Acer Aspire S3 Core i7 Ultrabook
First among equals?
Review The Acer Aspire S3 is a major new entrant to the emerging market for ‘ultraportables’ – ultra-thin but powerful notebook PCs with reduced components to keep the space and weight to a minimum. It won’t suit everyone, but if you like the idea of a portable Windows computer than can be carried in one hand or tucked under your armpit rather than lugged around in a shoulder bag, the S3 is a delight.
First to market: Acer's Aspire S3 Ultrabook
But before I go further, be aware that the obergruppenführers at Reg Hardware have declared that direct comparisons between the Acer Aspire S3 Ultrabook at Apple’s MacBook Air are not welcome. “Just review the product in front of you”, they said, “otherwise the readers will write you off as an Apple fanboi.”
So the fact that the S3 is several hundred pounds cheaper than a MacBook Air while offering double the storage is something you’ll have to work out for yourself. I, for one, will not be mentioning it.
A sophisticated brushed aluminium finish: I wonder where Acer got the idea from?
In a notebook market populated by fragile, plasticky models, the Aspire S3 stands out with its tough-looking, brushed aluminium casing. Magnets keep the case closed without the need for a clasp. The lid and body do not have perfectly flush edges: far from being a lapse in design, this actually makes it quick and easy to open the case without having to fumble for “the right place” first.
The body of the case is gently sloped, the rear being a few millimetres higher than the front edge. Opening the almost unfeasibly skinny lid reveals a 13.3in display with not too much space wasted around the bezel.
The skinny display has to be seen to be believed, but the visuals are still bright and crisp
The display’s 1366 x 768-pixel resolution is a compromise, of course, but Acer has taken the trouble to ensure it’s a decent quality display in terms of visuals. In use, the screen is crisp and clear with an impressively wide viewing angle for such a small computer.
Next page: Key concerns
"But before I go further, be aware that the obergruppenführers at Reg Hardware have declared that direct comparisons between the Acer Aspire S3 Ultrabook at Apple’s MacBook Air are not welcome. 'Just review the product in front of you', they said, 'otherwise the readers will write you off as an Apple fanboi.'"
Actually, comparisons to Apple products don't upset me when you look at things like resolution or HD speed, etc. It is when Apple products (or indeed ANY manufacturer) are set up as a preeminent standard by a reviewer that gets my nerves raw. Present the reader with the specs, the good and the bad and let folks make up their own mind about what they want on their desk. That is the core of objective reporting in my mind and most reviews on the Reg achieve that nicely.
Working it out myself
"So the fact that the S3 is several hundred pounds cheaper than a MacBook Air while offering double the storage is something you’ll have to work out for yourself."
Because a 5400rpm mechanical is just as fast as a SSD.
"My 13.3 laptop from 5 years ago is still lighter and more powerful than most..." In no way what so ever is your 5 year old laptop more powerful than an I7 based ultrabook. As for your old laptop being lighter than an ultrabook, that's just a stupid thing to say.
A £900 laptop shouldn't have parts that aren't quite right, it shouldn't have a keyboard that takes getting used to or a touchpad that is next to useless or a fan that gives you tinnitus. I also don't think it should have a screen where the resolution is a compromise.
We can maybe forgive using a spinning disk (I notice the review doesn't mention the SSD cache or how well it works) but the rest of this stuff needs to be fixed before people are prepared to shell out this amount of money for an Acer laptop.
It disappoints me how slowly the mobile area is progressing. My 13.3 laptop from 5 years ago is still lighter and more powerful than most, with a better res and battery life than this "ultra" book.
What's the superlative after "ultra", I'll wait for one of those.