Watch out, ultrabook makers. The Acer Aspire S3 is here and it’s set to light up the ultrabook scene. This little monster packs a second generation Core CPU, a 13.3-inch HD screen, both a SSD and HDD, and a 0.51-inch thick chassis made out of aluminum and magnesium that weighs just 2.98 pounds. But the best part by far is the price: $899. Yep, those specs combine to make the S3 the least expensive and one of the best equipped ultrabooks yet.
The 13.3-inch 16:9 screens rocks a 1366 x 768 resolution and is feed Windows 7 Home Premium by an Intel HD Graphics 3000 GPU, Core i5-2467M CPU and 4GB of RAM. Acer states the proprietary Hybrid Standby Technology allows for 50 days of standby power and 6 hours of continuous use — of course we’ll test out the latter claim once we get our review unit. A 20GB SSD handles the system files for quick boot times but a 320GB HDD gives the owner plenty of storage room.
This dual-mode hard drive set up gives the S3 near instantaneous system restores. Resuming from sleep mode takes 2 seconds while waking from Deep Sleep, which activates after a pre-set time, takes just 8 seconds. For better or worse, the S3 is the only ultrabook currently on the market with this SSD/HDD affair.
The Aspire S3-951 hits retailers later this week and is just the start of Acer’s ultrabook assault. There are multiple upcoming models scheduled but sacrifices will be made for good reasons. The planned Core i7 CPU will likely decrease the battery life but increase the computing might while a Core i3 will likely do the inverse (and potentially drop the price a bit). Larger solid state drives are also on tap.
Acer took a very minimalist approach with the S3’s design. Only an SD card reader, headphone port and power and battery status lights are located on the outside edges. The backside houses two full size USB ports, HDMI-out and the power connector. Open the lid and there’s a roomy recessed chiclet keyboard. At its thickest part, the S3 is just .5mm thicker than the MacBook Air. But, forgive me, Steve, the S3 looks better, costs less, and, at least for me, restores hope that companies other than Apple can actually build a good-looking and performing portable machine.