Acer Aspire V7 Review

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Pros: Impressive battery life; Responsive keyboard and touch screen; Fast boot time

Cons: Low-res screen; Pricey; Power button hard to find

Verdict: Acer's new 15-inch touch-screen Ultrabook offers stellar battery life at $849, but its graphics and screen resolution won't wow users.

Acer's Aspire V7-582P-6673 is a slim, multitouch-enabled laptop that packs all of the core functionality of Windows 8 with one of the strongest battery-life ratings in its category. However, with below-average performance and graphic capabilities, the 15-inch V7 isn't the most optimal device for watching hi-res videos and playing games. The Aspire V7 is a satisfactory Ultrabook for casual use in the home, but is it worth its $849 price tag?

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Design

Despite a few questionable design decisions, the V7 has a sleek and simple overall look that makes it appropriate for both work and play.

The laptop's aluminum chassis opens up to reveal a single-panel body of the same makeup, with a cold steel hue covering both the exterior and main body. The V7's main panel contains a slightly recessed set of black, island-style keys and a black underside.

The V7's awkward power-button placement weakens an otherwise solid look, as the button rests next to a USB 2.0 port on the left side and blends in with the laptop's black bottom.

At 4.85 lbs. and 15.02 x 10.08 x 0.79 inches, the Aspire V7 is slightly wider, but thinner and lighter, than the 5-lb. Sony VAIO T Series 15 (14.9 x 10 x 0.9 inches). The Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5277 (14.9 x 9.6 x 1.2 inches, 5.4 lbs.) is bulkier than both.

 

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Display

The Aspire V7 packs a 15.6-inch display complete with 10-finger multitouch capabilities. Although the 1366 x 768-pixel V7 lacks the sharp resolution of the 1920 x 1080p VAIO T Series 15, it produces clear and colorful images.

Every detail of the "Thor: The Dark World" trailer was presented vividly, from the war-torn facial features of Natalie Portman's character to the abundance of crumbling mountains and buildings. Thor's rich, red cape came through the screen clearly, as did the bright-orange explosions of the action scenes. The V7's LED-backlit screen held up well when we watched the trailer at a roughly 70-degree viewing angle, making it a reliable device for watching videos with friends on the couch.

While the Ultrabook's screen is good enough for casual streaming, it could benefit from better brightness. The V7 produced an average lux rating of 165, which is higher than the S55t's 115 lux rating but almost half the VAIO T Series 15's score of 319 lux and below the mainstream laptop brightness category average of 200 lux.

The V7's touch screen is easy to use and responsive; we were able to navigate through both the touch-friendly Windows 8 layout and classic desktop with just a few simple swipes and pinches. When using Microsoft Paint on the V7, we had no problem drawing with 10 fingers at once.

 

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Audio

With four stereo speakers on the V7's underside, the rattling hi-hat and beefy guitars of Blink 182's "Up All Night" came through clearly on max volume, as did the rich electric bass of Capital Cities' "Safe and Sound."

Despite the respectable volume and sound quality, the bottom-facing speakers on the V7 became muffled when we placed the notebook on our bed while playing music.

The V7 comes stocked with Dolby Home Theater v4 audio enhancement, which allows you to edit and store various EQ settings for music, movies and games.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The V7 sports a generous backlit island-style keyboard and a full number pad. The Aspire V7's keys were well spaced and responsive, providing crisp feedback, but were somewhat shallow. As a result, we scored 63 words per minute with a 3 percent error rate on the V7 using the Ten Thumbs Typing test, which is lower than our average of 76 wpm.

The V7's 4.2 x 3.1-inch touchpad provided smooth, accurate navigation around the desktop. We had no problem scrolling, swiping between programs and pinching to zoom on the device, though the sensitive touchpad registered a few accidental clicks when we browsed the Web on standard settings.

 

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Ports and Webcam

A headphone jack, SD card port and USB 2.0 port sit on the right side of the laptop, while the back of the body houses an AC jack, Kensington lock slot, HDMI port, Ethernet port and one USB 3.0 port with an additional 2.0 port. As with many systems this thin, the V7 lacks an optical drive.

The V7's 1280 x 720 webcam produced dark, pixelated images, even in the fully lit LAPTOP offices. The videos we took were equally fuzzy, as our purple shirt looked muted and our office lights created significant blur. However, if you only plan on using your webcam for video chatting, the Aspire V7 is serviceable enough.

Heat

Most areas of the V7 never got uncomfortably hot: The laptop's touchpad reached a high of 76 degrees Fahrenheit after we played 15 minutes of 1080p video on Hulu. The laptop's keyboard got as hot as 83 degrees, and the underside went up to 81 degrees. The only area that got hotter than our 95-degree comfort zone was the back of the underside, near the Ethernet port and fan, which reached 97 degrees.

Performance

Our Aspire V7 review unit was powered by a 1.6-GHz Intel Core i5-4200U, 8GB of RAM, and a 5,400-rpm, 500GB SATA hard drive with a 20 GB Flash cache and an Intel HD Graphics 4400 card. We saw no slowdowns during our real-world testing, which consisted of browsing 12 tabs on Chrome, streaming "The Avengers" on Netflix and performing a Norton PC checkup.

Acer's V7 Ultrabook scored 4,266 on PCMark 7, which measures overall hardware performance. The V7 scored slightly lower than the Satellite S55t and its 2.4-GHz quad-core Intel Core i7-4700MQ processor (4,842) and the VAIO T Series 15 with a 2-GHz Intel Core i7-3537U processor (4,409). Still, the V7 sits significantly higher than the PCMark 7 category average of 3,055.

