Acer has today been demonstrating its Ultrabook Aspire S3 Windows 7-based laptop. The ultraportable laptop is housed in a magnesium-alloy case less than an inch thick. It weighs 1.4kg and is 13mm thick. Although it bears a passing resemblance to a MacBook Air and sports an Air-like 13.3in screen with a resolution of 1366x768 pixels, it’s actually a very different proposition.
The chassis is noticeably more robust and has a fingerprint-resistant finish. The keys have a similar Scrabble-tile layout, but the touchpad area is deeper and the screen itself can be pushed backwards so that the entire laptop is spreadeagled. The viewing angles are above average, particularly in comparison to a tablet, and the screen itself is less reflective than some.
Acer offers users a choice of Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors. A Core i5 model with 4GB of RAM and a 320GB hard disk drive, will cost from £699 including VAT. The top end model in the range will have a 240GB SSD for storage, is powered by a Core i7 processor and will cost £1099. However, even the entry-level model will have a modest amount of SSD storage as this is used to deliver the instant-on capability that Acer sees as being central to the Ultrabook’s appeal.
Acer introduced the Ultrabook by delineating current computing use as solid hour or two-hour-long sessions at a desktop PC or laptop based in a set location; casual web, communication and email use based around a smartphone or tablet and dabbled in sporadically for a few minutes at a time, but frequently; and a third category of more sustained but also frequent use based around a portable, connected device with sufficient processing power and a keyboard. This category is where Acer sees the Ultrabook fitting. The company believes as much as a quarter of its computer sales will be of this type by this time next year.
One of the most important aspects of the Acer Aspire S3 is its ability to resume from standby in around a second and then connect to a network within two 2.5 seconds.
Acer says the Ultrabook has a standby battery life of up to 50 days – nearly double that of most smartphones. Around eight hours of active computing use can be expected from a single battery charge. From hibernation mode, the Ultrabook should be ready for action in around 6.5 seconds. Booting into Windows 7 from ‘cold’ takes the same 30 seconds or so that any other laptop might. However, Acer believes the Ultrabook will usually be used for intermittent bursts of activity and will more commonly be used and resumed from its standby state.
The instant connect feature of around 2.5 seconds works only with networks that have been previously set up for the Ultrabook, but several such profiles can be set up for home, office and mobile use.
Acer will put the Ultrabook Aspire S3 onsale in the UK from October.