GADGET WATCH: Acer Aspire S7

Windows 8 has definitely made a splash in the computing market, although the reaction to Microsoft’s latest software has been mixed. Whether it’s a step in the right direction or a regression will be discovered in due course.

The Acer Aspire S7 is one of the first Windows 8 laptops on the market. But does it deliver an experience worth buying?

Hardware and features

The Acer Aspire S7 comes in a few different models and screen sizes, available in 11.6 inches and 13.3 inches.

The device is powered by an Intel Core i5 Ivy Bridge processor, with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of solid-state storage. It contains 4GB of RAM, while connectivity includes HDMI, USB and memory card reader ports.

The Aspire S7 also features integrated Intel graphics, along with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a quote battery time of 12 hours. There’s also a front-facing 1.3 megapixel webcam.

What’s the consensus?

Over at The Verge, the first thing pointed out is the build quality. The Aspire S7 is a top-notch machine when it comes to construction, built of textured aluminium and magnesium alloy. It’s important for a laptop to feel strong and secure, and that’s exactly what The Verge has found.

“It's not only the construction though; it's the attention to detail. The thin chiclet keyboard matches the perfectly flat aluminium deck so well that it seems to spring from the same silvery metal, and the Acer logo on the back of the machine is a transparent foil that sparkles no matter the lighting conditions.”

Engadget had more to say, praising the connection ports including card readers. It did, however, point out there was only a micro HDMI port, although the laptop comes with converters.

But the real praise point is the screen. Engadget says the screen is “one of the loveliest laptop displays we’ve seen in some time, the sort of panel that puts other laptops to shame”.

That’s high praise, but they’re not alone. PC World points out the screen – which is a complete touchscreen – was responsive to all the new gestures supported by the Windows 8 software.

Overall, it said, it’s a “brilliant” display that produces “rich colours and good enough brightness to counter most reflections off the Gorilla Glass fronting”.

“Photos and videos were displayed with excellent contrast and we never had to change the tilt of the screen to get better colours or to show lost details.”

Back at The Verge, there was some praise for performance. It notes the Acer boots up in about 8.8 seconds. With regard to bloatware, there are only a few programs on the Start Screen and they are easy to remove. No more bloatware on the desktop.

But at Engadget, there was some bad news about the fan performance. Overall, despite the good performance, the fans were said to be lacking and battery life is definitely a disappointment. In fact, it only came in at four hours and 18 minutes. That’s well below its competitors.

“We were so taken aback by these scores that we contacted Acer to rule out the possibility that we had received a lemon.”

“So, the runtime here really is pretty bad, a large step below mediocre. And that's a shame: if not for the awful battery life, this would be a killer ultraportable.”

Who’s it for?

Whether or not you’ll find the Acer Aspire S7 a good purchase depends entirely on whether you like Windows 8. If you’ve played around with the OS and think you’ll like using it on a regular basis, then you should definitely consider it. The laptop is built well, and strong enough to withstand years of use.

The other major caveat is battery life. It’s poor compared to the rest of the market – only just over four hours. That will be even less for heavier users.

So the Acer Aspire S7 is a well-built laptop, with some considerations to keep in mind. If you don’t mind Windows 8, or don’t necessarily need long battery life, this is an excellent choice.

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