back to article Acer Aspire S3 Core i7 Ultrabook

The Acer Aspire S3 is a major new entrant to the emerging market for ‘ultraportables’ – ultra-thin but powerful notebook PCs with reduced components to keep the space and weight to a minimum. It won’t suit everyone, but if you like the idea of a portable Windows computer than can be carried in one hand or tucked under your …


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  1. Captain Underpants

    Odd that they didn't bother going for the SSD option but equally I suppose the space constraints are a hassle.

    I'm intrigued by the description of resuming from hibernation as "a hassle" though - in my experience it's "press button, give it say 20 seconds, enter password, resume working".

  2. Gordon 10 Silver badge

    Obligatory MBA Comparison

    Personally for that kind of price point I would go with a slower cpu, faster drive and smaller screen - the 11" MBA @ £999. I would happily pay the apple tax for a working touchpad and SSD and Mac caché.

    Must confess I am a small screen portability junky though. Standard res 13.3" screens dont interest me and higher resolution 13.3 only slightly as the size trade off is not worth it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Apple are ripping you off

      giving you a surplus accent instead of the letter you are paying for.

      Demand your full cachet or you money back.

  3. Craig 12

    It disappoints me how slowly the mobile area is progressing. My 13.3 laptop from 5 years ago is still lighter and more powerful than most, with a better res and battery life than this "ultra" book.

    What's the superlative after "ultra", I'll wait for one of those.

    1. Brian 6

      @Craig 12

      "My 13.3 laptop from 5 years ago is still lighter and more powerful than most..." In no way what so ever is your 5 year old laptop more powerful than an I7 based ultrabook. As for your old laptop being lighter than an ultrabook, that's just a stupid thing to say.

      1. Craig 12

        Yes, my old laptop is/was a high end sony model. It is still working flawlessly and outperforms, and is lighter than, *most* new *laptops*. Not all models of every computer-type. If you're going to be pedantic, learn to extrapolate the true meaning of the post first! But yes, it would give most modern ultrabooks a run for their money- hence my disappointment that 5 years on, things like battery life/screen res are worse..

        How come you're so sure of yourself with no facts, yet you call me a liar and stupid?

    2. N13L5

      Its going to take them two years to get ultrabooks right

      Right now, we're getting served the early adopter models... you know... early adopters... those guys with the arrows sticking out of their backs.

      Some of these Ultrabooks (thinking of a recent Samsung model) have a worse, smaller screen and are basically like skinny netbooks with faster CPUs, and at the same time they are heavier than a Sony VAIO VPC SA model at 1.6kg, which has 1600x900 resolution, optical drive, i7, powerful HD6630M GPU, 3G module and backlit keyboard, and costs less.

      Do we really care that much how many millimeters thick they are? I mean sure, I'll always be happy to take a lighter, thinner computer, but not at the cost of essentials.

      And when the super skinny units are heavier than a slightly thicker one with more features, I stop caring at all...

      But everybody just has to follow Apple, its a mass hysteria like we haven't seen since the crusades?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apples and oranges

    Sure, this light-sleep mode sounds like one of the best things since sliced bread, but it's not a replacement for hibernate unless it doesn't slowly consume battery power, and lose all your data should the battery run out, so we still need hibernate from time to time. Out of interest, are there any details on how this light-sleep mode differs from the normal sleep?

  5. Greencat

    Macbook air comparison continued...

    The Macbook Air's fan (which rarely comes on) is pretty quiet too. Slower cpu though (i5). Plus almost anything is better than an Acer (I have had two die on me just outside of warranty).

  6. Fuzz

    A £900 laptop shouldn't have parts that aren't quite right, it shouldn't have a keyboard that takes getting used to or a touchpad that is next to useless or a fan that gives you tinnitus. I also don't think it should have a screen where the resolution is a compromise.

    We can maybe forgive using a spinning disk (I notice the review doesn't mention the SSD cache or how well it works) but the rest of this stuff needs to be fixed before people are prepared to shell out this amount of money for an Acer laptop.

  7. Tom 79

    Working it out myself

    "So the fact that the S3 is several hundred pounds cheaper than a MacBook Air while offering double the storage is something you’ll have to work out for yourself."

    Because a 5400rpm mechanical is just as fast as a SSD.

  8. NoneSuch
    Thumb Up

    "But before I go further, be aware that the obergruppenführers at Reg Hardware have declared that direct comparisons between the Acer Aspire S3 Ultrabook at Apple’s MacBook Air are not welcome. 'Just review the product in front of you', they said, 'otherwise the readers will write you off as an Apple fanboi.'"

