The Good With a slim, MacBook-Air-like design at a reasonable price, the Acer Aspire S3 is an example of how the Ultrabook laptop category can work if done right.
The Bad The construction is a step below superpremium, connectivity is limited, and battery life is on the low side of acceptable.
The Bottom Line The Acer Aspire S3 is the closest you can get to the look and feel of a MacBook Air for less than $1,000, but it requires a few compromises.
Editors' note: After testing and reviewing several subsequent Ultrabook laptops, we have decided to revise our original rating for this product. Most notably, other Ultrabook laptops now offer full SSD hard drives for the same price, instead of Acer's less-expensive hybrid drive. We have changed the rating from 4 stars to 3.5 stars.
Call us skeptical (please do, we like it), butalways 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 , 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.
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