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Acer S7 Ultrabook with Windows 8 and its killer 1080p display

We’re breaking out of our normal confines of phones for a quick post on the Acer S7 Touchscreen ultrabook running Windows 8. Why? Because we bought one last night and we’ll be damned if it isn’t kind of awesome.

So if you’re curious about this little ditty and what I think, head past the break for a few photos and quick video review of this super premium piece of technology.

The Acer S7 is actually a refresh of the S7 from last year but it now sports some upgraded Intel internals (3rd generation i5 or i7, depending on version) and a Touchscreen to take advantage of Windows 8.  But the real gem of this ultrabook (besides its size) is the outstanding 1080x1920 resolution screen. The size of the display is 13.3” making the ppi 161 and with IPS and Gorilla Glass on board, it’s a lot nicer looking than our MacBook Air or Lenovo T420S.

The Acer S7 is also built extremely well with a solid body and a great hinge for the display (it tightens the further back you go so it doesn’t change position when tapping it). The weight comes in at a comfortable 2.9lbs making it quite light and the power-brick is surprisingly nimble as well. That means tossing it in our bag for the day isn’t something I’d regret.


The Acer S7 can do splits for you

The version of the S7 I bought came from a Microsoft Store (highly recommended as you get their Signature service) and it sports an Intel i5 1.7GHz CPU, 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. That’ll cost you about $1300 and it is certainly not cheap.

If you need more, you can opt for the Intel i7 1.9GHz version that also double storage to 256GB. That’ll throw on another $350 though, making it a costly upgrade. So far, Windows 8 64-bit hums just nicely at 1.7GHz and don’t see the need for anything more. It also has 2 USB 3.0 ports, SD media slot, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi and a micro HDMI out port. Acer were also feeling nice by tossing in a slick leather sleeve and a Bluetooth mouse, all laid out in a nicely designed package.


1080P IPS display at 13.3"? Yes please.

The keyboard is also quite good, though some have rightly complained that “travel” is less than desired and I agree. But in regular usage, I’ve had little issue when actually typing on it.  The laptop can get warm on the bottom, but compared to a MacBook Air it’s a cool breezy day (did anyone ever tell Apple that metal conducts heat?). Speaking of audio, the Acer crushes the MacBook Air in terms of audio—it’s not even a fair competition with the rich, more bassy sound from the Acer.

Look, there’s little debate here that Acer borrowed heavily, ahem, from Apple’s MacBook Air but honestly, they’ve taken that inspiration and went further with it. You get better speakers, higher resolution touchscreen display, fast processor and of course Windows 8.  It’s not a perfect device but it has made me smitten with it.

Battery life? Can’t really speak to it just yet. Ars Technica rated it terrible but Cnet says otherwise. So far it seems quite okay to us.

If you’re looking for a new ultrabook this year or next, you should take a look at the Acer S7 as it is quite the looker. Head to the Microsoft Store for more information.

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Reader comments

Acer S7 Ultrabook with Windows 8 and its killer 1080p display

82 Comments

I genuinely mean this....
I really hope Acer has fixed the poor quality issue that they have had for the last 7 years or so. 
Working in IT I can honestly say that Acer computers have been the bane of my existence for my technicians and myself. 
I saw one of these bad boys a few weeks back and I was so impressed with it but I just couldn't pull the trigger. I've been burned to many times by them.

