The Acer Aspire S7 Ultrabook is one of a new breed of Windows 8-powered super thin laptops aimed at stealing market share away from Apple and its MacBook Air line. It’s got the specs to impress: a 13-inch HD screen, a waif-like 11.9mm profile, super fast Intel Core i5 processor and 4GB of RAM. And Windows 8’s ace in the hole is ground-up touchscreen support. But is that enough for £1,100? Let’s take a look.
We won’t name names, but some Windows Ultrabook makers have completely ripped off Apple’s design (Oh go on then: we mean you, Asus). The Aspire S7 doesn’t suffer from this: it may be thin and light with a tapering chassis, but its metal frame and white lacquered top give it its own unique style, and it’s one we’re quite taken with.
Acer’s managed to stuff plenty of ports into the slim frame too: there are two USB ports, an SD card slot and even an HDMI-out for lashing it up to a monitor or HD telly, a convenience the MacBook Air actually lacks. It flies too: the cutting edge Core i5 CPU whizzes along, and is more than capable of handling day to day tasks you’d need a super portable machine for, and playing back HD video too.
It’s the touchscreen that has us hooked however: ignore the doubters, Windows 8 makes a lot of sense when you can tap all those big juicy icons and swipe around. Swiping back to a previous app from a side of the screen, just like on an iPad or the Microsoft Surface tablet, is fast and intuitive: we’re sorry, but Steve Jobs was flat out wrong when he said touchscreens on laptops don’t work.
While we like the design of the Acer Aspire S7, we’re a bit baffled by some of the nonsense Acer’s scrawled on it around the keyboard. We doubt you’ll feel the need to be constantly reminded that it’s been “Professionally Tuned”, or that the sound has been “Dolby Home Theater”-ified.
But that’s a minor issue. The S7’s greatest sin is its trackpad. It’s loose and unresponsive in a way that’ll leave you running to the touchscreen everytime - and as useful as this option is, sometimes you end the accuracy of a cursor. This drove us mad, and we suspect it will you too.
The bottom line
The Acer Aspire S7 has lots going for it: Windows 8 on a touchscreen works a treat, and its design is all its own. But in a world where a similarly sized MacBook Air costs as little as £850, there seems little point in bothering with rivals priced well above £1,000. Even if you’re a Microsoftie to the bone, you don’t want to pay extra for an Ultrabook with a worse trackpad.