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Dell's 2009 Latitude Z600 flops on Windows 8
This was my favorite Windows 7 PC ever. It was amazingly thin and light for its era (late 2009/early 2010), with a big (16-inch) screen running at 1600x900, and it was one of the first SSD-equipped devices I owned.
So I was really looking forward to running Windows 8 on this device. Alas, it wasn't meant to happen. Although this device included 5 GB of RAM, it shipped with a 32-bit version of Windows 7, and its driver support for Windows 8 was nonexistent. I tried three times to make Windows 8 work on it, each time failing. I finally surrendered, restored the original Windows 7 image, and sold it at a garage sale a few months ago to someone who was looking for a great Windows 7 PC.
Acer Aspire S7-191 punches above its weight
Over the years, I've owned a few Acer devices. They've been a mixed bag, in terms of design and build quality. So I was a bit skeptical when I saw glowing reviews for this 11-inch device, which was code-named Helium.
But I decided to take the plunge, buying it to replace my wife's first-generation Ultrabook. After six months, we have few complaints.
This is a great example of what an Ultrabook is supposed to be. At 2.7 pounds, it's amazingly light and portable. It has a 3rd Generation Core i5, Full HD (1920x1080) multi-touch display, a 128GB SSD, a backlit keyboard, and a USB 3.0 port that can charge a device when it's off.
Its battery life is less than stellar, under 4 hours in practice. For Judy, that doesn't matter, because she rarely is far from a power outlet. For travel purposes, it comes with a second battery that clamps to the back and doubles battery life at a small cost in weight. And both the keyboard and trackpad are a bit finicky, although neither one is a dealbreaker.
This device will be around our household for a long time.
Acer Aspire S7-392 raises the Ultrabook bar
At this year's Build conference, I had a chance to see this device before it went on sale. After using the 11-inch version, I wanted to see whether this newer 13-inch model had worked out the kinks in its predecessors.
The answer is a resounding yes.
The outside, with a white Gorilla Glass cover, is beautiful and tough, and the 13-inch Full HD display is gorgeous. The backlit keyboard doesn't have the same issues with occasionally sticky keys that the previous version did. For me, though, the killer feature is the 4th Generation Core i5 (Haswell). This is the first PC I've ever owned that can genuinely claim all-day battery life without having to add any qualifiers. At IFA in Berlin this year, I used the machine nonstop for a day without ever needing the charger. Atnd at 2.9 pounds it's genuinely portable.
I had no trouble upgrading it to the RTM version of Windows 8.1. I'll happily take a look at the new crop of Haswell-powered Ultrabooks, but it will take something special to knock this one off its perch.