Design and Hardware Features
The silver Acer S7-393 comes in at just under three pounds—2.87, to be exact. We had no trouble carrying the lightweight laptop around in a messenger bag for a good chunk of the day. It also fit fairly well in a standard backpack, owing to its 12.7-by-8.8-inch size (slightly larger than a piece of standard loose-leaf paper). Most noteworthy is the laptop's extremely small height, a mere half an inch. Acer's laptop, like most ultrabooks, is about as pleasantly portable as it gets.
The laptop's shiny exterior is relatively free of adornments, save for an acer logo that glows when you fire the system up. It's basically a cutout in the rear of the laptop's screen, and we like how Acer repurposed the laptop's backlighting in such a way. On its right side, you'll find one of the laptop's two USB 3.0 ports, its single HDMI port, and what Acer describes as an "Acer converter port"—a mini-DisplayPort slash quasi-Lightning connector that might allow you to connect external monitors, but also works with a proprietary Acer cable if you need VGA, LAN, or USB connectivity. (Acer doesn't go into great detail about this port on its website, though said cable costs around $35 from Acer's online store.)
The laptop's left side houses its other USB 3.0 port, as well as its power button and an SD card reader. Yes, this is an ultrabook—you're not going to see built-in wired Ethernet connectivity, nor a smorgasbord of other connection options adorning the sides of this extremely thin laptop. And, no, don't expect to (ever) find an optical drive, either.
On the inside, the S7-393 supports 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. (Acer doesn't specify how many spatial streams its Intel wireless-ac 7265 wireless chip can run, but it's two, or a maximum theoretical speed of 867 Mbps.) Its 13.3-inch IPS display looks lovely, and it's also multi-touch—tap your way around the preinstalled Windows 8.1 operating system, if you desire. The IPS part is critical, because this laptop's viewing angles are much improved over a lesser laptop with a TN screen. Since the S7-393's screen can bend back to be as flat as the keyboard (and you can switch its orientation with a hotkey, to show another person what you're working on), being able to actually see what's on the screen at odd angles without it looking horrible is a pretty big deal.
When we ran through the display tests over at Lagom.nl, we found that the screen did a decent job of reproducing very dark detail on an otherwise black page—reaching the sixth value on a 255-gradient scale before the black test boxes blended into the all-black background. We've seen some IPS laptops get all the way down to one, so we weren't the most thrilled with the Acer's performance. On an all-white page, the laptop delivered detail all the way up to the 253rd step, which was great.
The laptop's keyboard—like most ultrabooks—might not thrill you. Since Acer combines numbers, symbols, and functions on the same keys, doing simple things like closing a window with (what's normally) the ALT+F4 command now becomes a tricky dance of FN+ALT+F4. It's a subtle difference, but one that drove us a bit crazy (since we're used to doing it the conventional way on most laptops and desktops). Otherwise, we had no issues typing on the keyboard itself. The laptop's touchpad doesn't have any extra buttons for clicking (nor does it actually click). We would have liked some kind of tactile response to know that, yes, our tap successfully translated to a left or right click.The laptop's speakers are located on its underside, and they sounded fine to us, all things considered. We watched the new Star Wars trailer with no major issues (though we wouldn't have minded some way to get a little extra bass). Depending on the surface you're using the laptop on (like your lap, versus a desk), you'll probably end up muffling the sound a little bit.