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Acer Aspire S 13 review: An affordable, fingerprint-resistant MacBook Air alternative

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The Good Acer's Aspire S13 has a touchscreen that resists glare, a thin, light body that resists fingerprints and more solid-state storage than the competition -- plus a fast Intel Core processor, impressive audio and exceptional battery life.

The Bad This 13-inch Acer is saddled with a stiff, shallow keyboard, and the touchpad's poor palm rejection means the cursor jumps around in documents. Uneven keyboard backlighting and a thick screen bezel detract from the appeal.

The Bottom Line This Acer Aspire S13 isn't the most inspiring thin notebook, but it's a remarkably practical and cost-effective choice.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.7 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Battery 9

Review Sections

Technically, you can buy an Acer Aspire S13 in the United States for just $580, and the laptop typically comes in black.

Realistically, just forget about both of those things. I'm reviewing the Acer Aspire S13 in white -- which starts at $800, £650 or AU$1,399 -- because it's the one doing something particularly neat.

Many laptops this thin don't have great performance. Many laptops this powerful don't have great battery life. Many laptops this price skimp on the storage and memory you need. And the ones that don't -- our favorite laptops -- typically are made of smooth metal and glass that attracts loads of glare and gobs of oily fingerprints.

The 13-inch Acer Aspire S13 -- the white one -- doesn't suffer from any of those weaknesses.

The Acer Aspire S13. Also pictured: an amazingly photogenic cushion.

Josh Miller/CNET

At 3.0 pounds and 0.57 inche thick, with a dual-core 2.3GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of solid-state storage and a crisp 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution IPS touchscreen, it's as thin, fast and spacious as the competition. (I tested the $1,000 Core i7 model with 512GB of storage -- impressive specs for the price.)

In fact, the Aspire S13's battery life is better than most. We got 9 hours, 45 minutes in our standard streaming video drain test, and I found I could typically work 6 to 7 full hours before needing to recharge. That's just a stone's throw away from the battery life we get with a MacBook Air, only this Acer has a far better screen and speakers.

But the white Acer Aspire S13 also does something I've never seen before. It's a thin metal touchscreen laptop that doesn't trap light and grease. The pure white matte aluminum surfaces simply don't pick up fingerprints. (Aside from a fine coating of dust, our S13 looks just as good today as when we took it out of the box weeks ago.) And where most every single laptop manufacturer covers their touchscreens in sheets of mirrorlike glass, the S13 has an antiglare coating.

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