Acer unveiled the Aspire S7 ultrabook to UK and European press at a touch-themed Windows 8 event at the Science Museum, Kensington, on 30 October 2012.
Following the MacBook Air template again, two models of Aspire S7 with either 11in or 13in screen were on show.
But breaking cleanly away from Apple’s much-copied ultraportable, the Acer Aspire S7 will include a touch-sensitive screen.
We took a brief look at the Acer Aspire S7-191, the 11.6in display version.
It’s a thin design, especially in the main body section, with a lid making up almost half the total thickness when closed. Acer says this model is 12.2mm thick, a figure we’ll be checking when we get a sample to review.
That lid outer looks like brushed metal, and feels relatively strong too, so even though the white body below is plastic there’s still a sense of sturdiness to the laptop’s construction.
Acer Aspire S7-191, a thin ultraportable with touch-sensitive IPS display
The display is a high-resolution IPS type, a full-HD panel of 1920 x 1080 pixels squeezed into a comparatively small 16:9 LCD. In contrast to the cheap screens that Acer has long been fitting to its notebooks, this in-plane switching panel looked to have better colour accuracy and much more usable viewing angles.
When we found Windows 8’s Desktop, we discovered on-screen Windows elements were tiny. And touch control here was very difficult because of the difficulty in pressing minute buttons with normal fingers. Not impossible, but we had to jab several times to make windows close, for instance.
Back in the interface formerly known as Metro, it was a simpler job to swipe and tap at the bigger touch-friendly tiles.
Inside the Acer Aspire S7-191 we noted an Intel Core i5-3317U processor, the entry-level 1.7GHz ultra-low voltage chip used by the 11.6in MBA and many other ultrabooks. There was 4GB of memory, and storage is said to be available as either 128GB or 256GB – and curiously, listed as RAID 0. This may be using the same trick as the Aspire S5, which striped together two smaller SSDs to increase performance.
The keyboard is backlit and has keys with very minimal travel. And the trackpad follows the MacBook example, a large and buttonless design.
Patent-pending is how Acer describes its TwinAir internal cooling system. An Acer spokesman described how air is drawn in one side at the rear by one fan,r and vented out through another fan on the other side. How this differs from an identical-sounding twin-fan setup in the 15in MacBook Pro, for example, was not explained.
To get around a new problem for Windows 8 laptops, that of the screen folding back when you attempt to touch the screen, Acer has a dual torque hinge design. We were able to open the lid from closed with one finger, and as the screen approached the vertical, friction in the hinge increased. With the display perpendicular, it was possible to touch the screen without the display folding back further.
Acer’s Oliver Ahrens (Senior Corp Vice President & President EMEA Operations) announced to the press that the 11in version was available now while the 13in version will launch in December.
That 'now' availablity may be a little optimistic. We can’t find anyone selling it anywhere right now, nor even an expected delivery date. Microsoft has a webpage that showcases various PCs running its new OS, but the best it can find for this particular laptop is ‘come back soon—we can’t wait either!’.
Acer Aspire S7-191: Specs
It’s obviously too soon to give a verdict on the Acer Aspire S7-191 since we held it in our hands for less than five minutes. When we get a sample we'll be verifying its weights and measures, its performance, and how well it straddles the divide between ‘lightweight’ and ‘flimsy’.