New Acer ultrabooks sport 1080p IPS panels, high prices

On the heels of IHS’s doom-and-gloom report on the ultrabook market, Acer has unveiled a new series of ultrabooks geared toward Windows 8. These systems feature 1080p IPS touch screens, ultra-thin profiles, and unfortunately, rather formidable price tags: $1,199 for the 11.6" Aspire S7 and a whopping $1,399 for the 13.3" model.

These are obviously premium machines, though. Acer touts their aluminum unibody designs and "razor thin" profiles, which are as thin as 0.47 inches, "depending on the model." Both the 11.6" and 13.3" Aspire S7 variants feature 1080p IPS panels (much like Asus’ Zenbook Prime), and those displays are clad in Gorilla Glass to ward off scratches. The announcement says something about a "unique dual torque hinge design," too, which prevents the display from moving when you’re using the touch screen. Not that the display can’t move if you want it to—the 13.3" Aspire S7 can purportedly tilt its screen back "a full 180 degrees" in order to lie flat on a table or desk.

Crammed under their (backlit) keyboards, Acer’s Aspire S7 ultrabooks pack the latest Ivy Bridge processors: Intel’s Core i5-3317UB and Core i7-3517U. They include solid-state storage, of course, and Acer apparently lets you configure dual SSDs in a RAID-0 configuration for maximum performance. And there are two lithium-polymer batteries. One of them offers six hours of run time, and the other, which Acer says is optional, can boost those run times by another six hours or so.

The Aspire S7 series will be available in conjunction with Windows 8 on October 26. According to Acer, you’ll be able to find them at "leading retailers across North America."

Given Windows 8’s image scaling hurdles with the 13.3" Zenbook Prime, I’m not all that hyped up about the 13.3" Aspire S7. Since it has the same resolution and screen size, users will probably be stuck between the same unpleasant scaling extremes in Metro. Perhaps the 11.6" offering will offer a better compromise, though.

Comments closed
    • indeego
    • 7 years ago

    “These issues are more about software vendors failing to adopt newer APIs—or not making their custom widgets and skins scalable. As high-PPI displays become more and more common, those vendors will hopefully fall in line.”

    That is *all* that needs to be said about Windows 8 scaling. If/when it’s important, it’ll get changed.

    The same exact thing happened for XP DPI scaling. At my work we went through it with some software vendors, and they fixed them. This was after LCD’s got above ~19″.

    Kinda an issue now, likely not a long-term issue in the future.

      • UberGerbil
      • 7 years ago

      Web pages also pose an issue, since bitmap images are widespread on the web and no scaling method by any browser can perfectly handle non-integral scaling of pixels. Good webpage design doesn’t rely on bitmaps as design elements, but there are millions of badly-designed pages that won’t be updated soon, or maybe ever. And even when bitmaps are not part of the design they’re frequently part of the content, and inevitably there are compromises when resized fonts flow around un-resized images. As with everything else, the things that matter get updated (driven in no small part by all the mobile web browsers already out there with display specs that vary considerably from the PC norm) but you’re going to be seeing odd rendering glitches for a long time.

    • yogibbear
    • 7 years ago

    $1200 isn’t too expensive if this thing has the build quality, keyboard and trackpad to match that price.

    As it is acer I fear that I’ll flex out the screen to 180 degrees and it’ll fall off….

    • mattthemuppet
    • 7 years ago

    I curious about the dual batteries and dual SSDs – are these things that have to be specified on ordering or can you add the extra battery/ SSD later? Where’s the space coming from for these duplications and what’s it used for when they’re not present? How does it affect weight?

      • nico1982
      • 7 years ago

      The battery is likely and add-on like Vaio’s battery slices, which are quite nice.

    • dpaus
    • 7 years ago

    Meh. My new Dell XPS 14 Ultrabook has a Core i7-3517U CPU, and I’ve been pretty disappointed with the performance.

      • NeelyCam
      • 7 years ago

      Compared to what?

        • derFunkenstein
        • 7 years ago

        A desktop i7 3770K.

      • adisor19
      • 7 years ago

      Does it have an SSD ? Is the screen decent ?

      Adi

      • satchmobob
      • 7 years ago

      Humm, pretty happy with mine. Apart from a few missing keys (no pause or menu keys)
      The build quality is better than anything else I’ve seen for a non Apple laptop (and I see a lot of lappys trust me!). I guess I don’t really push it performance wise but for an ULV CPU it ain’t bad i think.

