- attractive portable design
- vibrant 1080p touch-enabled display
- strong performance
- mediocre speakers
The latest iteration of the Acer Aspire S7 improves upon its unique and portable chassis design with a boost to battery life and performance.
The updated Acer Aspire S7 is the ideal sequel. Acer has taken the well-built albeit flawed utlrabook and turned it into a true top-tier competitor. Increasing the capacity of its 4-cell battery and making the move towards Intel’s new fourth-generation Haswell processors, the old endurance problems that plagued the first generation Acer Aspire S7 are no longer an issue.
While Acer was quick to rectify the Aspire S7’s faults, the company also held onto the device’s best features. The unique white metallic chassis design returns with an improved keyboard and even faster performance; all while retaining its incredibly thin form factor.
With key improvements to performance and battery life along with a unique sophisticated design the Acer Aspire S7 has become one of the most appealing ultrabooks on the market.
Build and Design
There are very few things in the tech world that should remain static, but the Acer Aspire S7’s chassis design is one of them. The distinctive white aluminum chassis makes a triumphant return in the 2013 model. A protective layer of Gorilla Glass 2 seals away the bright metallic lid. The glossy finish not only serves as an additional buffer to the elements, but a visual stimulant; as the glass surface easily catches the light creating a reflective sheen that further accentuates the attractive aesthetic.
A thin silver strip runs along the outer edges of display case down towards the device’s 180-degree display hinge. That same silver adorns the device’s deck, keyboard and touchpad. Finally the Aspire S7 tops off it design with an LED backlit “Acer” logo. The lettering sits atop the middle left-hand side of the device’s display case. When the lid is closed the backlit lights turn off causing the lettering to appear in silver. However, when the device is active the fluorescent white LED lights turn on causing the logo to contrast sharply against the white metallic backdrop.
Utilizing high-grade build materials and unibody design the Acer Aspire S7 affords considerable durability despite its slim frame. The bottom half of the chassis is resilient failing to budge when pressure was applied. The display case proves less stubborn, flexing slightly under pressure and noticeable rippling does appear on screen. While the screen rippling could be troubling, the device’s protective Gorilla Glass 2 case and sturdy display hinge design provide insurance that the Aspire S7 will hold up under wear and tear.
Measuring in at 12.7″ x 8.8″ x 0.56″ and weighing in at 2.87 lbs. the Aspire manages to pack its visual splendor inside an incredibly thin form factor. With a practically non-existent 0.56″ thickness the Aspire S7 makes most compact competitors such as the 0.68″MackBook Air appear bulky by comparison. However, the Aspire S7 is still not the thinnest device on the market; the Samsung Series ATIV Book 9 is marginally thinner with a 0.51″ thickness and lighter weighing in at only 2.56lbs.
Given the Acer Aspire S7’s thin form factor it is not surprising that users will have to make some concessions when it comes to connectivity. With its limited real-estate the Aspire S7 is only able to offer a sparse selection of ports, but the device still manages to cover the essentials; featuring two USB 3.0 ports, an SD-card reader, a HDMI connecter, an audio jack and an Acer Converter Port.
|Left: power jack, USB 3.0, SD card reader||Right: Acer Converter Port, HDMI connector, USB 3.0 port, audio jack|
The Acer Converter Port can easily be mistaken for a Mini-Displayport. In fact Acer?s proprietary port may be compatible with some devices that utilize a Mini-Displayport connection, but Acer offers no guarantee that the port will work in that capacity. Instead Acer?s port is designed to pair with a dongle that features VGA, Ethernet and USB 2.0 connectors. While not as convenient as built-in ports, the dongle provides a solution to the Aspire S7?s limited surface area and helps the device offer a considerable level of connectivity.
Unfortunately Notebook Review was unable to test the dongle as it was not included with the review unit, but the dongle is included with a retail version of the device.
Display and Sound
Keeping in line with the device’s eye-catching aesthetic, the Acer Aspire S7 features a sharp 13.3″ 1080p IPS display. Images and text are detailed and easy to read on the vibrant 288nits screen. Color contrast is also exceptional as Notebook Review noticed how crisp the default background image of a sunflower appeared with the bright white petals laying across the clear blue sky backdrop.
The display affords ten-point touch controls, quickly responding to swipes and multi-finger command prompts without lag. The consistent accuracy of the display’s touch controls makes navigating the device solely through touch commands a viability if desired. Using touch controls is even easier thanks to the Aspire S7’s display hinge, which becomes noticeably more resistant past 90 degrees to ensure that the display holds its position when implementing touch commands.
The Aspire S7 also boasts flexible viewing angles. Along the horizontal axis image quality remained consistent; though slight color loss and minor reflections can be seen at around 180 degrees. The display behaves similarly along the vertical axis, with the display holding up when the screen is titled both forwards or backwards. The glossy display does become slightly reflective in direct lighting, but the impact is small and does little to mar the viewing experience that the Aspire S7 provides.
The notebook houses a pair of speakers on the bottom back end of the device’s chassis. While the speaker location isn’t an issue when the device sits on hard flat surface, the speakers do sound muffled when using the device as a laptop. The small notebooks is loud enough to provide audio for a small group of people, but the device will likely struggle to fill an entire room with audio.
The S7 is outfitted with Dolby Home Theater v4. The software package provides audio pre-sets for movies, music and games; offering a number of graphic equalizer options for users who want complete control over their settings. The software does help to add some life to the otherwise hollow sound experience of the Acer Aspire S7, but even with the help of Dolby Home Theater the speakers leave much to be desired.
While listening to an orchestral track Notebook Review noticed a considerable amount of distortion from the speakers. Even when turning the speakers down to 50 percent capacity there was still some distortion as the speakers failed to fully detail the nuances of the track. Luckily this issue is far less pronounced with other types of media, as Notebook Review had no problem enjoying various television streams. The speakers will suffice for normal use, but if users want a quality audio experience they will have turn to an external device.
The Acer Aspire S7 features a silver LED backlit Chiclet-style keyboard. The rounded keys are outfitted with a matte finish that is smooth to the touch. Acer makes the most out of the device’s slim frame offering adequate spacing and considerable travel distance given the device’s minuscule 0.56″ thickness. With responsive tactile feedback each key quickly snaps back into place after it has been released. The Aspire S7 offers a tightly controlled typing experience that allows users to type with speed, precision and comfort.
Located directly below the spacebar the Aspire S7 houses a sizable touchpad. Outfitted with a smooth silver finish the touchpad allows for frictionless travel affording better accuracy and precision. Devoid of mouse buttons the touchpad instead relies on multi-finger gestures. Equipped with Synaptics drivers the touchpad performs wonderfully, with each swipe, click and multi-finger gesture immediately resulting in the desired result.