Acer Aspire S3 review: The first of the Ultrabooks

Are Ultrabooks a hot new laptop category or a just another marketing fad?

Call us skeptical (please do, we like it), but the Ultrabook concept always struck us as being a bit suspect.

Intel has been pushing for several months the idea of a new class of laptops that are slim and powerful with excellent battery life, but simply putting out a list of suggested specs and coining a name isn't the same thing as creating an entire new top-level category that can stand alongside ultraportable or desktop-replacement laptops.

On paper, the Ultrabook concept seemed like just a way to pitch Windows-based versions of Apple's popular MacBook Air, but now that we've seen the first few models in action, we may not be total converts but we're certainly more inclined to think of these as something new and unique.

The best of the new Ultrabooks may be Acer's 13-inch Aspire S3. Slim, lightweight, and powerful, it certainly looks and feels a good deal like a MacBook Air, and is, at first glance, nearly indistinguishable from Ultrabooks from Asus and Lenovo. The difference is that Acer has decided to sell the Aspire S3 for $899, a steep discount from what you'd pay for a 13-inch MacBook Air (starting at $1,399), and indeed, about $300 less than Asus and Lenovo are charging for very similar systems. But, before you pull out that credit card, there are a few concessions to be made.

Read the full review of the Acer Aspire S3.

About the author

Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of laptops, desktops, and Windows tablets, while also writing about games, gadgets, and other topics. A former radio DJ and member of Mensa, he's written about music and technology for more than 15 years, appearing in publications including Spin, Blender, and Men's Journal.


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