Tue, Dec 04, 2012 - Page 12 News List

Technology reviews

Google/Asus Nexus 7; Acer Aspire S7 Laptop; Toshiba Satellite U940

By David Chen  /  Staff reporter

With the Nexus 7, there’s the inevitable question. Should you wait for the iPad Mini? Not if price is an issue. The iPad mini, which hasn’t been released in Taiwan, is most certainly going to be more expensive, with its basic model in the US selling for US$329 (more than NT$9,500). In terms of features, if you’re used to Apple products and are always looking for the latest and greatest apps, then switching to Android is probably not a good move.

But if you want a tablet just for the basics such as e-mail (especially gmail), Facebook, e-books and surfing the Web, then the Nexus 7 has it covered.

Acer Aspire S7 Laptop

Wow, Acer, you did it. After years of cranking out middle-of-the-road desktop and notebook computers, you’ve come up with a truly standout product.

Acer’s Aspire S7-391 (NT$44,900 to NT$52,900 depending on the specifications) is a beautiful, well-built laptop, one that surpasses anything the Taiwanese company has ever made. Running on Windows 8, Microsoft’s new operating system, the S7 runs fast and smooth and sports a very responsive touchscreen, a nice keyboard and a crystal sharp screen. This “ultrabook” will actually make you think twice about getting a Macbook Air.

I spent a week testing the S7 with a 13-inch screen as my main computer, and it’s one of the best Windows laptops I’ve ever used. The big caveat, though, is Windows 8. The new OS is bold and innovative but it can be very frustrating to use. This is mainly because Windows 8 has two different looks and interfaces, “Metro” (designed for touchscreen tablets) and the traditional desktop (think Windows XP, Vista, 7). There’s a learning curve with Windows 8, as the touch gestures are not immediately intuitive (See page 12 of the Nov 13, 2012, edition of the Taipei Times for a full review).

But if any computer were to convince you to overlook these shortcomings, it would be the S7. In fact, it lets the finer qualities of Windows 8 shine, particularly when it comes to the touchscreen experience. The S7 has a gorgeous display because of its the high resolution (1920 x 1080) IPS screen. The colors are bold and rich, and the picture is clear from all angles. Videos look great on the S7, and even doing mundane tasks like word processing feels a little less dull thanks to the pin-sharp text and graphics.

Laptops with touch screens are nothing new, but I’ve never seen one work as well the S7 does. Its screen is just as responsive as an iPad, and because Windows 8 is actually designed to be touch-friendly, navigating feels buttery smooth. On the Metro desktop, with its animated icons, everything is tap and go, as it should be. As for using the S7’s keyboard, it feels natural to switch from tapping the screen to tapping on the keyboard and trackpad if need be.

ASPIRE INSPIRES

In this area, Acer deserves praise for getting the trackpad right. It’s not perfect — the pad surface rattles a bit — but it works well, responding to the touch with the right amount of sensitivity. And you don’t get the dreaded “jumping cursor” problem, where accidentally brushing the trackpad with your hand will send the cursor to a random part of the screen. The S7’s trackpad is one of the best I’ve ever used on a Windows laptop.

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