Acer hasn't had the best year, falling behind in global PC sales from its former perch at No. 2, just behind HP. Their announcement today that their first Ultrabook, the Aspire S3 would be available this week, and at a positively cut rate $899 is a strong move to build itself back up. You'll recall Ultrabooks are an Intel backed initiative to produce thin, lightweight laptops based around their CULV Sandy Bridge processors. By "Intel backed" this isn't just a name and a concept, Intel has committed $300M to help companies develop and market their variants. The power-sipping, modern processors are just one part of the concept; SSDs feature prominently in all models, as does a target price of $999, and a target battery life of 5 hours. Rapid sleep and wake times are also notable, though the speed of these seems very manufacturer dependent. 

The 13.3" S3 delivers a 1366x768 resolution on its LED backlit display, in an aluminum/magnesium chassis just a tick over half an inch thick at its thinnest point, and weighing just under 3 lbs. These are all characteristics that we'll encounter repeatedly as other Ultrabook models become available. The thin frame finds room for two USB ports along with a full size HDMI port on its back side, while audio jacks and a card reader grace its sides. The full size chiclet keyboard and large multitouch trackpad are par for the course and the system is being offered in a metallic grey with a fingerprint resistant finish. Connectivity comes in the form of 802.11 a/b/g/n wireless along with Bluetooth 4.0+HS, and a 1.3MP webcam rounds out the exterior specs. 

Inside the S3-951, you'll find the Core i5-2467 whose two cores can operate at 1.6GHz, or up to 2.3GHz on a single core, along with 4GB of RAM on the Intel UM67 chipset. Acer's Ultrabook will feature not just an SSD, 20GB in size, but also a 320GB HDD for expanded mobile storage. It's unclear whether the SSD will serve as a boot drive or exclusively to store sleep state. Note that the UM67 chipset does not support the Z68's Smart Response Technology that Anand discussed previously, but all ultrabooks sport enhanced wake from sleep times thanks to their SSD requirement and some chipset optimizations.

In the case of the S3, we're looking at a 2 second wake from sleep time (which really doesn't seem like that big a deal--resume from hibernation is what typically requires 30+ seconds). Another highlight is the 50 day stand by time. This is where the SSD's non-volatile memory really comes in handy. When left in sleep for longer than 8 hours, or a user definable time, the S3 will enter a Deep Sleep state that allows for this absurd stand by time. It can wake from Deep Sleep in just 6 seconds. Stand by times aren't the only area where the S3 should excel, the 3-cell 3280 mAh integrated battery is said to be good for 6 hours continuous usage. We can't wait to get our hands on one to test these battery life figures (though we'll likely pass on testing that stand by number). 

All of this will be available this week for that tempting $899 MSRP, a welcome value when not that long ago thicker, heavier and less potent machines were competing in the same price range for the "thin and light" crown. This is only the start though, with many OEMs expected to announce their products in the coming days and weeks. 

Source: Acer

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  • pcgeek101 - Monday, October 10, 2011 - link

    Only a 1366x768 display resolution? LOL! Reply
  • JasonInofuentes - Monday, October 10, 2011 - link

    Leave it to Sony to slip a 1080p 13" screen into a similar chassis. For 2.5 times the price. Reply
  • InsaneScientist - Monday, October 10, 2011 - link

    Agreed. I honestly stopped reading after that.

    What is it going to take to start getting reasonable resolutions in these things!?
    Reply
  • seamonkey79 - Monday, October 10, 2011 - link

    They make something like this with a flip around screen for a tablet interface, keeping everything else the same (at least near-term future) and I'll be interested. Reply
  • Fastidious - Monday, October 10, 2011 - link

    Actually looks nice and has good specs and not too high a price. I need at least 3 USB ports however. Only 2 USB suck and often you can only use one of them at a time do to badly designed products which take up too much space if the ports are right next to each other. Reply
  • Impulses - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    You guys planning on reviewing any of the new Samsung Series 7 laptops? I think that's one particular model that fits very well into the discussion of ultrabooks vs something slightly beefier. The 13/14" model has a higher res panel than most ultrabooks, a beefier battery, yet it costs the same and isn't much thicker. Other than ASUS UX line, the Series 7 is looking like one of the top choices for my next system. Reply
  • etamin - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    I'm also seriously looking to pick up the Series 7 $1149 model. It's the first laptop that has everything I want in at a very reasonable price. Reply
  • steven75 - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    No SSD and 4.3+ lbs isn't really the same class laptop anymore. Reply
  • etamin - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    Subpar screen and lack of USB 3.0...suddenly lost interest. Reply
  • tanayab01 - Monday, October 17, 2011 - link

    of all these comments
    i m dropping my decision to buy it :(
    Reply

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