The Acer Aspire S7 is probably one of the few ultrabooks that does not look anything like a Windows variation of the Apple MacBook Air.
It has a Gorilla Glass lid and the slim metallic chassis does not attempt to mimic the Air's tapered design. Despite measuring just 13mm thin, the laptop feels solid.
None of this is news to you if you have used the S7 last year. The chassis and design is almost identical in the 2013 version, but the hardware has been upgraded to include the latest Intel Haswell processor.
I was expecting a shallow keyboard, but it turned out to be better than the previous version.
It also has a green backlight that is soothing to the eyes.
Like the 2012 model, Acer has omitted the top row of Function keys, combining them instead with the numeric keys. It is a change that took some time to get used to.
With its excellent viewing angles, the full high-definition touchscreen is as good as those on premium tablets.
The hinge holding the screen is designed to be strong enough that tapping heavily on the touchscreen will cause it to only wobble slightly, but not fall backwards.
The Aspire S7 runs quietly for basic tasks such as Web browsing or video playback. But it can get very warm when running applications such as Flash-based games. On these occasions, it becomes uncomfortable to use the S7 on the lap.
An addition to this year's S7 is a connector that looks like a mini-DisplayPort, but it is actually a proprietary connector called the Acer Converter port. The company promises to have VGA, USB or ethernet adaptors that utilise this port, although only an adaptor for VGA output is included with this unit. Also bundled is a USB to ethernet adaptor.
With its 256GB solid-state drive, apps loaded quickly on this ultrabook. System performance - a benchmark test PCMark 7 score of 5,127 - was also within expectations. Like most ultrabooks, the integrated graphics chip in the S7 is strictly for casual gaming.
More importantly, the battery life is good - just minutes shy of seven hours.
At $2,298, the Aspire S7 is slightly more affordable than the Sony Vaio Pro 13 ($2,499).
A similarly configured Apple MacBook Air would cost $2,138 and has better battery life than the S7.
But the Air has an inferior screen and lacks touch support. You may also have to add the cost of the Windows operating system for the Air if you are using Boot Camp or virtualisation programs such as Parallels for Mac.
The latest version of the S7 has better battery life than its predecessor. It also shows that Acer can make good premium laptops besides its usual bread-and-butter models.
Processor: Intel Core i7-4500U (1.8GHz)
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4400
Screen size: 13.3 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels
Connectivity: HDMI, Acer converter port, 2 x USB 3.0, SD card reader
Value for money: 3
Battery life: 5
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