The Slickest Windows 8 Ultrabook.
The first time I saw the Acer Aspire S7 was at an Intel’s IDF event earlier this year and my MacBook Air was suddenly not looking as good as this ultra-slim laptop with faster specs and a gorgeous full-HD touchscreen display. It was definitely one of the most attention-grabbing laptops on a wall full of Windows 8 laptops and I knew that if I was to purchase a Windows 8 laptop, it would be the Acer Aspire S7. Score.
Packaged in a nice big white box, the Acer Aspire S7 come neatly bundled with quite a few accessories such as a carrying case, dongles for Ethernet and DSUB, a wireless mouse and the usual suspects like the power charger and quick-start guides. The following unboxing video we did for the Aspire S7 shows you all of these things.
The Acer S7 is stunning as far as design is concerned. Made up of Aluminum and Gorilla Glass, the S7 is very well constructed with no parts that flex. Measuring just 12.73″ x 8.79″ x 0.47″ and weighing 1.29kg, it also incredibly thin and light. This makes the Aspire S7 thinner and lighter than the 13” MacBook Air that is used as an industry standard which weighs 1.35kg and is 0.68″ in height.
On the left you have the power connector along with a 3.5mm jack that does audio output as well as input, a mini HDMI port and a power switch while the right side features two USB 3.0 ports and an SD card reader. Acer does well to bundle dongles for Ethernet and DSUB as they are still required at times and putting them on the S7 would have unnecessarily increased the height.
About the only complain I have with the design on the Aspire S7 is that it is not too easy to lift the lid and requires using two hands most of the time. Acer has added a nudged piece of metal to lift the screen but unless you have sharp, strong nails, you’ll be hard pressed to easily open the device.
You would think that an Ultrabook with the size of the Aspire S7 would be a bit low on specs but that is not the case with the Aspire S7. It comes with the latest Intel Core i5 or i7 processors and a super speedy SSD drives. The only area I felt a bit concerned about was RAM which is neither upgradeable when ordering, nor user replaceable and 4GB barely cuts it nowadays. However, after using the unit for a few days, and this is probably due to the very fast SSD, I was never left waiting much for apps to load. Though that’s not to say that an 8GB option wouldn’t be welcomed.
The following table outlines the specs of my unit.
||12.73″ x 8.79″ x 0.47″
||Intel Core i7-3517U 1.9GHz
||Intel HD 4000
||13.3″ IPS Panel with capitative touch
||802.11b/g/n + Bluetooth 4.0
||USB 3.0 x 2, Micro HDMI, Audio, SD Card
||4-cell lithium polymer battery (4680mAh)
|Claimed Battery Life
Benchmark and Performance
||Acer Aspire S7
|3DMark 11 (P)
|PC Mark 7
As you can see from the benchmarks table above, the Acer Aspire S7 performs quite well besting the recently reviewed Lenovo Yoga in all tests.
Screen and Audio
The Aspire S7 has a gorgeous 13.3” capacitive touch screen with a full-HD 1920×1080 resolution and is based on an IPS panel. To say that its impressive is putting it mildly- it’s absolutely stunning with viewing angles that are better than almost all laptops that I’ve tested of late. The only other laptop screens that look this great are the ones on the Retina MacBook Pro and the ASUS Zenbook Prime UX31A- neither of which has touch capabilities. The screen on the Aspire S7 can also fold down 180 degrees and while I’m not sure how useful that is, you do have the capability. The touch functionality on the touch screen works beautifully and I was able to easily scroll with inertia and move around the Modern UI of windows 8
Keyboard and Trackpad
My primary laptop is the MacBook Pro and in the years that I’ve been testing Windows based laptops, I have yet to find out where the trackpad works as well as the Mac. Sadly, the Acer Aspire S7 doesn’t change that and if I was to point out the weakest link in this ultrabook- the trackpad would be it. Acer uses an Elan trackpad which, from what I’ve heard, is supposed to be a good option but it is connected internally using a PS2 port instead of USB which could be the issue. Scrolling sucks and many a times, the trackpad would have a hard time distinguishing between one or two fingers and would thus act incorrectly.
The keyboard, while not the best that I’ve used, is one that you could get used to. There is no row for F keys which I find a bit strange on a 13” laptop- there certainly is plenty of room above the keyboard that Acer could have used to accommodate an extra row. What this means is that you don’t have options for media playback on the keyboard- such as skipping or pausing tracks. What is good is that the laptop has a backlight and a pretty good looking one. Here is what it looks like
Heat and Noise levels
I was expecting the Acer Aspire S7 to get pretty hot considering the high-powered CPU present onboard, however Acer certainly surprised me with the temperature levels that touched a bit on the warmer side but nothing like my MacBook Pro. From what I know the area around the keyboard works like a giant heatsink- much like the MacBooks do.
While the heat aspect is good, the fan spoils things. Acer uses a high pitched fan that turns on pretty much any time you stress the machine and it gets annoying real fast. So any time you’re trying to play a game or even use Photoshop, expect the fan to kick in. Even installing apps made the fan turn on most of the time. Luckiliy watching hi-def videos doesn’t cause this issue as that would have been really annoying. Still, at a time when we’re turning to our noise-less tablets for many things that we did on a lapotop, noise levels like the ones found on the Aspire S7 don’t help in making us stick to our laptops.
Acer states a battery life of six hours for the Aspire S7 which, like most laptop manufacturers, is a bit on the higher side. I’ve been using the laptop for about two weeks now and generally speaking, I get around four-five hours out of it which is not necessarily great but not too bad either. My activities mostly include web browsing with some music playing in the background and a little bit of image editing. Depending on how you use your computer, your mileage will vary.
I remember reading Acer’s CEO showing some disappointment when Microsoft reveal their Surface tablet. However, if Acer is capable of building a laptop as beautiful and powerful as the Aspire S7 then there really isn’t much for them to worry about. Aside from the trackpad and the fan noise, the Aspire S7 is the finest Windows 8 based laptop that I have used. The screen is just phenomenally good while the Core i7 and the dual SSDs in RAID0 configuration make the S7 insanely fast to work on.
Priced at roughly AED 6500, the Aspire S7 should be on the top of your list if you are looking into getting a Windows Phone 8 based laptop. It is also available in 11” form factor and looks equally impressive.