The Bottom Line
Mar 18 2013 - Acer has made an impressive thin and light ultrabook with the Aspire S7-191 that even packs in a touchscreen display. Add to this a high resolution display and fast storage system and one would think this would be a top choice. There are lots of sacrifices made by Acer for it though. This includes poor battery life without the extended battery that runs its portability and the screen is very difficult to use outdoors due to limited brightness.
- Very Thin And Light
- Fast SSD For Quick Boot Times
- High Resolution Display
- Short Battery Life Without Extra Battery Pack
- Low Screen Brightness
- Sharp Edges Make It Hard To Type
- Intel Core i5-3317U Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 4GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 128GB Solid State Drive
- 11.6" WUXGA (1920x1080) Multitouch Display With 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
- Intel HD Graphics 4000 Integrated Graphics
- 802.11a/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Two USB 3.0, micro-HDMI, microSD Card Slot
- 11.2" x 7.7" x .5" @ 2.69 lbs.
- Windows 8
Review - Acer Aspire S7-191-6859
Mar 18 2013 - The Acer Aspire S7 series is their premium ultrathin ultrabook design. The S7-191 is the smaller 11.6-inch based design that differs somewhat from its larger variant by using an aluminum design that features an aluminum lid and bezel rather than the glass covered. The system is extremely light at just 2.2 pounds and very thin at half an inch thick. Of course this is without the external battery pack that adds over half a pound in weight and significant thickness to the rear of the system. The design while attractive still falls short of some others due to some sharp edges especially around the palm rest.
Like most other ultrabooks, the Acer Aspire S7-171-6859 is based around the lower voltage Core i5-3317U dual core processor. This provides it with a good amount of performance that lets it run just about any type of task. Of course it won't be as fast as a standard laptop in more demanding tasks like desktop video but that is not surprising. The system only comes configured with 4GB of DDR3 memory which is smooth enough for Windows 8 but it can hamper those that like to do lots of multitasking. It should be noted that the memory cannot be upgraded.
Storage features are pretty typical of a premium class of ultrabook. A 128GB solid state drive supplies very responsive performance at the expense of storage space. In fact, the system boots up in roughly ten seconds making it one of the fastest to load the operating system from a cold boot. Now, if you do need additional space, the system does feature two USB 3.0 ports for use with high speed external drives. In terms of flash memory storage, there is a microSD card slot that can be used with the extremely small cards typical for many smart phones but it does not support the larger more common SD size used by many digital cameras.
For an 11.6-inch display, the Acer Aspire S7-191 certainly offers a lot. The small screen packs in a very high 1920x1080 native resolution which allows it to support full 1080p high definition video. The one downside is that it can make text and icons very small, particularly in the desktop mode. The screen also features multitouch support which is very useful with the new base user interface of Windows 8. The big downside is that the brightness levels of the screen don't quite match up with its competition which makes it more difficult to use in outdoor situations. The graphics are handled by the Intel HD Graphics 4000 that are build into the Core i5 processor and used by just about every ultrabook. This is fine for most tasks but it lacks significant 3D acceleration for gaming and can only offer acceleration for video encoding with Quick Sync compatible applications.
With is small size, the keyboard layout of the Aspire S7-191 is on the smaller size. To compensate for this somewhat, the function key row has been removed and is instead integrated with the number row with the function keys. Key travel is very shallow due to the thin nature of the system but accuracy seems to be decent. The trackad is a bit wider than it is tall due to the space constraints and uses integrated buttons. It works well and supports multitouch gestures but most people will probably end up using the touchscreen instead.
The battery for the Aspire S7-191 is an internal one with a 2500mAh capacity rating. Thus puts it on the smaller side of the batteries which means it won't have as long of a running time. Some models such as the S7-191-6859 come with an additional external battery that can be attached to the bottom rear which doubles the overall battery capacity at the expense of weight and thickness. With just the internal battery, digital video playback testing yielded a disappointing three and a half hours before going into standby mode. With the wedge battery, this extends the running time up to six hours. So, without the extra battery, the S7 is one of the shortest running ultrabooks on the market but add the extra battery and it is one of the longer ones although it does make it much less portable and lightweight.
Priced at $1150, the Acer Aspire S7-191-6859 is considered a premium class ultrabook. It is generally cheaper than many of the other 11-inch ultrathin laptops on the market. The Apple MacBook Air 11 is certainly less expensive at $999 but is has half the storage space, lower resolution display and is somewhat heavier. Its big advantage is that it offers a much better level of build quality while being more affordable. The ASUS Taichi 21 is more expensive at $1299 but offers a true hybrid design with two high resolution displays that offer better levels of brightness and a digitizer that works with the external touchscreen. The downside to the ASUS is relatively short battery life, heavier weight and no SD card reader at all. Finally, there is the Sony VAIO Duo that is more of a tablet than a laptop with its sliding screen design. It has a brighter high resolution display and better battery life but is heavier with a limited display for its laptop mode.