Acer Aspires to be the Best Ultrabook™

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Ultrabook™. Inspired by Intel®. The term "Ultrabook™" is thrown around so much these days that it’s becoming as commonplace as the term "notebook." And like the term "notebook," it’s becoming harder and harder to distinguish from a field of so many notable contenders. One way to do that is to make Ultrabooks™ that stand out from the pack. Acer may just have accomplished that feat.

What sets apart the Acer S7 series? We had a chance to get our hands on the lineup recently, and we found that the answer is—a great deal. With the Aspire S7 series, you can instantly see what Acer is trying to do to elevate their game. Starting with the construction, the aluminum unibody design wraps the Ultrabook™ in a single, lightweight frame, giving it an airy yet sturdy base, much like the MacBook Air. The one we tested did not exhibit the wobbly hinge construction of other Ultrabooks™—in other words, it was thin (0.46”) but it didn’t feel thin. The Aspire S7-391-6468 and S7-391-9427 models are encased in white Gorilla Glass 2 for a smooth, scratch-resistant shell that looks slick and feels light. The screen snapped open without wiggling back and forth, and as with all of the S7 series, the display can open to 180° and lay flat against any surface.

You may appreciate this feature when you realize that the display, which showcases Full HD 1920 x 1080 native resolution, is also a capacitive 10-point, multitouch touch screen. This allows for some interesting gaming and productivity applications: one person can use the keyboard while another navigates the screen. While I didn’t have a chance to see that functionality in action, Acer promises that future applications will take full advantage of this feature.

Another new feature is the electroluminescent backlit keyboard. This new proprietary technology uses auto sensors to determine the ambient light levels and adjust the brightness under the keyboard. In our test, the luminosity went from a sultry glow to a vibrant, constant shimmer, without ever distracting the user from typing. It seemed more subtle than other LED backlit models, and because Acer uses proprietary cell technology for the lighting, it generates less heat.

Acer also uses a dual-fan system that lets one fan bring in cooler air while the other fan distributes warm air away from the system. You can be a skeptic when you hear such claims, but on this model, the fans do indeed create a definable air flow. Did it make the Ultrabook™ any cooler? I kept it on my lap for almost twenty minutes without noticing any uncomfortable or excessive warmth. And the fans did not add much to the noise level, either.

The keyboard on all models was solid and flexible, without too much lag between keystrokes (as we’ve seen in some Ultrabooks™). The tactile feel of the buttons was solid and responsive, regardless of some minimal looseness in the keys. The touchpad (as with most touchpads) takes some getting used to—it is buttonless and requires some dexterity (and luck) in finding the appropriate command-and-control hotspots on the pad.

All of the models have graphics powered by an integrated Intel® HD Graphics 4000 chip. While adequate for most graphics applications, hardcore gaming is not recommended for these machines. But it did display all of its included applications in sharp, clear detail.

All the Aspire S7 models also have integrated stereo speakers enhanced with Dolby Home Theater v4 audio, a 1.3MP webcam and an integrated mic, perfect for social networking and video conferencing.

Although no optical drive is included, you can always purchase a separate USB optical drive or utilize the added storage of the integrated 2-in-1 memory card reader, which supports SD and MMC cards for up to 32GB of extra storage.

The Aspire S7-391-6468 13.3" Ultrabook computer, available in white Gorilla Glass 2, has a host of features that make it a contender among Ultrabooks™ without the fancy 180° screen: an Ivy Bridge 1.8 GHz Intel® Core™ i5-3337U dual core processor with a 3MB cache, 4GB of DDR3 RAM and a 128GB solid-state drive. It also includes USB 3.0 ports, a micro-HDMI terminal for broadcasting to a larger monitor or HDTV, as well as Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0+HS. The 13.3” active matrix TFT color LED-backlit screen has a 16:9 aspect ratio for full cinematic viewing. It also features Full HD 1920 x 1080 native resolution, and looks brilliant and bright from boot-up to shutdown.

The look and feel of this ultra-thin Ultrabook™ is arguably the best of its class in Ultrabooks™. When closed, these Ultrabooks™ are thinner than a new pack of Post-It™ notes. Their weight (all are under 3 lb) makes these lighter than three cans of soda. Carrying them around all day will not put a significant strain on your shoulders, or your caloric intake.

We also got some hands-on time with the Aspire S7-191-6447 11.6" Ultrabook Computer, which is available in an aluminum unibody and mimics the specifications of the S7-391-6468 exactly, except in screen size. It also includes an Ivy Bridge 1.8 GHz Intel® Core™ i5-3337U dual core processor with 3MB cache, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, 128GB solid-state drive and USB 3.0 ports, a micro-HDMI port, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

The look and feel was the same all around, although your perception of this model may be different. Why? Simply because of the smaller footprint of this model. Everything feels sharper and more defined, especially the screen and graphics.

