Acer's Aspire S3: Simply brilliant or too simple?
3.8Overall Score
Price (RRP): $1599 Manufacturer: Acer

One of the first Ultrabooks to be announced last year, the Acer Aspire S3 aims to bring simplicity, speed, and solid state storage for a little over fifteen hundred. Does it succeed, or is it a little too simple for its own needs?

Features

Designed to be thin and stylish, the Aspire S3 continues the trend of metallic simplicity that started when Apple first unveiled its MacBook Air. The S3 features a brushed aluminium lid, with the rest of the body made up of grey plastic.

Thirteen inch laptops seems to be the main type of Ultrabook coming out, and the Aspire S3 is no different. This laptop features a 13.3 inch LED backlit screen showing a resolution of 1366×768.

Like many of the Ultrabooks being released, the specs are pretty much standard fare. For our review Aspire S3, this included a 1.6GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB RAM, and a 256GB solid state drive with a little under 200GB available to you.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Windows 7 takes much of this up, with Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit the operating system of choice out of the blue.

Wireless connectivity includes 802.11 b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0, while wired options feature two USB 2.0 ports, one HDMI, and an SD card slot.

A 1.3 megapixel webcam is included with microphone, as well as a combined headphone and microphone 3.5mm port. Sound is provided from two speakers and the battery is a 3-cell.

Performance

Starting the computer up for the first time, you can really see the Core i5 and solid-state drive work hard, bringing the machine out from a cold boot and into Windows in under thirty seconds.

In fact, it was 22 seconds from powered down to Windows and a little over a second to bring the computer back from standby, proving just how quick the combination of parts can be, something we’d expect in an Ultrabook.

The look of the Aspire S3 is fairly subdued, and it’s a look we like. Like the MacBook Air, brushed metal looks excellent, although on the S3, it’s mostly a look. Instead of keeping with an all-metal body, Acer has only used metal on the display list, going with plastic for everything else.

While we’re a little concerned about the durability of the machine, comfort appears to have won out, the plastic providing a comfortable wrist rest.

Out of the few Ultrabooks we’ve reviewed, the S3 also wins points for having one of the better keyboards thus far. You don’t need a heavy touch with the Acer, the keys making a satisfying click with every press – light or hard.

It’s fairly obvious that the button-less trackpad has been inspired from the laptop mice Apple uses on its computers, although it’s also nice to see that Acer hasn’t forgotten about right clicking either. Multitouch gestures like pinch-to-zoom and two finger scrolling do work, though it seems to take a second or two for the drivers to notice what you’re doing and respond.