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Acer Aspire Ultrabook S3: thinner than MacBook Air

Acer's first ultrabook laptop is a doozy, not only slimmer but cheaper than Apple's MacBook Air. Consider the stakes raised.

A new Acer laptop that rivals the MacBook Air not only for looks, but specs too? No wonder we were a little giddy when we reported the leak a few weeks ago.

Well we were wrong. Turns out we weren't excited enough about it -- now the S3 is official, we can confirm it's thinner and cheaper than the MacBook Air. Apple, it's on.

The S3 is Acer's entry into the 'ultrabook' category, a new type of laptop made possible by Intel shrinking its Atom chips. (Think netbooks on steroids.)

The screen is the same size as the top tier 13.3-inch MacBook Air, yet the Aspire Ultrabook S3 is just 13mm thick. That's thinner than the Air, at certain parts only, admittedly, but impressive nonetheless. It also tips the scales at an impressive 1.4kg, which is just a little more than the equivalent MacBook Air.

There's no confirmed UK-specific price yet, but we do have a European one we're thinking isn't far off the money. And the good news is it starts at just €799 (about £700), compared to the MacBook Air's £849. Oh yes.

And it's quick too, with a choice of ultra-low voltage Core i3, i5 or i7 CPUs. You can have a solid-state or normal hard drive, and it's no slouch to get going, waking from sleep in 1.5 seconds and finding and connecting to Wi-Fi hotspots in about 2.5. That's a lot quicker than us in the morning.

Because it's an ultrabook you can expect low consumption, meaning a mammoth 50-day battery life (in deep sleep mode) and low electricity bills. Good news all round.

The S3 will hit Europe in the next few weeks, and we'll bring you a full review as soon as we can. In the meantime you'll have to make do with our full hands-on Acer Aspire S3 ultrabook preview.