That's odd.  I'm an IT consultant, and I'm by no means saying what you report isn't true, but I've had the opposite experience.  After suffering for years from Dell's dismal failures and design weirdness, I switched to Acer and have been very pleased.  For a couple of years, I used a netbook for my wandering support needs, both onsight in large offices and offsight in private homes and small clinics, and it served me well, if a little slow.  But the portability made up for it.
Later, I upgraded to an Acer Aspire One AO522 with a dual core AMD C-50, 720p screen, and I souped it up with a 120GB SSD and 4GB of RAM.  It still works wonderfully after 2 years of being carted around in my bag, bouncing around in my Jeep, and many a late night at various offices working on issues.
I recently upgraded to a Acer Aspire V5-171-6422 with 11.6" 768 screen, Core i5 pocessor, 4GB of RAM, USB 3.0, and a 500GB HDD.  Super happy with it.  I just bought a Samsung 840 160GB SSD to go in it soon.
I also outfitted the outside sales reps for one of my clients last year with Acer AO722 netbooks.  Seven of them in the field daily and so far they have all performed very well.
At this point, I'd have to say I'm a fan of Acer.  While the S7 is one sexy beast, I really can't justify the coin for my needs.  As much as I'd like to pretend otherwise, my day-to-day tasks just don't require an investment like that.  Besides, I'll wait a year and they'll have something with similar specs for less than $700 most likley.

Warning about Acer and MS Store (online):
 
I'm 50/50 with Acer. I had one of their first tabletpcs in 2003 and was happy with it. I bought this Acer Aspire S7 i5 and out of the box 2 weeks ago it had a dead trackpad. To make matters worse, I bought it from the online Microsoft Store and I'm still trying to get my RMA shipping label to send the dang thing back. My faith in both Acer and MS store is pretty much shot at this point. I've made something like 6 calls to customer service over nearly 2 weeks and each time I've been reassured that the UPS label has been emailed to me, but nothing ever turns up. Tripled checked emails; sent alternate addresses. I'm pretty sure I'm headed for a 7th call if I don't get a RMA sticker in the e-mail by tomorrow (which at this point seems unlikely). Why MS Store doesn't have a self-service RMA process is beyond me in 2012.
Be warned If you have to return anything to MS store. The customer service people have been nice and entirely unhelpful. I'm now left holding on to a $1400 defective ultrabook.

According to the fine print you can't return something bought at a MS online store to a retail store, but at this rate I may have to pester them about doing that. I don't know that I'm confident that they wouldn't find some way of mucking that up and it's not exactly convenient for me to get to one even though there's one relatively near me.
The kicker is that every time I call someone says it'll take 48-72 hours to process - weekends excluded - that's just crazy for online retailing. I can't think of any online retailer where I've had to do a return that was this excrutiatingly slow and painful. MS still has a lot to learn about selling direct in my experience.

He means "scream" literally. The AMD chips contain small hamsters running in wheels... When they have to run too fast they start screaming. It sounds like a high-pitched whine coming out of the PC ;) But seriously, has AMD put out anything noteworthy in 7 years?

Got a C60 in my Acer netbook. I'm running Windows 8 Hyper-V on it. Try that with an Intel netbook-class processor.

If anyone has seen the AMD APU series of processors, you would know they are perfect for this type of PC. You get an amazing amount of performance in the video department compared to Intel.

re: battery life, Ars set the brightness at 100%. CNET set the brightness at 70 nits. if someone's worried about battery life, they're not going to have the screen at 100% brightness. anything over 5 hours for a touchscreen laptop is competitive.
and yeah,I've seen it in person. it's gorgeous

Good point. I hate my screen bright, especially typing, so I end up keeping it at <50% for reading/writing/surfing. Maybe higher for a quick video.

I like the build and the design but i personally tought the hinge to be to loose so that it wobbles too much, almost tilts the laptop when using the touchscreen. Also ive learned workin with computers for some years. Acer aint quality. Yet.

What's up with these beautiful, high tech machines with absolutely no hard drive space. I feel as if the coat should be 1/3 to 1/4 of what it is currently due to this. Cloud storage is not the same either.

SSD.  Some would argue, myself included, that the benefits of an SSD at 128gb far outweigh a HDD with more storage.

Yup and depends on usage. For myself when I travel, do live blogs, manage the site...basically everything, 128GB is fine. I do have an external HDD just in case, but rarely use it.

I personnaly like that wpcentral covers more of the Windows ecosystem, instead of only phones and if the author likes to post it on the site than that's good for the people who wants to read it, if you don't you can skip it.

Read the first paragraph. 
 
