Acer Aspire S7 Ultrabook Review

Design & Accessories

If you were hoping to see a display that flips 180 degrees to face the person across from you, you’re thinking of the Aspire R7. Still, the Acer Aspire S7 display has its own trick, and it’s almost as good: the screen folds down flat and the image reorients (with the push of a button) so that the person sitting across from you can see it too. If the two of you are at a smallish table, this works well and the display's touch support makes it so your friend can engage with whatever you’re showing.

As far as day-to-day use goes, the display feature that will probably matter more to you is the dual-torque hinge, which keeps the display in place while you swipe and tap the screen. The hinge works as advertised, and adds to sense of sturdiness you get when using the ultrabook. As thin as the Aspire S7 is (it’s a hair over half an inch thick at its thickest point), the system feels remarkably solid.

Hinge aside, the S7 owes that sturdiness to the aluminum unibody and the Gorilla Glass casing. Paired with the white background, the Gorilla Glass gives the S7’s lid a sophisticated, stylish look. The fancy lid may not be for everyone, but it’s a welcome break from the aluminum (or aluminum-colored plastic) showing up on most laptops and ultrabooks these days. A fan near the back of the ultrabook pulls in cool air and expels warm, all with nearly inaudible noise.

The S7 isn’t loaded with interface options, but it covers the bases. The USB 3.0 ports (there are only two) sit on either side of the system, near the back. The Acer converter port, HDMI port and microphone jack are all on the right side. One quibble we have (and it doesn’t even make it into the cons list in our summary) is that, with the headphone jack near the back of the ultrabook, it’s easy for a headphone cord to slide up onto the keyboard. The SD slot and power button flank the USB 3.0 port on the left side of the S7.

The Aspire S7's new TwinAir cooling system pulls cool air in from side vents and a back vent (the left-hand vent in this image) and expels it from a separate back vent. (In this image, that's the right-hand vent.)

As for audio, the volume is fine for an ultrabook, thanks in part to the speakers, which are located at the front bottom of the system. If you’re watching a movie or listening to tunes in a small-ish room, the S7’s speakers have you covered.

The trackpad is large enough to accommodate long swipes and is very responsive. In fact, it’s one of the better trackpads we’ve used. The keyboard keys are responsive, too, but the layout might throw you. Where laptops (and even many ultrabooks) generally have six rows of keys, the Aspire S7 has five. That means the top bank does triple duty: numbers by default, symbols with the shift key, and function 1-10 with the function key. Despite all that, Acer still found itself short on space and ended up moving the delete key to the bottom row of the keyboard. It also made the caps lock button very small and paired it with the tilde. We got used to the new delete key placement over time, but we were still hitting the tilde by accident by the end of this review.

You'll need to get used to the tiny caps lock key and the unusual placement of the delete key.

One thing that we love about the keyboard is the electroluminescent backlighting, which is light sensitive. Finding keyboard keys in the dark is not a problem with the Aspire S7.

As for accessories, this ultrabook travels light. It includes an AC adapter and a nice faux-leather sleeve that ought to provide reasonable protection from your keys and other sharp objects in your laptop bag.

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