Lenovo Yoga series, with screens that rotate 360 degrees so that you can use them in four different positions. But the Triton 900’s screen is far more sensible — the display can rotate up to 90 degrees while the arms holding it can go from (more or less) flat to vertical — is a lot more flexible and useful.
Unlike a two-in-one or convertible, it doesn’t have a tent mode, but you can put it in any other similar position. Plus, it’s a touchscreen, which you rarely see on gaming laptops. Because you can position the screen almost over the keyboard, the touchscreen can actually be positioned for maximum comfort. With an external keyboard, kiosk mode (when the keyboard is behind the screen rather than in front) is great, though the power connection and other cables sticking out the back may get annoying.
Working where there’s overhead lighting or sunlight through a window? Just tilt it a hair. Unlike a normal laptop screen, you can change the tilt while maintaining the angle, making it perfect for both intense, lean-forward keyboard and mouse gaming or more relaxing lean-back-with-a-controller fun. Flip it over with a second monitor connected and mirror for an audience.
You can pull it down into tablet mode like a Surface Studio’s display, but if you want pen support or color accuracy, you’ll have to move up to the company’s “creator” variation, the Concept D 9. That is, when it’s available. It was supposed to ship in June but has yet to appear.
The IPS panel in the Triton 900 does cover 100% Adobe RGB, but it’s not factory calibrated and it doesn’t get terribly bright, peaking at about 340 nits. Games look OK, but nothing special — for instance, the high-contrast scenes of Sinking City and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice looked relatively flat and low contrast — and our evaluation unit showed a little backlight bleed in the corner.
And for gaming, there’s the 4K consideration. The system’s powerful enough for top-quality 1080p gaming and probably decent 1440p depending upon the game, but the games it can run well in 4K don’t usually benefit from the higher resolution, and you’re held back by the fixed 60Hz refresh rate.
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