    Actually, comparisons to Apple products don't upset me when you look at things like resolution or HD speed, etc. It is when Apple products (or indeed ANY manufacturer) are set up as a preeminent standard by a reviewer that gets my nerves raw. Present the reader with the specs, the good and the bad and let folks make up their own mind about what they want on their desk. That is the core of objective reporting in my mind and most reviews on the Reg achieve that nicely.

  9. Wile E. Veteran
    Thumb Down


    Is there ANY manufacturer out there who offers a laptop/notebook/netbook with a keyboard having properly-shaped keys? It seems everybody is chasing the fruit and offering chiclet keys on the keyboard although there is a little shaping on some of the relatively better ones. Sheesh, there has not been a really good keyboard on a portable in over a decade and they keep getting worse and worse.

    Just because the fruit does it does not make it a good idea!!!

    I will happily trade off CPU speed and hard-disk capacity for a really good keyboard since I write a lot but never play video games or "consume" video media. My ancient Dell Latitude CPi had a pretty decent keyboard, why cannot any of the current lappie makers?

    1. dogged


      I'm using a Dell Latitude E6510 to type this response. It's beefed up with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD and has a discrete nVidia GFX chip in it. I call it the Dell Attitude.

      Screen res - only tossers complain about that. This thing's 1600x900 works for me. Weight - what am I, a fairy? A schoolgirl? I should worry about having to carry something heavier than my phone? OH NOEZ POOR ME wait, actually, so it weighs like 2KG - who cares? If a 100KG man can't carry a 2KG laptop bag, he should hand in his man-card and take up embroidery.

      It's not shiny, it's not pretty. So what? Neither am I; should I complain and get plastic surgery? Or should I be more concerned with, you know, functionality?

      (Every time you talk about function over form, a fanboi dies. Don't clap your hands three times, please. Let them die.)

      But the reason I posted this in reply to you - it's got a proper keyboard. With proper keys.

      My advice is - man up, get a proper laptop. This thin slivers of shiny are for people who don't do work.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        bullshit that phrase "are for people who don't do work". i have to carry at least two laptops with me everywhere i go sometimes three - i am a consultant. for customer work i.e. customer laptops i never need a monster like yours. it would be nice if they'd be as thin as a macbook air, because i could just toss them in a normal oversized laptop bag. I don't care about the weight, my magic laptop bag weighs sometimes 15 Kg(!), but the thickness is a big problem. If I take a plane I'd rather have all of them in one bag instead of carrying extra non-cabin luggage.

        Personally I have an alienware laptop with 1900x1600 for work, but not all customers agree to vpn connections.

        1. Wile E. Veteran

          Diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks.

          Obviously, in your line of work size and weight are more critical than k/b or other factors. Good on ya' mate!

          Almost by definition, laptops are compromise machines and each model represents a tradeoff of features. I just hope one or more manufacturers makes a model with _my_ preferred set of tradeoffs. Chasing the fruit does not accomplish that end.

    2. Mike Campbell 1

      When ?


      Well said. I'm with you on this. Most laptop K/Bs are inadequate & you really have to search for contoured keys. That said, you can always compromise with an external K/B since you write a lot. But why should you ? Chiclet keys should have died with the PC Jr. Even Apple are knocking out cheap & nasty K/Bs.

      Laptop's Nov issue reviews many laptops & gave high praise to the Lenovo ThinkPad X1's K/B.

      And at 1,300 bucks I should think so.

      Overall, the reviewers at The Reg/Macworld/Engadget/Pocket-Lint et al are far too generous in their praise for devices that are scarely fit for purpose. Sharp edges that cut off your hands, poor K/Bs, low storage, trackpads which don't work, craplets etc.

      Get the fundamentals right & then focus on looking pretty.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    one to avoid then...

    For me, keyboard and mouse control are an absolute essential part of any laptop experience - they can make or break an otherwise decent machine.

    I recently sold an HP laptop I bought after just 2 months of use, such was my utter annoyance at the terrible keyboard and trackpad - worst of all, the reviews for the model were all extremely positive. Evidentially, none of the reviews were programmers or touch typists.

    I also owned, not too long ago, a MacBook pro. Financial woes led me to flog that baby - it was an incredible laptop, but even with all the so-called genius apple design behind it, the keyboard and trackpad still ... sucked. I ended up attaching an external keyboard and mouse.

    Probably the single best keyboard/trackpad experience I've had in a laptop was the Thinkpad T60 - the designers *understood* function over form - the keyboard was a joy to type on and the trackpad just did it's thing.

    It seems these days, for the most part, it's form over function - sure looks pretty, but the UI sucks.

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