Finally, we saw the Aspire S7-391-9427. Also sculpted in white Gorilla Glass 2, this 13.3” Ultrabook™ features a much faster 2.0 GHz Intel® Core™ i7-3537U dual core processor, which can be over-clocked to 3.1 GHz, thanks to Intel® Hyper Threading technology. It also features a larger 4MB cache and a roomier 256GB solid-state drive. It has the same 13.3” active matrix TFT color LED-backlit screen as the Aspire S7-391-6468 and also features a Full HD 1920 x 1080 native resolution. All ports and amenities are the same.

Any one of these Ultrabooks™ represents the compact form factor and lightweight feel that defines an Ultrabook™. The Intel® Core™ i5 processor models are perfect for on-the-go computing and multitasking, but if you’re looking to jump into the Ultrabook™ waters, the Acer Aspire S7-391-9427 13.3" Ultrabook™ is the one on which you want to set your sights. The faster processor, larger hard drive and excellent unibody construction make this the one to which you want to Aspire.

For more information, speak with a sales professional in the B&H SuperStore in New York, over the phone at 1-800-606-6969 or online via Live Chat.

  S7-391-6468 S7-191-6447 S7-391-9427
Operating System
Operating System Windows 8 Windows 8 Windows 8
Processor Manufacturer Intel® Intel® Intel®
Processor Type Core™ i5 Core™ i5 Core™ i7
Processor Model i5-3337U i5-3337U i7-3537U
Processor Speed 1.80 GHz 1.80 GHz 2 GHz
Processor Core Dual core (2 Core) Dual core (2 Core) Dual core (2 Core)
Cache 3 MB 3 MB 4 MB
64-bit Processing Yes Yes Yes
Hyper-Threading Yes Yes Yes
Chipset Manufacturer Intel® Intel® Intel®
Chipset Model HM77 Express HM77 Express HM77 Express
Memory
Standard Memory 4 GB 4 GB 4 GB
Memory Technology DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 SDRAM
Memory Card Reader Yes Yes Yes
Memory Card Supported Secure Digital (SD) Card
MultiMediaCard (MMC)
Secure Digital (SD) Card
MultiMediaCard (MMC)
Secure Digital (SD) Card
MultiMediaCard (MMC)
Storage
Solid State Drive Capacity 128GB 128GB 256GB
Optical Drive Type No No No
Display & Graphics
Screen Size 13.3" 11.6" 13.3"
Display Screen Type Active Matrix TFT Color LCD Active Matrix TFT Color LCD Active Matrix TFT Color LCD
Display Screen Technology ComfyView ComfyView ComfyView
Aspect Ratio 16:09 16:09 16:09
Screen Mode Full HD Full HD Full HD
Screen Resolution 1920 x 1080 1920 x 1080 1920 x 1080
Backlight Technology LED LED LED
Touch Screen Yes Yes Yes
Multi-touch Screen Yes Yes Yes
HDCP Supported Yes Yes Yes
Graphics Controller Manufacturer Intel® Intel® Intel®
Graphics Controller Model HD 4000 HD 4000 HD 4000
Graphics Memory Technology DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics Memory Accessibility Shared Shared Shared
Network & Communication
Wi-Fi Yes Yes Yes
Wi-Fi Manufacturer Atheros Atheros Atheros
Wi-Fi Model MD222 MD222 MD222
Wi-Fi Standard IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth Yes Yes Yes
Bluetooth Standard Bluetooth 4.0 + HS Bluetooth 4.0 + HS Bluetooth 4.0 + HS
Built-in Devices
Webcam Yes Yes Yes
Microphone Yes Yes Yes
Finger Print Reader No No No
Interfaces/Ports
HDMI Yes Yes Yes
Total Number of USB Ports 2 2 2
Number of USB 3.0 Ports 2 2 2
Software
Operating System Windows 8 Windows 8 Windows 8
Operating System Architecture 64-bit 64-bit 64-bit
Input Devices
Keyboard Yes Yes Yes
Pointing Device Type TouchPad TouchPad TouchPad
Battery Information
Number of Cells 4-cell 3-cell
4-cell
4-cell
Battery Chemistry Lithium Polymer (Li-Polymer) Lithium Ion (Li-Ion)
Lithium Polymer (Li-Polymer)
Lithium Polymer (Li-Polymer)
Battery Capacity 4680 mAh 2500 mAh
3790 mAh
4680 mAh
Maximum Battery Run Time 6 Hour 9.50 Hour 6 Hour
Power Description
Maximum Power Supply Wattage 65 W 65 W 65 W
Physical Characteristics
Dimensions (HxWxD) 0.46" x 12.7" x 8.8" 0.48" x 11.2" x 7.7" 0.46" x 12.7" x 8.8"
Weight (Approximate) 2.87 lb 2.69 lb 2.87 lb