Acer Aspire S7-391 full review
We admired the elegant design of the original Acer Aspire S7 that we reviewed last year, and this latest laptop adds a powerful Core i7 processor to what is still a sleek Ultrabook running Microsoft Windows 8.
The first thing you notice about the S7 is how remarkably thin it is – at just 12.5mm thick it might make even an Apple MacBook Air think about going on a diet. The S7 weighs just 1.3kg which means that you can carry it around in one hand, almost like an ordinary paper notepad.
You'd be forgiven for assuming the Aspire S7 is a fragile waif, but it's well built and feels sturdy. The 13.3in touchscreen is firmly supported, and you can't help but pick up the S7 and turn it around, admiring the sheer quality of that slimline design.
The jury may be out on the usefulness of touchscreens on standard laptops (they're uncomfortable to use for anything except short periods), but the screen on the S7 responds quickly and smoothly as you flick around Windows 8's so-called Modern UI.
And even if you never lay a finger on the screen you'll still admire its full HD 1920x1080 resolution and bright, sharp image. It has good viewing angles too, so it will work equally well for watching videos as giving presentations in the office.
But, as with most laptops these days, the screen is annoyingly reflective – especially in offices with harsh overhead lighting, where it's almost like looking in a mirror at times.
Acer Aspire S7-391: keyboard and touchpad
The keyboard and touchpad are both large and comfortable to use, so you can get plenty of work done when you're on the move, and even the speakers produce a fuller sound than most laptops of this size.
The original S7 was equipped with an i5 processor – and is still on sale at a reduced price of around £999 – but this new model steps up to an i7 running at 1.9GHz (3.0GHz with Turboboost). It also has 4GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD.
The Aspire managed the rare feat of breaking the 5000 barrier in PCMark 7 – 5038 to be precise – so it'll handle most tasks without any trouble at all. It feels fast too, thanks to the SSD, which boots into the Start screen in a snappy six seconds.
The integrated graphics chip isn't ideal for gaming, though. It struggles a bit at full 1920x1080 resolution with games like Batman: Arkham City, but at 1366x768 and with low detail settings we did manage to get 31fps, which is fine for a spot of casual gaming every now and then.
The only disappointment was battery life, which we measured at four hours and twenty minutes when using Wi-Fi to stream video from BBC iPlayer. That's not bad by any means, but we've seen several Ultrabooks that can hit the five-hour mark in recent months so you do sacrifice battery life by opting for that high-power i7 processor. See also: Group test: what's the best ultraportable laptop?
Acer Aspire S7-391: Specs
- 1.9GHz Intel i7-3517U (3.0GHz Turboboost)
- Windows 8 (64-bit)
- 4GB DDR3 RAM
- 256GB SSD
- 13.3in (1366x768) glossy touchscreen LCD
- Intel HD Graphics 4000
- Bluetooth 4.0
- 1x HDMI
- 2x USB 3.0
- SDHC card slot
- headphone socket
- built-in microphone
- 2340mAh lithium-ion battery (non-removable)
- 323 x 224 x 12.5mm