Breathtakingly slim and gorgeous, the aluminum and glass Acer Aspire S7 wows testers with swift performance to match. Only a lower-resolution though still very nice display keeps it from the top of the Windows Ultrabook pack.
Super-fast, and the battery lasts. The newest configurations of the Acer Aspire S7 (the Acer Aspire S7-392) come with the latest Intel Core processors code-named Haswell -- choose between Core i5 and Core i7 -- 8 GB RAM instead of 4 GB and faster RAID 0 solid-state drives. The integrated graphics chip with 128 MB of dedicated system memory is fine for light gaming. Battery life is good at 8.5 hours in tests, but is bested by other Haswell-based machines and trounced by some, such as the 13-inch MacBook Air (Est. $1,050 and up) .
One of the thinnest you can buy. The Acer S7's stellar touch screen makes navigating Windows 8 a breeze: You can pinch, tap and swipe to your heart's content. However, the display is lower resolution than some competitors. For example, the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus (Est. $1,400) boasts a QuadHD+ 3,200-by-1,800-pixel screen. At just a half-inch thick and well under 3 pounds, the Acer is even thinner and lighter than the 13-inch Air, but its svelte profile is matched by other Windows Ultraportables, including Samsung's offering, which also weighs nearly a half-pound less. If the absolute lightest laptop is a must, the 1.9-pound Sony Vaio Pro 11 (Est. $1,150 and up) blows both away, though at the expense of lower performance. Keyboard ergonomics are upgraded from earlier-generation S7's, but Laptop Magazine holds that there's still some room for improvement. Port selection is still slim, as usual for an Ultrabook; you get two USB 3.0 jacks, an HDMI port, headphone jack and memory card slot.
Gorgeous design, with a few practical bobbles. Critics wholeheartedly agree that few laptops look as stunning as the S7. Its tapered aluminum unibody looks minimalist and clean, with a scratch-resistant white Gorilla Glass lid. CNET complains that the glass-covered lid does feel a little top-heavy, however. Laptop Magazine notes that the lid is a hair shorter than the deck, resulting in "a configuration that is interesting to look at, but makes opening the notebook a bit of a hassle." The sturdy hinge takes a little more effort to move past 100 degrees or so, but PCMag.com notes that it gives the S7 "a rock solid screen during touch operations, without the bounce you'll see in some other touch ultrabooks."
Facebook and Twitter are best for tech support. Acer's one-year warranty is nothing special and doesn't win it a Readers' Choice award at PCMag.com, whose editors consider reliability. It does score highest among all brands for ease of setup, however, with everything almost always working perfectly right out of the box. Acer's tech support continues to improve according to this year's Laptop Magazine tech support "showdown" but scores relatively poorly in the site's rankings of best and worst laptop brands.
The best doesn't come cheap. You can get Haswell-powered Ultrabooks for less cash, but they won't have the Acer Aspire S7's super-svelte body or gorgeous design. However, some competitors have closed the distance -- if not caught up -- by delivering systems with similar performance, similar build quality, similar profiles, but added features such as higher-resolution screens.
The Acer Aspire S7 earns an Editors' Choice award here. Performance and battery life are well liked. The build quality and design are well loved.
Review: Acer Aspire S7-392-6411, Joel Santo Domingo, Aug. 30, 2013
Dan Ackerman says that despite increased competition, the Aspire S7 is a hard laptop not to like. Design remains eye-catching. Performance and battery life are very good. Some issues are cited with the keyboard and touchpad.
Review: Acer Aspire S7-392-6411 Review: Glass-topped Ultrabook Delivers Performance, Style, Dan Ackerman, Aug. 13, 2013
3. Laptop Magazine
The S7 gets an Editors' Choice award at Laptop Magazine. "The Acer Aspire S7 is a slim, stylish Ultrabook that offers strong performance, very long battery life and a gorgeous, full-1080p touch screen," Smith says.
Review: Acer Aspire S7 (2013) Review, Sherri L. Smith, Aug. 5, 2013
DigitalTrends.com finds the latest generation Acer Aspire S7 to be worth considering. "It's still not perfect, but with a bigger battery, a better keyboard, and a new Haswell CPU, Acer's updated S7 manages to be ultra-thin without many major sacrifices," Safford says.
Review: Acer Aspire S7-392 Review, Matt Safford, Aug. 21, 2013
Dana Wollman finds that the latest version of the S7 fixes most of the disappointments of its predecessor. "The Acer Aspire S7-392 is what the original should have been: It offers long battery life, runs quietly and brings a much-improved trackpad," she writes.
Review: Acer Aspire S7 Review (2013): The Second Time's a Charm for Acer's Flagship Ultrabook, Dana Wollman, Aug. 13, 2013
6. Laptop Magazine
Acer earns a B-plus in this tech-support test. Support via Twitter is great -- a question was answered in eight minutes, but support via Facebook disappoints. Phone support is better than before, though one trial returns a wrong answer.
Review: Tech Support Showdown 2013: Winners and Losers, Mark Spoonauer, Oct. 21, 2013
Acer doesn't win any Readers' Choice awards here. While it does score best for initial ease of setup, its reliability ratings are below average.
Review: Readers' Choice Awards 2013 Winners: Laptops and Desktops, Ben Gottesman, Feb. 20, 2013
The Acer Aspire S7-392 earns a little bit of user feedback -- just over 20 reports at last look. The 3.4-star rating reflects mixed user happiness. Some issues with the keyboard and spotty Wi-Fi performance are noted.
Review: Acer Aspire S7-392-6832 13.3-Inch Touchscreen Ultrabook, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of November 2013