The new Acer Aspire S7 looks exactly like the 2013 model, which itself looks very much like the one that debuted in 2012.
The Aspire S7 has been updated with a fifth-generation Intel Core (Broadwell) processor. The screen boasts 2,560 x 1,440 pixels, compared with the 1,920 x 1,080-pixel version of the 2013 edition.
But its other specifications evoke a sense of deja vu: 8GB of RAM, 256GB solid-state drive configured in Raid 0 for performance and an Intel Core i7 chip. Even the battery capacity - 47 watt-hour - is identical.
Of course, Acer is not the only laptop maker to upgrade the internal hardware without redesigning the chassis. Apple's MacBook Air has remained essentially unchanged for years.
Besides, the S7 looks unique for an ultrabook, a genre in which many brands have been accused of borrowing from Apple's MacBook Air.
The lid of the Acer has been covered by a layer of Gorilla Glass, way before Samsung did the same with its new Galaxy S6 smartphone. Clad in white, the S7 stands out from its rivals which come mostly with silvery aluminium bodies.
However, I would not mind a new design for the next iteration.
The reason: the edges of the S7 are sharp and dig into my palms and arms while I am typing. While the aluminium palm rest feels rigid and stable, the base of the laptop is made of plastic.
I like the strong hinge that holds up the laptop display. You can open the lid easily, but move beyond a certain angle and the resistance of the hinge increases greatly. This makes sense as the screen will not wobble as much when tapped.
It takes a while to adapt to the keyboard layout. The Function keys are merged with the number keys. The Caps Lock key and the arrow directional keys are also very small. Key travel is decent for an ultrabook.
The 2,560 x 1,440-pixel touchscreen looks clear from the sides, though colours appear slightly washed out. The colour accuracy also seems a bit off. To my naked eye, the screen appears to have a bluish tint.
Like the 2013 model, the S7 has a special Acer Converter port that works with a 3-in-1 adaptor for VGA, USB and LAN outputs. Other ports include an HDMI, two USB 3.0 and an SD card reader.
The Acer lasted 6h 33min in our video playback battery test. This was slightly longer than the Dell XPS 13 and the HP Spectre x360. All these laptops have bright, high-resolution screens that look pretty, but extract a price in battery life.
At $2,198, the S7 costs as much as the Dell XPS 13 despite having a lower-resolution display. The good news is that Acer typically discounts its laptops, so the actual retail price is probably much less.
The S7 looks a bit long in the tooth compared with its rivals' newer designs. But it is still a competent ultrabook.
Battery life 4/5
This article was first published on Apr 22, 2015.
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