A good effort from Acer, which offers the performance of a high-end ultrabook at a competitive price. The Aspire S3 also has a great keyboard,
High-end performance, great keyboard, competitive price point
No removable battery, limited connectivity
Model: Acer Aspire S3-951
Display: 13.3in, LED-backlit 1366x768 resolution
Processor: Intel Core i7-2637M dual-core (1.7GHz)
Storage: 20GB SSD, 500GB HDD
Wireless connections: 802.11 a/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
Ports: 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x HDMI and SD card slot
Camera: 1.3-megapixel webcam
Acer is aiming to grab a piece of the ultrabook market by undercutting the competition with its Aspire S3 range.
The Aspire S3 series has much in common with other ultrabooks on the market in terms of size, weight and performance. However, there are some differences that keep the cost of the device down when compared to similar 13in ultrabooks.
Ultra-thin but uninspiring design
The Aspire S3 has most of the characteristics that you would expect in an ultrabook. The device is stick-thin with dimensions of 323x219x17.5mm, which is in line with most other 13in ultrabooks.
Build quality is reasonable but the S3 doesn't exude that premium finish we have seen with rivals such as the Apple MacBook Air and Asus Zenbook. Acer's decision to go with a metallic cover on the S3 is a nice touch, but other design choices give the device a budget look. When the lid is opened, users are greeted with a drab set of grey keys and a plastic chassis.
However, as we saw with the Asus Zenbook UX21E, beauty doesn't always guarantee performance and there are areas where the Acer device excels.
With a weight of 1.35kg, the S3 is not the lightest ultrabook out there, but is definitely light enough to carry around all day when you are travelling.
The Taiwanese manufacturer has also sealed the back of the ultrabook so it is not possible to swap out battery on the move.
The S3 features a 13.3in LED backlit display that comes with an optimal resolution of 1366x768. This display is adequate for general word processing tasks and browsing the internet. But it isn't quite as crisp as the 1,600x900 display found on the 13in Asus Zenbook.
Similarly, brightness and viewing angles are not the best we have seen, but the screen is more than adequate for everyday tasks and for multimedia playback.
We were impressed with the flexibility of the hinge and the display is one of the most adjustable we have seen on an ultrabook so far. The 13in screen is able to tilt backward to almost 180 degrees, so can be adjusted to compensate for overhead reflections.