One of the best new Ultrabook™ models we’ve seen, the Acer Aspire S7, may be one of the products that could save Microsoft’s latest operating system, Windows 8. While Windows 8 received mixed reviews the fact remains that the best way to experience the OS is with a machine that was designed to take advantage of everything the OS has to offer.
Designed for Windows 8, the Acer Aspire S7 boasts a touchscreen and is sheathed in a super thin and sleek aluminum unibody chassis. Replete with a shockingly thin display, the 13.3-inch Acer Aspire S7 also benefits from tough, durable Gorilla 2 on the back.
Priced around $1,399, the Acer Aspire S7 is one of the more expensive Windows 8 Ultrabooks that we expect to see in the coming weeks. Thankfully, most things about this laptop speak to its premium price point: The impressive 13.3-inch display rocks a full HD 10-point touch display. One of thinnest Ultrabooks out there, this baby is a scant 11.9mm thick and weighs only 2.9lbs (not including the relatively small power brick).
The Acer Aspire S7 ships with a small Bluetooth-enabled mouse that is designed for road warriors but in our tests we found it to be pretty flimsy. Of course, this is anything but a deal breaker as the world is awash with aftermarket mice.
Being a relatively small laptop the keyboard is also pretty small and the keys are pretty shallow. I found myself making mistakes quite a bit, but that’s too be expected with a Ultrabook.
The interesting thing with a device like this is exactly how you’ll interact with it. Less hardcore Windows types will probably be content to live in the Tiles (formerly Metro) interface while more hardcore Windows users will spend the lion’s share of their computing time in desktop mode. The interesting thing about this is that even in desktop mode you’ll find yourself using a combination of the keyboard, touchpad, mouse and touchscreen throughout your day.
Considering the Acer’s relatively steep price (when compared to many other ulrabooks) it comes as no surprise that the Aspire S7 is rocking some decent hardware beneath the hood. This machine’s implementation of Windows 8 64-bit ran smoothly thanks to the included Intel Core i7-3517U processor running at 2.40GHz. The 13.3-inch Multi-touch FHD Acer CineCrystal LCD (1,920×1,080-pixel resolution) provided a great touchscreen experience that in many ways bested the Lenovo Yoga that we already reviewed.
In our tests the 4GB of DDR memory made this a relatively fast Ultrabook and we experienced nary a hiccup. The Intel HD Graphics 4000 were good for simple video playback via services like Netflix and Hulu+ and while our benchmarks (see below) were good (for an Ultrabook) I wouldn’t expect to use this as a primary gaming machine or to do any hardcore video editing.
- OS: Windows 8 64-bit
- Processor: Intel Core i7-3517U
- Display: 13.3-inch Multi-touch FHD Acer CineCrystal LCD
- Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4000
- RAM: 4GB DDR Memory
- Storage: 256GB SSD
- Weight: 2.9lbs (without the power brick)
When it comes to ports, seeing that the Acer Aspire S7 is so thin, it comes as no surprise that it’s a bit short on ports. The 13.3-inch model sports two USB 3.0 ports, Micro HDMI, and a card reader. What really sticks out is the lack of Ethernet or VGA ports. That said, the unit does ship with USB adapters that give the Aspire S7 Ethernet and VGA capabilities.
In addition to the Micro HDMI port, on the left side of the machine is a tiny power button. Being a Windows 8 machine Acer seems to be under the impression that you’ll just leave the machine on and just close the screen when not in use. Also on the left side is the tiny hole for the AC. Pretty neat.
When it comes to multimedia, the Acer Aspire S7 also sports Dolby Home Theater-enhanced sound. Of course, being so small the sound is pretty tinny. But this is more of a secondary or tertiary feature.
- 3DMark 06: 5067
- Cinbench 10 (1 CPU): 5204
- Cinbench 10 (x CPU): 10566
- Cinbench 10 Open GL: 5938
- Battery Eater 05: 174
When it comes to performance the Acer Aspire S7 performed very well relative to other ultrtabooks we’ve tested. The 3DMark 06 score of 5067, while it’s not gonna break any speed records is pretty darn good for an utrabook. And the Cinbench 10 (x CPU) score of 10566 is testament to the Intel Core i7-3517U processor running at 2.40GHz.
The Acer Aspire S7 13.3-inch model offers up to 12 hours of battery life and in our tests we achieved a Battery Eater 05 score of 174. Of course, your battery life will vary depending on what types of computing you’re doing.
Additionally, the keyboard backlight also automatically adjusts depending on ambient brightness similar to the MacBook Air. The Acer Aspire S7 also benefits from a unique cooling system which is great when you’re traveling and keeping the thing on your lap.
When it comes to Windows 8 a user’s experience will be tied directly to the device that they’re using. To that end, the Acer Aspire S7 is a great way to experience Windows 8. With its sleek design and top-notch specifications this is the perfect companion for road warriors.
We really liked the inclusion of the Intel Core i7-3517U processor, 13.3-inch Multi-touch FHD Acer CineCrystal LCD, and 256GB of storage. The battery life with this device is great and the fact that it’s only 2.9lbs means that we’ll be rocking this baby for a while.
We were somewhat disappointed with the flimsy Bluetooth mouse and iffy touchpad. Of course these are by no means deal breakers. Also, the Acer Aspre S7 is somewhat pricey compared to other Windows 8 Ultrabooks.
If you’re in the market for a Windows 8 Ultrabook and the relatively high price doesn’t scare you off then you’ll no doubt dig the Acer Aspire S7. With its list of speedy components, amazing display and svelte size, it pretty much is the Windows 8 Ultrabook to beat right now.
William O’Neal (Twitter, Google+) is the Editor-in-chief of TechRadar. As a technology editor and journalist he has written for a variety of outlets over the last 16 years, including CNET, Computer Gaming World and Incite. Wil also spent two years as the on-air gadget correspondent on G4TV’s live daily show, Attack of the Show. Before joining TechRadar, Wil was the editor-in-chief of @GAMER, The Official Games Magazine of Best Buy. TechRadar loves tech and is unashamedly geeky about it. They’ll tell you what they think in a fair, unbiased way. They’re able to promise this because they’re the largest UK-based consumer technology news and reviews site (and now rapidly growing in the US and Australia), their editorial independence is backed by the weight of technology publisher Future Publishing plus objective test data from the TechRadar Labs. You can follow them on Twitter @TechRadar.