The Aspire S7 is one of the best ultrabooks we have tested so far, and with its touchscreen display, it is built specifically to be used with Windows 8. The build quality is also brilliant, the looks are premium, and it houses a powerful processor inside. The RAID 0 SSD setup is the fastest we have seen in an ultrabook and transfer speeds are ridiculous. Acer Asire S7 also bundles in a wireless mouse and an extra battery pack which add a lot of value to the whole package.
Keyboard, Trackpad and MouseThe keyboard is well laid out and the keys have a great response even though they are thin. The only issue with the keys is that they do not have enough travel which seems necessary to keep things on the slimmer side. For people with large fingers it may take some practice to get used to it. The reviewer did not have any issues with the keyboard as such and it didn?t affect his typing speed. For an ultrabook with such a form factor, there is optimal space for the palmrest. The edges are sharp though but do not bother you much, specially so when you are using the ultrabook with the battery pack attached, as it gives a slight angle to the palm rest which is great.
The trackpad was quite responsive with the gestures and despite it being a single block of plastic, the right and left clicks registered well. The trackpad does tend to get warm on using resource intensive applications such as benchmarks. The region just above the keypad gets considerably hot and you can actually hear the fans whirring when the CPU utilization is well over 85 per cent, as we noticed while running 3D Mark 11 and PC Mark 7 among other benchmarks.
The keypad backlighting works quite well in dark conditions and there are three levels of backlight brightness. The mid-level tends to merge with the silver-hued keys when you are in a perfectly lit room, making it difficult to decipher the alphabets. Since it is an 11.6-inch ultrabook, there is no dedicated numpad or function keys. In fact, the top two rows of the keyboard are mixed with function keys. The placement of the Delete key is on the left hand side of the arrow keys, which are smaller in size as compared to the regular keys.
Graphics The Aspire S7 does not have dedicated graphics, so the graphics test were run on the integrated Intel HD 4000 which is good enough. On a machine like this gaming is going to be disappointing thanks to the small screen size. The CineBench R11.5 OpenGL score was 15.07 which was lesser than that of the Samsung Series 9. 3D Mark 06 gave a score of 4069 whereas 3D Mark 11 gave an overall score of 1021 at Entry level settings which was only slightly lower than that of the Lenovo U410 which also houses a dedicated NVIDIA GeForce GT610M graphics. We did try out the Resident Evil 5 benchmark at 1280x720 with medium settings and got a playable 30 fps. But we doubt this ultrabook will be used for gaming purposes, so the gaming scores are not really relevant here. But just in case your young one wants to play some, this machine is more than capable of handling games such as Cut the Rope.
Touchscreen The Aspire S7?s touchscreen is decently responsive while you are working in the centre. But while using the edge-gestures we noticed that the response was not 100 per cent accurate. Even the trackpad edge-response was a hit and miss affair. The gesture on the left hand side of the trackpad requires a slow sliding of your finger from the non trackpad area to the trackpad area to register the gesture for looking at recently opened apps, the right hand side gesture for the Charms bar works fine.
AudioAudio clarity is quite good and we did not hear any distortion with our test songs even at 100 per cent volume level. The speaker under the base of the S7 tends to muffle sound, if you have the S7 on your lap. The volume levels are not that great, we have heard louder laptops and ultrabooks. The mids were great, but it wasn?t so great with low frequency sounds. The bass intro in Porcupine Tree?s Hatesong is barely audible. It is great for casual listening while you are working.
Battery lifeThe Acer Aspire S7 ran for a good 315 minutes (with the battery bar attached) in our stress test which involved playing a video on loop with all power saving options disabled. While the battery bar provides juice for over two hours, the S7?s onboard battery lasted for the remaining 3 hours. For average use with the battery bar, you can easily use the S7 for close to 8-9 hours which is pretty good. In fact, the battery life test on the S7 was the best amongst all the ultrabooks tested so far.