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New It Devices

Acer Aspire S7

Still as sexy as ever, the all-white Acer Aspire S7-392-6807, whose lid is covered in Corning’s Gorilla Glass 2, screams premium. Sharp-straight edges line the aluminum unibody, and a silver, straw-width hinge houses two subtle indicator lights for power and battery. A metallic-gray Acer logo sits on the lid and lights up when the computer is on.

 

Under the lid is a silver deck that houses a matte-silver Chiclet-style keyboard, and a rectangular touchpad with rounded corners sits below. The glossy, 13.3-inch display is protected by Gorilla Glass, lending it an air of class and security. On the white bottom of the notebook, a vent runs horizontally along the back, while two speakers sit on either side, closer to the front.

Oddly, the S7’s power button is on the left edge, next to the power jack, which Acer says prevents accidental pressing and makes it easier to find. We would have preferred it on the deck for easier access, but at least it won’t turn on the computer until the lid is open, preventing accidental startups.

At 12.72 x 8.78 x 0.51 inches and 3.0 pounds, the new Aspire S7 has the same barely-there profile as its predecessor. It’s smaller and heavier than Asus’ Zenbook UX301 (12.8 x 8.8 x 0.6 inches, 2.6 pounds), but somewhat bigger and lighter than the MacBook Pro 13-inch with Retina display (12.35 x 8.62 x 0.71 inches, 3.46 pounds) and Samsung’s ATIV Book 9 Plus (12.6 x 8.8 x 0.54 inches, 3.2 pounds).

Display

Acer Aspire S7 (2014) DisplayAcer bumped up the S7’s 13-inch IPS display to WQHD (2560 x 1440 pixels), and the result is a stunning <a href=”http://www.jasminlive.us”>jasminlive</a> visual experience. On a 1080p trailer of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” individual strands of Scarlett Johansson’s auburn hair and scratches on Captain America’s shield looked crisp.

Colors were also vivid; we enjoyed the bright greens of foliage in wide shots and light gray of Steve Rogers’ eyes. Viewing angles were ample, but images washed out a tad when we tilted the screen till it lay completely flat.

The S7 packs the same resolution as the Zenbook UX301 (2560 x 1440p), but it’s not as sharp as the MacBook Pro (2560 x 1600p) and the ATIV Book 9 (3200 x 1800p).

Probably due to the higher resolution, text in windows and websites such as Laptopmag.com and NYTimes.com had pixelated edges.

Registering 276 lux on our brightness meter, the Aspire S7 is brighter than the ultraportable average (250 lux) and the ATIV Book 9 Plus (251 lux) but dimmer than the Zenbook UX301 (368 lux) and the MacBook Pro 13-inch with Retina display (340 lux).

The 10-point touch screen on the S7 was responsive and sturdy, budging only slightly to our jabbing fingers, thanks to the right hinge. Windows 8 gestures — such as pinch to zoom and swiping back and forth — worked quickly, and we easily swiped in from edges to switch between open apps.
Audio

The Dolby Home Theater speakers on the underside of the Aspire S7 provided booming but tinny sound. We didn’t enjoy the canned quality of Lady Gaga’s voice and the instruments on “Do What U Want,” but the music easily filled a small office.

You can adjust sound profiles on the S7 with the included Dolby Digital Plus software,which unfortunately is hidden in the desktop file explorer. Digital Plus lets you select from Movie,Music,Game,Voice and two custom audio modes to adjust how your music filters out.

We found Movie and Game modes delivered somewhat better sound for songs such as “Do What U Want” and “Royals” by Lorde, but the audio had a metallic echo. Music mode delivered a more enjoyable experience, even on the more nuanced opening music for the “League of Legends” game launcher.

On Laptop Mag’s audio test (playing a tone and measuring from 23 inches), the S7 notched 82 decibels, slightly lower than the ultraportable average (84 db). However, it did outdo the Zenbook (80 dB).
Keyboard and Touchpad

Acer Aspire S7 (2014)Acer added 0.3mm (0.01 inches) of key-travel distance to the new S7, making the black-on-silver island keyboard more comfortable to type on. We still wish the keyboard offered more depth, but given its sleek aesthetic, this is a minor trade-off. On the Ten Thumbs Typing Tutor test, we scored an average of 85.2 words per minute with a 1.6 percent error rate, which is better than our desktop average of 77 wpm (no errors). The keyboard also features adjustable LED backlighting, which was bright and even.

Our biggest bone to pick with the layout on the S7 is the odd key placement. Buttons to quickly toggle the volume, font size, display brightness and connectivity are on the second (QWERTY) row, and you activate them by pressing the Fn and relevant key. The top line lets you switch between numbers, symbols and functions. We also don’t like that the tilde button sits next to the Caps Lock, and that the latter has been reduced to a pinkie-size segment.

The 4.25 x 2.5-inch touchpad is spacious and proved responsive when we performed Windows 8 gestures such as two-finger scrolling and pinch to zoom. Only the bottom half of the touchpad can be depressed to trigger clicks; pressing the bottom-right corner activates a right click, while the left side results in a regular click.
Heat

Just as on its predecessor, the new Aspire S7 comes with a cooling system called TwinAir that uses two small, high-speed fans — one pulls in cool air, while the other expels hot air.

For the most part, this technology was effective. After 15 minutes of streaming a full-screen Hulu video, the laptop’s touchpad measured a cool 81 degrees Fahrenheit, while the space between the G and H keys hit 85 degrees. That’s about the same as theĀ <a href=”http://www.streamate.biz”>streamate</a> ultraportable category averages of 79 degrees (touchpad) and 84 degrees (G and H keys). We find temperatures below 95 degrees to be comfortable.

However, the S7 reached 102 degrees on its underside, just below the vent. While that’s not scorching, we didn’t want to keep the system on our lap for extended periods of time.
Webcam and Ports

Acer Aspire S7 (2014)With its 720p webcam, the Aspire S7 took grainy but accurately colored pictures. The lime-green headphones and multicolored iPhone case in our selfie retained vibrant hues, but we saw significant noise on our face.

The Aspire S7 packs plenty of connectivity options, including an HDMI-out port with HDCP support, an Acer Converter Port (which can be used with an adapter to support miniDisplay) and two USB 3.0 ports for faster media transfer. The USB port on the right side even supports power-off charging so you can juice up your other devices without having to turn on your laptop.
Performance

Acer Aspire S7 (2014)Packing a 1.6-GHz Intel Core i5-4200U Haswell CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 128GB solid-state drive (SSD), the Aspire S7 is a speedy device for daily tasks. We smoothly typed a Google Doc while streaming an episode of “American Dad” on Netflix and installing the “League of Legends” client in the background.

On synthetic benchmarks, the S7 delivered above-average results, but fell short of some of its competitors. The Ultrabook’s PCMark 7 score of 4,755 is better than the ultraportable average (4,033), but not the 2.8-GHz Intel Core i7-powered ASUS Zenbook (5,838) and the ATIV Book 9 Plus (5,017). The ATIV Book 9 Plus sports the same CPU as the S7, but with 4GB of RAM.

The Aspire S7 did better on Geekbench 3, scoring 5,101 to beat the average ultraportable (4,473) and the ATIV Book 9 Plus (5,077). It still trailed the Zenbook (6,862) and the MacBook Pro (6,294).

The 128GB SSD in the S7 booted in a mere 6 seconds. That’s less than half the time it took theĀ <a href=”http://www.mytrannycams.tv”>mytrannycams</a> average ultraportable (15 seconds), and significantly faster than the MacBook Pro (12 seconds), the Zenbook (12 seconds) and the ATIV Book 9 Plus (11 seconds).