This site is over 90% WP related. Very rarely do they do anything that isn't Smartphone related, however, around the time Surface launched they said that they are going to start covering more MS products outside of the phone world because W8 (Not WP8) compliments the Windows Phone ecosystem and vice versa. 
 
Future recommendation.... don't click on these articles since you don't appear to be interested in them, in addition to that you probably don't need to comment in them if they aren't very constructive. 

Same here, the design quality of the Windows 8 tablets and laptops seems to moving higher at a tremendous rate. Learned something new, enjoy Daniel.

Nice piece indeed! I got my HP Envy x2 2 days ago and I love it. Windows 8 rocks on those new gadgets.

Really? That's not how I saw it. I personally played with this ultrabook at the Microsoft store and I agree with this article 100%.

Really slick looking machine! Thanks for the mini review. These touchscreen ultrabooks are much better than I expected. I have a Surface RT but wanted to upgrade to a full Windows 8 Pro machine. I had my heart set on the Surface Pro but now I don't know with all these choices!

Too bad it's not 15". Will be in a market for a good 15" touch screen W8 laptop. Finally getting rid of my macbook pro.

I do agree with this...15" reall is the sweet spot but alas "ultrabooks" I believe are defined as 13" or less. Of course there's no reason not to have a super slim version of this device at 15"...that would be ideal.

I'm so sick of this aluminum macbook look everyone is doing.  Please can't anyone make a slick laptop like the S7 in all black?  

Samsung will probably release a touch version of their series 9 ultrabooks which should please you. Those are some sleek, black machines! I'd love a 15" Samsung touch Series 9.

Wow.  I love everything about this!  Great review, I can tell you're enthusiastic which is awesome to be able to see in a video review.   Congrats on your new Windows 8 (touchbook?), I hope you enjoy it! :)

i might have already bought this if it was available with 8gb of RAM.  i like to keep my laptops a long time, so i want to buy one that's reasonably future proof.  i think im gonna wait for wireless ac laptops, which should be soon.  my first gen macbook from 2006 is just too old to run the newest of programs, particularly the windows phone connector software..

Daniel, after seeing your tweet about this machine, I suspected you may do a review here. I'm glad you did, I saw one of these at the Microsoft store when I went to pick up my Lumia 920 and I almost bought one. I held back cos I'm waiting for the next gen intel processors before I upgrade my laptop.

It was because of Chris's tweet I went and checked it out ;)

I live down the street from an MS Store so I figured I'd go decide for myself. He wasnt wrong.

Acer claims they are trying to get rid of the "peice of crap" label they have had lately but at least for me it will take a few years of quality products before I change my mind.
 
I bought a Lenovo Yoga 13 when it came out a month or so ago and I'm not sure I would be comfortable with a 1920x1080 screen. The Lenovo is 1600x900 and I find the text on the desktop to be about as small as I would want, even a little too small somtimes.
 
Of course you can use DPI scaling and that works pretty well but some programs don't handle it correctly.
 
Hope your lappy works and lasts well... I cross my fingers that we don't see a review in 3-6 months time about your RMA experiences.

Was debating whether to get this in the 11.6" version or get an Acer w700 tablet. Both are fine powerful devices. Went with the Surface instead. RT think will meet my needs just fine.

Not a huge fan of Dell and that device is heavier with a slightly smaller display. Plus the MS Store didn't have one on display (actually, their selection was more limited than I would have expected).

I only buy PC/Laptops now through MS--I like the support better and the "no BS" OS with no crapware installed--it's just a better experience and if something goes wrong, I just drive down the street.

I see. Now that I think of it I bought the Dell XPS 12 Duo based on availability in my country so not much different criteria :) I wouldn't have settled for 4GB of RAM though. I may have desktop machines for work but with $40 price for 4GB of RAM it is a crime that OEMs don't put 8 gigs in these machines.

I can confirm buying a laptop or anything from the Microsoft Store rocks. And I hate Daniel for having this before I do. 

