Small Business Notebook Review: Acer Aspire S7 UltraBook - Page 2

By Jamie Bsales | Posted July 15, 2013

Aspire S7 Ultrabook Hardware Features

The Aspire S7 gets great battery life thanks, in part, to the 128GB or 256GB solid state drive (SSD) used in lieu of a traditional hard drive. Instead of spinning platters and mechanical drive heads, the SSD is simply Flash memory. That not only cuts down on power usage, it also means the drive is virtually crash-proof, keeping your precious business data safe. 

Of course, the marquee hardware feature—beyond the laptop's design itself—is the high-definition touchscreen. The S7-391's 13.3-inch panel has a resolution of 1920-by-1080 pixels: full HD video. That makes for exceedingly detailed images and crisp text.

Acer Aspire S7 UltraBook

Figure 2: Rear view of the Acer Aspire S7 UltraBook.

Combined with the LCD's brightness, the on-screen image is stunning—perfect for streaming HD video for work or play purposes, or you can connect an external Blu-ray player to make it a personal movie machine. Alas, the laptop's size precludes a built-in DVD or Blu-ray drive.

The one downside to the HD screen: Text in Windows applications, websites and dialog boxes can be tiny, especially for those of us over 40. You'll probably wind up using the zoom features in your browser or applications quite often.

Back in the plus column, we like the screen's excellent touch capabilities. The panel supports 10-finger touch, as opposed to early touchscreens which could only recognize input from one or two fingers at a time. Granted, we can't think of an action that would make use of all 10 touch inputs at once, but it's nice to know the screen can handle it if an app does come along that makes use of it.

All told, we found navigating via touch—flipping through photos, scrolling up and down on websites, zooming in and out of applications—to be smooth, natural and accurate.

A surprisingly good sound system adds to the S7-391's multimedia appeal. Most ultra-thin UltraBooks have underpowered speakers that deliver tinny sound akin to a transistor radio—or for a more modern analogy, akin to a tablet or smartphone with a pitiful built-in speaker. Not the Aspire S7.

Credit the two built-in Acer 3DSonic stereo speakers and Dolby Home Theater v4 Audio Enhancement technology. The sound quality is very clean and rich, ideal for videoconference calls and sharing business videos with clients, not to mention enjoying music videos when work is done.

Our only complaint on the multimedia front: the 1.3-megapixel webcam. Most tablets these days deliver high-def cameras for videochats and the like, so the relatively low resolution of the S7's camera may be noticeable to those on the other end of the web conference.

Acer didn't skimp, however, when it came to performance. The Aspire S7 models come with a latest-generation Intel Core i5 processor or even a fast Core i7 chip in the highest end models. (All models come with 4GB of RAM.) That means all your business productivity apps will have plenty of horsepower at their disposal—even demanding apps such as video- and photo-editing programs. Try that with a tablet.

Pricing

Prices for the Aspire S7 family aren't cheap, but they are in line with other premium ultraportable laptops. The 11.6-inch models start at $1,199; the mid-level 13.3-inch S7-391 costs $1,399; and the top-end S7-391 models are priced at $1,649.

Given the high-end performance specs and stunning-yet-practical design, those prices are not unreasonable. If you need an exceedingly thin, incredibly light laptop as a daily traveling companion, the Acer Aspire S7 makes perfect sense.

Jamie Bsales is an award-winning technology writer and editor with more than 20 years of experience covering the latest hardware, software and Internet products and services.

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