      Adi, the screen is just about above average. Vertical viewing angles aren’t that great but it’s damn bright when needed and the dell default display colour needs to be changed from ‘splendid’ to generic or the colours are blown out. Also the battery kicks ass!
      I think the base config comes with a spinner and 32GB mSSD. I swapped a 256gb sammy SSD into mine though.

    • link626
    • 7 years ago

    bravo. 180 degree hinge.

    why did laptop makers stick with 135 degree hinges for so long? i never understood

      • MadManOriginal
      • 7 years ago

      Probably because people tend to use the keyboard and trackpad on a laptop.

      • ludi
      • 7 years ago

      Probably because without an IPS panel and touchscreen, a longer travel is pointless, more expensive, and wears out the display interface cable faster.

    • chuckula
    • 7 years ago

    Everything about these machines looks nice… except the Acer logo 🙁

      • sweatshopking
      • 7 years ago

      ars has a pretty positive hands on preview.

        • chuckula
        • 7 years ago

        I’m willing to overlook the Acer bit as long as the hands-on reviews are positive. Of particular concern with Acer are things like:
        1. Build quality
        2. Keyboard/trackpad quality
        3. Display quality (not just resolution)
        4. Battery life.
        5. Thermals.

        If Acer has done it right, I’m happy to go along with it, but they don’t have the best reputation in these areas.

          • CaptTomato
          • 7 years ago

          I have a Acer Aspire 5740g from Jan 2010, and it’s built like a tank{$1000aud}
          The screen sux as it’s a TN, but otherwise it’s well built and has far better USB2 controller than my 2008 ASUS P5Q pro in my never say die desktop PC.

      • internetsandman
      • 7 years ago

      I don’t like how much empty space there is around the keyboard. I can’t imagine that they couldn’t have made them bigger

        • cynan
        • 7 years ago

        It’s because they used the same keyboard for both the 11.6″ and 13.3″ (the one in the pictures above) model. You’d think that if charging that much, they could have went with a larger one for the larger model.. At least the larger one has a bigger trackpad.

      • cynan
      • 7 years ago

      From this and a couple of other posts it seems that sometimes you just can’t please people. For years on this, and other, tech sites/forums enthusiasts have complained that PC laptop quality has been dwindling, juxtaposed by Apple machines for example, the chief competitor, increasing in quality.

      Now that one of the largest PC laptop makers, traditionally one of the stronger proponents of the “cheaper is better” motto, may finally be attempting a product where quality is a top priority (ie, does not seem to be targeted directly for center-isle fire-sales at Wallmart), people still aren’t happy.

      “Yeah. It’s an Acer. They’ll likely cut corners somewhere that will totally ruin the experience”

      Talk about cynical. It’s almost as if some people would prefer to be stuck with mostly low quality crap so they can complain about their lack of options rather than – you know – actually having options.

      Acer is just as capable at producing a high quality laptop as any other company. It’s not rocket science, particularly since they are basically emulating design concepts first championed by others. The fact that they haven’t very often in the past is irrelevant. Now that they’re actually attempting such a feat, at least let the hands-on reviews come out before you start bashing them.

    • ModernPrimitive
    • 7 years ago

    Nice machines. So glad 1080p is becoming more common. Bring on the “death of 768”!… even make a movie about it !

      • sweatshopking
      • 7 years ago

      NO. NO MOVIE.

        • internetsandman
        • 7 years ago

        I would have gotten Micheal Bay to direct it. Every laptop with a 768 display suddenly becomes a bomb

          • Squeazle
          • 7 years ago

          Filmed for 768 resolutions. An instant anti-hit!

            • willmore
            • 7 years ago

            Squeazle got the joke.

      • codedivine
      • 7 years ago

      Well, given that TR has pointed out very high DPI displays are not necessarily ideal for Windows, why do you want a 1080p display?

        • ModernPrimitive
        • 7 years ago

        You’re right, I am a bit nervous about Win 8. I have a 15$ copy coming when it’s released and have messed with the RC only a few minutes, but if i hate it, I’m sure a copy of 7 would fit one of these.

        • Squeazle
        • 7 years ago

        …Better question, if Windows can’t deal with 1080p, why would you want Windows?

        • Chrispy_
        • 7 years ago

        Not everyone agrees with the TR verdict about high DPI displays.

        Certainly high-dpi displays have drawbacks, but people seem to forget that low-dpi displays have an [i<]even bigger[/i<] drawback: [b<]There simply aren't enough pixels to work with![/b<] 1366x768 isn't even enough to have two windows open side by side, and don't even get me started on any application with a multiple toolbars/pallettes/windows (CAD/DTP/Photoshop/Video editing). What's important is [i<]not[/i<] that high DPI isn't perfect, but that we have [b<]more choice[/b<].

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