The Aspire V7 started Windows 8 in a fast 14 seconds, which is just a second behind the Satellite S55t's 13 seconds and much quicker than the VAIO T Series 15's 36 seconds and the category average of 38 seconds.

When running the LAPTOP File Transfer Test, the V7 was able to copy 4.97GB of mixed media files in 2 minutes and 34 seconds, resulting in a transfer rate of 33.1 MBps. The Acer laptop transferred files slightly faster than both the Satellite S55t (29.5 MBps) and VAIO T Series 15 (29 MBps), though it still couldn't measure up to the category average of 41 MBps.

At 5 minutes and 23 seconds, the Aspire V7 performed slightly faster than the 5:44 category average on our OpenOffice Spreadsheet test, which involves performing a VLOOKUP operation on 20,000 rows in OpenOffice Calc. However, the V7 was a full minute slower than the Satellite S55t (4:23) and not as quick as the VAIO T Series 15 (4:50).

Graphics

While the Aspire V7 works well enough for video streaming, you won't want to play high-end PC games on it. With its integrated Intel HD Graphics 4400 processor, the V7 only scored a 958 on the 3DMark11 graphics test, which is only a fraction of what the Satellite S55t and its NVIDIA GeForce 740M card with Optimus scored (1,987) and below the category-average score of 1,348. However, the V7 outperformed the VAIO T Series 15 and its Intel HD Graphics 4000 card, which notched just 629 on the same test.

The V7 ran "World of Warcraft" at 45 frames per second on Autodetect at 1366 x 768, which is playable and better than the VAIO T Series 15's 34 fps but less than half of the Satellite S55t's 92 fps and far lower than the mainstream laptop category average of 74 fps.

The game was bogged down to just 23 fps when we played it on the Ultra graphics setting, which is far choppier than the Satellite S55t's relatively smooth 54 fps and the category average of 38 fps. Just as it did on Autodetect, the V7 slightly edged out the VAIO T Series 15's 18 fps on Ultra mode.

 

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Battery Life

Despite falling short in the graphics department, the Acer Aspire V7 absolutely shatters the competition when it comes to endurance. Its 3,560 mAh 4-cell Li-polymer battery lasted 8 hours and 13 minutes on the LAPTOP Battery Test (Web surfing via Wi-Fi). That's nearly double the battery life on the Satellite S55t and VAIO T Series 15, which lasted only 4:20 and 4:21, respectively, and far better than the 5:30 category average.

Software/Warranty

Acer has included a variety of its own Windows 8 apps with the V7, including the Acer Cloud storage application and Acer Crystal Eye, which allows you to take photos and videos with the webcam while adding Instagram-like filters. The built-in Acer Explorer acts as a central hub for your software -- complete with tutorials -- though we're not sure why users would want to use it to access programs that are already on the Windows 8 Start screen.

Aside from Acer's offerings, the Ultrabook is preloaded with third-party apps such as Amazon Kindle, newsXpresso, Social Jogger, Magix Music Maker Jam, Netflix and Skype.

Acer offers a one-year international travelers limited warranty to those who purchase the Aspire V7.

 

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Configurations

At $849, our configuration of the Acer Aspire V7-582P-6673 includes a 1.6-GHz Intel Core i5-4200U processor with 8GB of RAM, an Intel HD Graphics 4400 card with 128MB of VRAM and a 500GB hard drive with a 20GB Flash cache.

The $999 582PG-9856 configuration packs a 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-4500U processor with 8GB of RAM, an NVIDIA GeForce GT 720M graphics card with 2GB of VRAM and a 500GB hard drive with a 20GB Flash cache. Lastly, the $1,299 482PG-9884 configuration will also get you the i7-4500U processor but with 12GB of RAM, an NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M graphics card with 4GB of VRAM and a 1TB hard drive with dual-hard-drive support.

Verdict

For $849, the Acer Aspire V7 provides users with a responsive multitouch screen, loud and crisp speakers, and a battery life that will last through a workday and beyond. However, the Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5277 provides a quality gaming experience for only $140 more, and the Sony VAIO T Series 15 offers a far superior 1920 x 1080 display and 250GB more hard-drive space with the same starting price.

While the Aspire V7 is an attractive laptop that can handle long hours of everyday Web browsing, it lacks any crucial selling points, and its excellent battery life is offset by its heftiness. You'd be better off picking up Acer's $699 Aspire M5-583P-6428 if you just need everyday functionality, or splurge $1,499 for the company's stellar Aspire S7 for great graphics and performance.

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Laptop Mag & Tom's Hardware
CPU 1.6-GHz Intel Core i5-4200U
Operating System Windows 8
RAM 8GB
RAM Upgradable to 12GB
Hard Drive Size 500GB + 20GB SSD
Hard Drive Speed 5,400rpm
Hard Drive Type SATA Hard Drive
Secondary Hard Drive Size
Secondary Hard Drive Speed
Secondary Hard Drive Type
Display Size 15.6
Native Resolution 1366x768
Optical Drive None
Optical Drive Speed
Graphics Card Intel HD Graphics 4400
Video Memory 128MB
Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n
Wi-Fi Model Intel Centrino Advanced-N 7260
Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.0
Mobile Broadband
Touchpad Size 4.2 x 3.1 inches
Ports (excluding USB) Headphone
Ports (excluding USB) HDMI
Ports (excluding USB) Ethernet
Ports (excluding USB) DC-in
Ports (excluding USB) USB 3.0
Ports (excluding USB) USB 2.0
Ports (excluding USB) Kensington Lock
USB Ports 3
Card Slots Secure Digital
Warranty/Support One-year international Travelers Limited Warranty
Size 15.02 x 10.08 x 0.79/0.9 inches
Weight 4.85 pounds
Company Website http://www.Acer.com