Among numerous ultrabooks presented at IFA, those revealed by Acer were particularly interesting: especially the new Aspire S7 which comes with 11.6 and 13.3-inch screens. There was also a more afforadable Aspire S5 with a 13.3-inch screen. The latter is currently the slimmest ultrabook, measuring only 11.2 millimeters thick with Intel’s Core i5 or i7 processor and 64-bit Windows 7 or Windows 8.
Still, two models of the Aspire S7 series are the slimmest ultrabooks with a touchscreen: being only 11.9 millimeters thick and weighing 1.3 kilograms with an exceptionally elegant aluminum-magnesium unibody construction. I tried these two computers first and was mesmerized, especially by the displays and their performance. The 11.6-inch screen seems like a blown-up tablet, but after handling it for a while, the 1920×1080 resolution leaves the impression that a significantly bigger computer is being used.
Great pixel density combined with Gorilla Glass offers extraordinary sharpness and exceptionally vivid colors, making the contrasting tiles of Windows 8 more modern and attractive than what the new Microsoft OS user interface looks like on screenshots and paper.
On the other hand, the small display simply lures you to perform as many tasks via touch as possible, which largely facilitates getting used to working with the new OS. I loved the speed this device offers, especially on an Intel Core i7 processor with 4 GB DDR3 of RAM and a 256 GB SSD. The way it boots in under ten seconds, opens over ten applications in multitasking without any lags, offers highly precise responses to touch or finger movements across the screen, all leave the impression that this is the most up-to-date portable computer, technology-wise, no matter how small it is.
All this goes equally for the 13.3-inch version. Although it shares the same resolution as the smaller model, due to increased physical size, one can set up a larger number of smaller tiles on the display without eye strain – thus the impression of the Aspires being similar to a tablet is not lost either. It is clear at first glance that this is a powerful yet practical computer, one that gets the job done without sacrificing much in the way of design.
The Acer Aspire S7’s performance is an entirely different story: its white unibody is reminiscent of MacBook Air, with a somewhat more modern and less rounded design and more ports. Irrespective of the size, the Aspire S7 line comes with two USB 3.0 slots, HDMI-out and a memory card reader. The keyboard has a backlight and a very pleasant key depth, with a large, easy-to-use trackpad, meaning even the smaller model can be used straight away without any period of adjustment or typing the wrong keys.
I tested the Aspire S5 with Windows 7 (as the more appropriate operating system for displays that are not touch-sensitive).
With a 13.3-inch screen and a 1366 x 768 resolution, the display is just average (not as impressive as the high resolution found in Acer’s Aspire S7 series), but the same hardware specifications as with the Aspire S7 series delighted me because of the model’s speed. Boot is somewhat slower, which may boil down to the older version of Windows, but after booting, everything felt just as fast as with models that had Windows 8.
What impressed me the most is the computer’s elegance. These 11.2 millimeters make a noticeable difference when compared to other ultrabooks, which are 5 millimeters thicker on average – the Aspire S5 really can get misplaced in a pile of papers. The body is made of solid black plastic, which contributed to the fact that this ultrabook weighs only 1.2 kilograms; despite this, the ultrabook felt robust and solid.