First look: Acer Aspire S3 Ultrabook

INTEL INTRODUCED its Ultrabook concept earlier this year at Computex in Taiwan. It stated that Ultrabooks should be thinner than 21mm, cost less that $1,000 and start up very quickly.

By Magnus Nystedt

Published: Sat 10 Sep 2011, 8:36 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 8:03 AM

Acer introduced its first Ultrabook at IFA in Berlin and has certainly delivered on most of what Intel was looking for.

About a week before Acer’s introduction of the Aspire S3 Ultrabook I was fortunate enough to spend a few days with it. It was a pre-production unit, which means that everything may not have been exactly like it will be on the units that ship to customers, but this close to the launch, you shouldn’t expect any major differences.

According to Acer, the Aspire S3 will reach the Middle East in late September so you should be able to see it at your favorite electronics showroom soon. But what is it you can expect to see?

You will see arguably the thinnest and lightest fully-functional Windows PC notebook yet, measuring 13.3mm on the slimmest end, growing to 17mm on the back. Combine that with a 13.3mm display and a weight of 1.35kg and you have something light and thin enough to pretty much always carry with you.

The S3 we had for testing was the higher-end model with Intel Core i7 2637M 1.7GHz processor, 4GB RAM, and 120GB Intel SSD. The graphics are Intel’s Sandy Bridge processor graphics, HD 3000, and the computer runs Windows 7 Home Premium.

This makes the S3 in everyday use very quick and snappy. I didn’t do anything heavy like process video with the S3, and it’s not really the sort of computer you would do much of that with anyway. Keep in mind though that this was the S3 with Core i7 processor and the Ultrabook will also be offered with i5 processor. These are Intel’s ULV (Ultra-Low Voltage) variants of the Core processors, which are not as powerful as the regular models but consume less power.

One thing that particularly impressed with the S3 was wakeup and reboot times. When the system is running and you close the display and want to get back into Windows, it takes just over a second for the Windows login screen to appear. Even a reboot is very quick and not something you have to loathe anymore.

The outside of the very glossy 13.3-inch display (1366768 pixels) is brushed aluminum but the main part of the S3 is made out of magnesium alloy. Although the two materials are very close to each other in appearance and touch, I would have preferred Acer to stick to one of them throughout, it would give the S3 a classier appearance as well as feel, I think. On the outside we find two USB ports on the rear next to HDMI port, AC adapter port and the exhaust from the processor fan. On the left side there’s a 3.5mm audio jack and on the right side you find an SD card slot.

In terms of battery life the S3 shut itself down after almost exactly five hours of Wi-Fi work on battery saving mode. That’s not bad considering the specifications and size but if Acer could tweak that to get another hour out of the S3, that would be really good.

I am impressed with the Acer Aspire S3 and I look forward to trying a shipping model. If my first taste of Ultrabooks is any indication of what’s coming, I think PC users are in for a treat, delivered by Acer as well as other brands.

The UAE price of Acer Aspire S3 should be slightly lower than the €799-1,199 price Acer stated at the press event at IFA because that is including a sales tax. Exactly what the price will be in here we don’t know yet but hopefully Acer will hit the $1,000 benchmark set by Intel. —

· Magnus Nystedt talks and writes about technology as much as he can. Follow him on Twitter as @mnystedt for the latest on consumer technology in the Middle East.

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