After seeing the colossal failure that was my sister's fiance's laptop (an Acer), I can say I'd likely stay far away form them forever. Add in that the thing is a light color and looks like an Apple device, and I'm out. I hate light colors on my electronics. I made an exception for my Zune HD because it's ACTUALLY silver (rather than white), the back is metal, and the 32 GB all came in silver (got my Zune HD for Christmas last year, well after they were discontinued and the customization from MS was available).
 
Nice internals and all, but I can't stand Acer or the look of that thing. If I get another portable computing device, it will likely be a Surface Pro or a Lenovo Yoga (another device that is lighter than I like but not as light as this). Honestly though, what makes this better than a $300-less Yoga, beyond the display?

I'm waiting for one with more storage and at least a 14" screen, and a less shallow keyboard would be nice as well. If anyone is looking for a touchscreen laptop that's a bit cheaper, the Acer M5 is a pretty sweet deal. The screen isn't as good, and it's heavier/thicker, but it does have an optical disc drive for those who still want one (myself included) and it's still pretty small. I just wish it had dedicated graphics and a better screen, but I think I'm asking for a bit too much.

Daniel, do you buy a lot of movies from Xbox video? Just wondering which do you prefer, bluray or digital?

I don't even own a Bluray player :P  I mean, I'm okay with BR, but to me physical media is dead, dead, dead,  I've only bought 3 movies from Xbox Video (Drive, Warrior and the last Batman) and I really enoy the experience (besides the Windows Phone limitation, ahem).

I'd rather rent or stream my media than buying movies though...only a very few get into that category.

Daniel - thanks for the review - nice looking ultrabook.
Hows the performance vs your macbook (air)?
How much HDD space was left when you first turned on the machine?

It's as fast if not faster than the MBA...leaning towards the faster aspect mainly due to the SSD RAID layout. Regarding HDD space, yeah that's a PITA with MS as I *believe* it was around 90GB but I honestly didn't look before I started everything. But it's less than 128GB obviously--Apple is a bit more truthful in that regard, I believe.

We now have two touch-screen Windows 8 ultrabooks at home - An HP envy ($599 on sale from besy buy) and an Asus Vivobook ($600-ish from ebay after people bought on black friday). Both are excellent - our plan is to turn them over in 12 months and buy whatever is new at the time.
Love Windows 8 and it complements the 920 very nicely. I have been showing my gf the virtues of skydrive, Office web etc. Unfortunately not everyone lives with a Nokia / MS fanboy, but she tells everyone at work how cool it is and is spreading the cheer.

That hack of editor @ Ars reviewed this machine and many others Windows 8 PCs with full screen brightness. He is doing it on purpose.

That puppy is fast Daniel.  I thought IT was an I7 but its an I5??  Wowl. I could live with that.

I can't justify the price of this for the RAM/battery life. And I feel like there should be an extra row of keys on there. Dedicated F keys maybe. It looks too bare for my tastes.

<p>Volume, bright, search, devices, share, options,...</p>
<p>Without them this computer is useless</p>
<p>&nbsp;</p>

Its a smart bit of kit, although I'm more in the market for a big screen gaming laptop with a discrete graphics card myself.
One thing to add though about the battery life, I suspect a lot of these review sites get it new out of the box, charge it up once and then make their decision, while giving it a few proper charges to 100% and draining it back to zero seems to make a world of difference.

I have the same laptop for about 2 weeks. I too am highly impressed. There are 2 major dings for me. The track pad is not centered on the palm rest. I have big hands, so my left hand feels squished and I have to tuck my thumb in when typing so I don't hit the track pad.

Secondly, the fan noise is really really loud. It seems to spin up randomly, not due to a heavy work load, and when it does, it sounds like a jet engine....to the point that I can't be in my office and have a meeting. It's a real problem.

But oh that screen is stunning and just sucks me in.

Daniel, just yesterday embedded youtube videos (like the one in this article) stopped working for me in Desktop IE10 for Win8 (strangely they do work in Metro IE10). Does your shiney new computer show them without problem?
I'm starting to get paranoid that google is intentionally breaking things to frustrate Microsoft users...