The 13.3 inch screen on offer shows a Full HD 1920×1080 image, and is easily one of the best laptop screens we’ve come across on an Ultrabook, not only showing more resolution, but offering more angles. Almost an echo from the quality that you get on an Apple iPad, Acer is using an In-Plane Switching (IPS) display here, showing near perfect viewing angles from all sides.
Images are, of course, better looked at dead on, but the screen looks gorgeous from all sides, which is a fair bit better than what we saw on the Aspire S3.
Acer has married that with a ten-point touch digitizer, offering up a machine that really aims to impress. Swipes from all sides as well as pinch to pull zooms all show off the speed and quality of the touchscreen, and with the touch friendliness of Windows 8, it makes the Aspire S7 shine.
Windows 8 doesn’t take long to get used to, either, even with how much touching it really requires. A simple swipe from the right to left brings up the start button and settings option, scrolling through the menu, selecting things with a touch, and dragging up from the bottom of the screen for more options. It’s more intuitive than you initially expect, and once you’re used to it, you wonder why more operating systems don’t work like this.
You also have a proper desktop mode that looks and feels like Windows 7, even if the translucent Aero glass effects have been removed, like the Start button, which is now built into the right side whenever your mouse lands in the corner or you swipe from the right. Obviously, the past versions of Windows were developed for a pre-touchscreen world, and as such, shouldn’t be amazing with a touchscreen, which is no doubt why you have your mouse.
But even here, Acer’s touchscreen manages to impress, providing reasonably accurate control in games and applications that were designed for a mouse. Adobe’s Lightroom 4, for instance, wasn’t designed for the large presses of a finger, but we had no problems loading up images and pressing the right areas, even if there was a touch of lag in between. It might take two or three pushes when you start, but gradually you’ll find that you and the screen come to an understanding.
For the most part, the apps work best when they’ve been designed for Windows 8, such as the new Internet Explorer, and included applications for mail, weather, calendar, stocks, and more.
Load up some games like the Australian “Fruit Ninja” and you see that touchscreen controls do work, at least decently, and should evolve better with time, though it does take a bit of getting used to, swiping and controlling on a laptop screen in front of you.
Gaming on a touchscreen gives us an insight into something else, too: hinge construction on the screen.
With rapid finger swipes in frenetic gaming, you find that Acer’s hinge does a decent job, not throwing too much screen shake or vibration our way, and showing off the excellent build quality here. If you’re on a bus or public transport, you shouldn’t find your screen falling over thanks to the work found here. We had to give the machine a good and solid shake to force the screen to fall, so unless you’re in a violent earthquake, the screen on your S7 should stay in place (and if you are in an earthquake, you have more important things to worry about).
In fact, you can push the screen all the way back if you so choose, keeping the laptop so flat that it could probably slide under a door with both the touchscreen and the keyboard exposed. Why you’d do this, we have no idea, but it’s rare to see such a strong hinge on a laptop, outside of the machines in Lenovo’s X series.
The keyboard is also quite nice, with a comfortable click and a soft press. This review was typed on the keyboard, and while there were a few mistakes initially, it is easily one of Acer’s best keyboard implementations to date, even if it is a tad shallow. Mind you, the machine has a thickness of 11.9mm, so it’s hard to have a lot of keyboard travel in that.
And then there’s system speed, and with the machine giving us an on to off time of five seconds and a standby to on time that’s practically instantaneous, we’re suitably impressed. Windows pretty much flies on this computer, and even though there is only 4GB of RAM, it’s certainly no slouch, though you won’t be doing any heavy gaming here, as our Steam experience showed some titles just won’t run on the Intel graphics.