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Acer S3-391-9606 review: Acer S3-391-9606

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Annual power consumption cost

One of the Ultrabook tenets is that a system is supposed to have long battery life, without sacrificing performance. The S3's performance is fine, but its battery life is average at best. The system ran for 4 hours and 3 minutes in our video playback battery drain test. That's acceptable, but just barely, for a 13-inch laptop, but it should last a bit longer during everyday use. The 13-inch MacBook Air ran for about 2.5 hours longer in the same test, as did Toshiba's excellent Portege R835.

Acer includes a standard one-year warranty with its systems. The support Web site is good at providing a list of appropriate driver software and FAQ pages for your particular model of laptop. Discovering the telephone support number is not as easy, so we googled it. Try 866-695-2237 between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. CT, and you'll need your system's serial or SNID number.

The Ultrabook may be a questionable laptop category, but the first handful of systems pitched as Ultrabooks all look and feel very impressive. The Acer Aspire S3 is an early favorite, as it delivers on the idea of undercutting Apple's MacBook Air, while other Ultrabooks cost as much if not more. If not for middling battery life, this would be a no-question recommendation for 13-inch-laptop shoppers. As it is, this is still a sharp-looking ultrathin laptop with mainstream power at a great price.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Find out more about how we test laptops.

System configurations:

Acer Aspire S3-951-6646
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-2467M; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 128MB (Shared) Intel HD 3000; 20GB SSD / 320GB Hitachi 5,400rpm

Apple MacBook Air 13.3-inch - Summer 2011
OS X 10.7 Lion; 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-2557M; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 384MB (Shared) Intel HD 3000; 128GB Apple SSD

Samsung 9 Series NP900X3A
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 1.4GHz Intel Core i5-2537M; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 64MB (Dedicated) Intel GMA HD; 128GB Samsung SSD

Asus U31SD-A1
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 2.1GHz Intel Core i3-2310M; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce 520M / 64MB (Dedicated) Intel GMA HD; 640GB Western Digital 5,400rpm

Toshiba Portege R835-P56X
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-2410M; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 64MB (Dedicated)/1,696MB (Total) Intel GMA HD; 640GB Hitachi 5,400rpm

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