IFA 2016: Hands-on with the Acer Swift 7
IFA 2016: Hands-on with the Acer Swift 7
When it comes to consumer technology, even a month can seem like an entire age. So when HP announced the Spectre back in April, then the world’s thinnest notebook at a mere 10.4mm thick, we knew it was just a matter of time before someone else came along and wrested away the crown. We just didn’t know it would be this soon.
The recently announced Acer Swift 7 is the newly-minted contender to the dubious honor of being the slimmest notebook in the world. At a scant 9.98mm, it just scrapes the centimeter ceiling, making it also the first notebook to be less than a centimeter thick. In fact, Acer appears to have kicked off IFA 2016 with a flying start, having also announced the first ever gaming laptop with a 21-inch curved display.
Truth be told, the Swift 7 still reminds us a lot of the HP Spectre, down to the matte black cover that looks great but attracts a ton of fingerprints (so maybe more work, and less caressing). Less than a millimeter of thickness separates the two notebooks, and they are both going after a burgeoning segment of the market that is in constant pursuit of the slimmest and most stylish designs.
It certainly doesn’t hurt that there are echoes of the MacBook in the Swift 7’s design as well, in addition to recalling ASUS’ svelte ZenBook 3. Do we need paper-thin notebooks? Not really. But as long as consumers continue to demand them, you can be sure that the battle to shave off the millimeters is only just beginning.
At 1.1kg, the Swift 7 is a joy to tote around and this is a notebook that you’ll have no qualms about slipping into your bag.
The bulk of the notebook’s aluminum unibody is finished in gold, which complements the black lid for quite a classy look. The edges also taper upwards, making the sides even sleeker and allowing you to pick up the notebook more easily. After all, few of us fancy having to struggle to get a purchase under a wafer-thin notebook.
And because the Swift 7 is newer, it gets to benefit from all the latest hardware, for instance Intel’s 7th generation Kaby Lake processors. It can be equipped with up to an Intel Core i5 chip, but don’t be fooled into thinking that Acer has somehow pulled off a feat of engineering by cramming a higher TDP part into a chassis this thin. As it turns out, the Kaby Lake processor in question is really a Core m chip, albeit one that has been folded into the Core i branding.
This means that you’re still getting an efficiency-focused Y-series processor, but under a different name this time. Unfortunately, we still don’t know exactly which processor this will be, and we can see a few people getting misled into thinking that they’re getting a more powerful processor than they really are.
In addition, just as with the Spectre, it’s absolutely impossible to cram things like full-sized USB Type-A or HDMI ports on the Swift 7. Acer has opted instead for two USB 3.1 Type-C ports and a headphone jack on the notebook’s right edge. One of these doubles as a charging port as well, but that’s about all you’re getting in the way of connectivity ports. There’s also no Thunderbolt 3 support on any of its USB-C ports.
Other specifications include up to 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. Acer has implemented a fanless design on the Swift 7, which means you get whisper quiet operation thanks to the absence of moving parts. This also explains the lack of any exhaust vents, which actually helps create a more seamless look. Acer’s choice of a lower powered Y-series processor also makes better sense in this context, as a beefier chip would require a more powerful cooling solution and a thicker design.
And now for one of the most important parts of any notebook – the keyboard. This is a full-sized one with no oddly-shaped keys, and should take little getting used to. We were also happy to see that the Backspace key wasn’t squashed to be shorter or otherwise distorted (making it harder to reach in the process), a gripe we’ve had with some other laptops. But as expected of a laptop this thin, key travel distance was shallow, although it was no worse than on other comparable notebooks.
Another striking feature is the generously-sized trackpad, which is one of the largest we’ve seen. It’s probably not going to make that much difference in actual day-to-day use, but it’s a nice touch that fits into the overall design and does give you more room to play with.
Finally, the 13.3-inch IPS display has a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. It’s not going to turn any heads, but it was probably a design necessity borne out by the need to keep the dimensions of the notebook down and balance out the battery life. Acer is claiming up to 9 hours on this machine, and higher resolution displays only guzzle more power. That said, the FHD IPS panel appeared more than sufficient to us, even if it does nothing to distinguish the notebook. It may not be the most pixel-dense screen available, but such a compact display doesn’t require as many pixels to look decent.
Price and availability
The Acer Swift 7 will be available in the U.S. come October, for US$999 (~RM4,074). There’s no word yet on a local launch date or price.