Acer first entered the ultrabook world back in 2011 with the-- a slim and light machine that didn't do much to stand out against the competition.
Not wanting to throw in the towel just yet, Acer is back with the Aspire S7. This 13-inch laptop measures in at an atom-splitting 11.9mm thick, and manages to pack a touchscreen and a Core i7 processor into that slim frame.
With a price tag of £1,500 though, does it do enough to fight off its touchscreen-toting rivals?
Should I buy the Acer Aspire S7?
With a thickness of only 11.9mm and its attractive, glossy white coat, the Aspire S7 is aimed squarely at those of you who want a stylish machine to slide into your fashionable messenger bags. Those looks come don't come cheap, though.
It packs an Intel Core i7 processor, but only 4GB of RAM, providing solid, but not outstanding performance. For the £1,500 Acer is demanding, you'd be right to expect a little more juice. It's perfectly capable of tackling all of the everyday essentials, but it's no powerhouse.
On the plus side, it has a great touchscreen, letting you navigate your way around the large tiles of Windows 8 much more comfortably than you can with a regular touchpad.
If design, portability and the touchscreen are of critical importance to you, the S7 is a good, if pricey, option to consider. Dell's XPS 12 offers only slightly slower performance, but it's still portable and costs £500 less. If you want a Windows 8 ultrabook with a bit more junk in the trunk, the Asus Zenbook U500 delivers blistering performance, although it doesn't have a touchscreen.
Design and build quality
One of the first things you're likely to notice about the S7 is extremely thin chassis. It measures a mere 11.9mm, the whole way across the body. Ultrabooks like Asus' Zenbook UX31 are narrower at the front end, but due to the wedge shape design, fatten to 17mm at the back. I was actually a little taken aback by just how slender it felt in my hand.
It's 323mm wide and 224mm deep, which is pretty standard for a 13-inch ultrabook. You certainly won't struggle to slide it into a backpack. It weighs in at just under 1.3kg so it's perfectly light enough to carry on your back for at least a few hours without your spine snapping.
Gone is the boring silver casing found on its older S3 ultrabook, replaced instead with a glossy, pure white lid made from sturdy Gorilla Glass 2, surrounded with a thin strip of silver. It's very minimalist, but undeniably pretty. Together with its diminutive height, it looks like a very premium machine -- which, of course, it is.
Build quality seems generally quite high, with little flex in the lid when you open it and no unpleasant creaking from the base or keyboard tray when you press down on them. It's not a perfect design though -- there's not much of a lip at the front, making it surprisingly difficult to open and that glossy white surface is a haven for all kinds of fingerprints and grease.
Around the sides you'll spy two USB 3.0 ports, an SD card slot, a micro-HDMI port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Storage comes in the form of a capacious 256GB solid-state drive.
Keyboard and trackpad
Silver is the name of the game under the lid, with silver keys set into a base clad in yet more silver. It's a plain look, but inoffensive enough to avoid offsetting the attractiveness of the outside. If you're trying to make a real impression somewhere fancy, just make sure the lid is always facing outwards.
The keys are fairly large and well spaced across the tray. They don't have much travel though, making it sometimes difficult to know if you've pressed them. You need to develop a rather sure-footed typing style to avoid mistakes at speed. It's backlit though, so you won't struggle to see at night.