With the new Windows 8 operating system comes a whole new range of touchscreen devices to work with it, and Ultrabooks are currently at the forefront of this movement, the latest to hit the shelves is the new Aspire S7 touchscreen ultrabook from Acer, packing a sleek and clean design alongside a 1080p, 10-point touch display and up to a core i7 processor from Intel, however is it worth it considering the device will set you back £1,200 for the base model that only includes a Core i5 chipset?
Well if the design is anything to go by, that is a defiant yes. The review sample we were sent came in a sleek white plastic/ glass/ aluminum combo, which feels great to hold, and of course touch, however it does scream Apple, especially when you notice the Acer logo on the back of the lid is actually illuminated.
That’s not to say that Acer haven’t thought about the design for the S7. Measuring only 11.9mm thick and weighing in at only 1.3KGs, the S7 is extremely light and easy to hold, which makes it great for computing on the go, it’s actually a wonder how this thing runs with that little space inside of it.
In fact most of the S7’s design has been molded to be as thin as possible, whilst still being a productive laptop. The fans are probably the most astonishing parts of this design, as they have been crafted to keep the entire laptop cool most of the time, which has been done by separating where cool air is taken in and where the warm air is blasted out, a feature you will find around the back of the ultrabook itself.
However I found that this attention to detail started to crumble when I lifted the lid to find the keyboard, which is a badly placed mess of buttons requiring you to hold Fn and another button to perform certain tasks such as turning up the volume, however the one button I cannot find is one to play/ pause a track or even skip it.
Alongside this the buttons have been mashed together into one cramped ensemble, the keys also seem a little too shallow, disallowing a firm press on any of the keys, both of which make this keyboard extremely hard to type on.
However there is one plus, Acer have made the keys backlighted which are adjusted depending on the ambient light, however they are colored a slightly greenish tint, something I can’t help but think would be better in white.
The trackpad is also very unresponsive, and I found it accidentally opening up Windows 8 applications when I was trying to drag and drop a file, or even just move the cursor to my next clicking location, thankfully Acer have included a Bluetooth mouse in the box, to help fight your trackpad woes (also included is a very nice leather case for the ultrabook).
Then you get to the screen with an impressive 1920 x 1080 HD resolution, it’s extremely sharp and images/ videos are great to look at, alongside which viewing angles are great, however in some situations it can seem a little dull.
The main thing about this display is of course it’s touchscreen capabilities, which works great when working within the Windows 8 interface, a truly responsive experience, however some things on the screen can be hard to tap when in the desktop view.
But that’s more of a problem with Windows 8 itself and has nothing to do with Acer to be honest.
Alongside the display, comes great performance, and the 1.7GHz Intel Core i5 processor eats up most tasks, however it’s doesn’t have to great a performance that it warrants a price tag above £1000, as a lot of other laptops that are a couple hundred quid cheaper can do the same if not better.
One thing to note is that this is not a gaming PC, that said recently I have been playing a lot of Minecraft on it and it works perfectly fine, a game we all know can hinder even the top-notch PCs.
In fact, in our Geekbench test the ultrabook received a score of 4995, and after looking around I found that the version with the i7 processor got a score of 6067.
I also played both the new Tomb Raider and The Walking Dead: Survival Instincts games on this laptop during my two weeks of testing, which also worked perfectly fine, despite a few frame drops during autosaves on Tomb Raider it was defiantly a pleasant experience, in fact the only put off with this machine when gaming was defiantly the fan which tends to become quite loud when faced with intense programs.
The i5 also comes packed with 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, neither of which can be upgraded. There’s also two USB 3.0 ports, a mini HDMI and a 3.5mm headphone out port, there’s also a set of Dolby Home Theater speakers on the bottom of the S7, that work perfectly fine, tremendously in some situations, but mostly just okay.
You’ll also find Windows 8 64-bit pre-loaded on the PC, which works well with the S7.
Probably the worst thing about the S7 is defiantly its battery life, something that Acer promises to be 12 hours, however I never managed to achieve anywhere near this during my testing, only occasionally getting a max of four hours, of course you might have to be a little more conservative than me if you want to gain extra hours.
Overall the S7 is perfectly fine ultrabook to buy if you’re looking to purchase a new one, it looks great, has a brilliant display (have I mentioned it’s a touchscreen!) and it will grant you some great performance.
However it is not a laptop for everyday use, the battery, storage space and annoying keyboard will disallow that, however when purchasing an Ultrabook these are things that shouldn’t pop into your mind, as the whole point of buying one is to use as a portable machine, if you want everyday use buy a desktop.
To conclude, if you looking for a new ultrabook you defiantly couldn’t go wrong with the Acer Aspire S7, however if you looking to save the pennies I’d advice going elsewhere.
Disclosure: Acer sent us this product on loan for review purposes.