Slim and sleek 2.2-pound design; Extended battery included; Very fast SSD; Blazing boot time
Poor endurance without extended battery; Relatively dim display; Limited keyboard travel
The Acer Aspire S7-191 is a very thin and light 11-inch Windows 8 Ultrabook that boasts a 1080p touch screen, fast SSD and bundled (but bulky) extended battery.
The MacBook Air has been the leading premium 11-inch ultraportable for as long as we can remember, but the Acer Aspire S7-191 ($1,199) is here to knock Apple's portable off its pedestal. What does this Ultrabook bring to the table? A sharper full HD touch screen for taking full advantage of Windows 8 inside a gorgeous 2.2-pound, 0.5-inch thick design that's thinner and lighter than the Air. Acer also bundles an extended battery. Find out if this slim machine is a cut above.
DesignS7-391 (0.47 inches thick) -- but the 11-inch Acer Aspire S7-191 is remarkably svelte and portable. This aluminum beauty weighs just 2.2 pounds, making it lighter than the 11-inch MacBook Air (2.4 pounds), as well as the Sony Vaio Duo 11 (2.8 pounds). It's even lighter than the HP Envy x2 (3.1 pounds) when that tablet is connected to its keyboard.
Even more remarkable is that the S7-191 is, at 11.2 x 7.7 x 0.5 inches, thinner than the Air (11.8 x 7.6 x 0.11-0.68 inches), and the Duo 11 (12.5 x 7.8 x 0.75 inches).
Unlike the 13-inch Aspire S7-391, which has a Gorilla Glass lid, the 11-inch S7-191's lid is made of aluminum with a cross-hatched pattern. The inside is just as sleek, with its aluminum deck looking and feeling every bit the part of a premium system. The underside is a white plastic, whereas the 13-inch version is all aluminum.
But it's not all aces: The front edge of the S7 is very sharp, making it uncomfortable to rest your wrists on the system. Acer also put the power button on the left side, a design decision we also questioned on the S7-391.
The VAIO Duo 11 also has a 1080p display; both are higher than that of the 11-inch MacBook Air, whose display resolution is 1366 x 768. While we appreciate the extra pixels, it becomes impractical when trying to use the touch screen in desktop mode. Icons are just too tiny to easily press with a finger.
The Aspire S7-101's average brightness of 147 lux failed to impress. That showing is considerably less than the category average (229 lux), and less than half that of the Duo 11 (402 lux).
Keyboard and Touchpad
In the interest of space, there's no Function row: Acer combined those keys with the number row at the top of the keyboard. We didn't miss them, but would prefer to see dedicated volume controls.
Included is Dolby Home Theater 4.0 software, which lets you tweak equalizer and sound profiles. This utility is only available in the desktop interface, though, not via the Modern UI.
After streaming a Hulu video for 15 minutes at full screen, the middle of the Aspire S7-191's touchpad measured 84 degrees Fahrenheit, the space between the G and H keys was 82 degrees, and the middle of the underside was 88 degrees. All areas were well below what we consider uncomfortable - 95 degrees. However, the rear of the bottom was a hot 100 degrees.
The 1.7-GHz Intel Core i5-3317U processor in the Aspire S7-191 is used in nearly all of the ultraportables we've tested recently. However, Acer also includes a 128GB SSD and 4GB of RAM in the S7, which helped to boost its performance numbers.
The Aspire S7-191's 128GB SSD booted Windows 8 in a blinding eight seconds. That's five seconds faster than the Duo 11, and more than 25 seconds faster than the average. The S7's SSD completed the LAPTOP File Transfer Test (duplicating 4.97GB of multimedia files) in 26 seconds, for a rate of 195.7 MBps. That's more than 100MBps faster than average (75 MBps), and crushes the Duo 11 (145MBps) and the 2011 MacBook Air (78 MBps).
Less impressive was the S7-191's performance on our spreadsheet test. The notebook took 6 minutes and 11 seconds to match 20,000 names and addresses in OpenOffice. This time was a minute faster than average (7:14), but twice as long as the Duo 11 (3:00).
The integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics in the Aspire S7-191 is suitable for everyday tasks, but playing even moderately intensive games may pose a problem. On our "World of Warcraft" test, the S7-191 averaged just 28 frames per second with the resolution set to 1366 x 768, and the effects level on Good. That's significantly below the average (44 fps), but on a par with the Duo 11 (31 fps). When we changed the resolution to its native 1920 x 1080, the S7's frame rate barely budged, to 27 fps.
However, when we increased the effects level to max, it plummeted to just 13 fps, the same as the Duo 11.
On the synthetic 3DMark11 benchmark, the S7-191's score of 608 is on a par with the Duo 11 (615), but well below the category average of 750.
Strap on the extra battery, and the S7-191's endurance jumps to a more tolerable 6:41. We appreciate the additional runtime the extended battery provides, but it makes the notebook less attractive.
However, we wish Acer included its Acer Ring utility on its touch-screen notebooks, as it does with its tablets. This software makes it easy to access your favorite apps, documents, photos and more without having to return to the Start screen.
|CPU||1.7-GHz Intel Core i5-3317U|
|Operating System||Windows 8|
|RAM Upgradable to||4GB|
|Hard Drive Size||128GB|
|Hard Drive Speed||n/a|
|Hard Drive Type||SSD Drive|
|Optical Drive Speed||n/a|
|Graphics Card||Intel Graphics HD 4000|
|Touchpad Size||3.6 x 2.2 inches|
|Ports (excluding USB)||micro HDMI|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Headphone|
|Size||11.2 x 7.7 x 0.5 inches|