I recently got my hands on the Acer Aspire S7 Ultrabook and was impressed the moment I took it out of the box, and continued to feel that way as I ran it through its paces. It is a beautiful machine with a stunning display, very speedy performance, all in a very thin and light form factor. It is no wonder they call it the “professional edition” as the design of the S7 Ultrabook is very sophisticated. This machine is an able competitor that is worthy of very serious consideration for your next computer.
I have to admit that I am a die-hard Mac user, so I was pretty apprehensive about testing out the Windows-based Acer Ultrabook. As much as I hate to admit it, I was very pleasantly surprised by this machine and found it to be very comparable to the Macbook Air in terms of design quality and performance. It was impressive in many ways.
In the Box
Even the box that the Aspire comes in has a more sophisticated flare about it. The Ultrabook came packaged with an extremely attractive faux suede grey case that it fits perfectly in. Even with the Aspire S7 in its case, it is very thin and light making it extremely easy to carry around. The only other things in the box are an AC power cord and a simple startup booklet. The AC power cord is equipped with a very long cable so you won’t feel like you have to be tethered close to the nearest outlet in order to charge it up.
The Aspire S7 looks and feels like an elegant Macbook Air. Like the Air it has an aluminum chassis but the top is made of white Gorilla Glass and the bottom is a very durable hard white plastic. The display screen is extremely sharp because it is full high definition IPS (In-plane switching) with 1,920 X 1,080 pixel resolution. On a relatively small 13.3” screen this makes for dazzling clarity of images. As an Ultrabook, it performs as both a computer as well as a touchscreen tablet so the screen is very durable, as IPS screens tend to be. It has edge-to-edge glass on the display screen, which adds to the premium aesthetics of the Aspire S7.
The entire keyboard and touchpad area has a nice aluminum finish. Even the keys have the same silver aluminum look to them although I think they are made of a durable hard plastic. The touchpad is made of hardened glass as your finger glides across it with ease. The keys all have a subtle electroluminescent backlight, so they are easy to find if you happen to be working in low light conditions. The Aspire has quite a number of hot-keys so you can quickly and easily make changes – everything from printing the screen to changing the volume or brightness of the screen.
In addition to being extremely attractive, the best part of the Aspire’s design is how thin and light it is. It is 12.72 inches wide, 8.78 inches deep, and only .51 inches high, and only weighs 2.87 pounds. This makes this machine very easy to use and extremely portable, particularly with the custom case that comes with it, which is a very nice touch.
The Acer Aspire S7 Ultrabook comes in a couple of configurations, the primary difference between them is processor speed and memory capacity plus a few other minor differences. Here is a summary of the main specifications – for more detail have look here for the base model, and here for the higher-end one.
Both models are identical in design and exactly the same in size and weight. Both have the same sized high-definition touch screen, and come with a lithium-ion battery. The battery life in the higher-end model is slightly longer than the base model, with a reported rating of 7 to 8 hours. I believe the battery life is actually a bit less than that. It depends on how it is set up, and what applications you are using as some functions are more energy intensive than others.
The base model comes loaded with Windows 8 and the premium model comes with Windows 8 Professional. The Professional Edition that I tested out is the same configuration as that higher-end model above, and I believe may be the only model that comes with the custom case.
I only used the Ultrabook for a few days but I did like how simple it was to set up and get started, as well as the ability to easily move from PC mode to touch-screen tablet mode. The Acer Aspire was extremely responsive no matter what I did. I would expect this from a new PC that has a fairly empty hard drive, but I certainly wasn’t disappointed. I surfed the net quite a bit, checked emails, watched a number of videos, and downloaded a few games that I played – and in every case the machine response was very quick. I didn’t encounter any hint of lag with anything. The Acer Aspire S7 not only has a very fast processor but the solid-state drive also improves the input and output speeds over a normal hard drive.
The screen was a delight to use as well. It was crystal clear with very vibrant colours. The touch screen was extremely nice to use – it has a very solid and durable feel that was also very responsive. The Ultrabook can fully open up so it lies flat. You can also rotate the screen view, which enables you to show it to someone else while flat or use it yourself without the keyboard. I didn’t find it comfortable using it flat and found it easier to use the touch screen with the Ultrabook in my lap like a normal laptop with the screen directly in front of me.
The Acer Aspire S7 Ultrabook is a worthy machine that you can’t help liking. It has a beautifully elegant design, thin, light, and very portable, and provides plenty of versatility and performance. Versatility since it is an Ultrabook that operates as a PC and it can perform like a tablet. Performance because it has a very sharp dazzling screen that is very fast aided by a speedy processor and a solid state drive.
For the ardent Apple user that I am, it is a pleasant surprise to be recommending this machine. I couldn’t help but like just about everything about it. My only concern would be that the biggest hard drive you can get with it is 256 Gb, but this is no different than the Macbook Air. All I know is that between all the latest software, plus music, books, and movies that you might on your machine that it can fill up pretty quickly. Having said that, this is a dilemma with Ultrabooks versus laptops, and not an issue for the Aspire S7 itself. You could always add a portable drive to store extra data that you don’t always need to take with you.