Acer Aspire S3 Ultrabook Review (Model: S3-391-32364G52A)

The Acer S3 is a super sleek ultrabook which is aimed at the budget user. Weighing just around 1.35 kg and being 18mm thick (at the thickest point) the Aspire S3 looks similar to the Apple MacBook Air in terms of styling. I purchased the above model for $420 ($499 – $79 Acer Rebate) in Australia (April, 2013). This particular model comes with a champagne color aluminum casing with high contrast black color island style keys with white letters. The champagne tint gives the notebook a very unique look and sets it apart from other ultrabooks that use traditional silver or chrome tints.

Acer_S3-391-32364G52A_UltraBook

My S3 is equipped with a 500 GB hard drive that also houses a 20GB SSD drive. The  SSD drive is not visible in Windows Device Manager as a separate drive. The SSD drive is used to speedup windows start-up, sleep/resume and shutdown times by caching important OS files. According to Acer the S3 can resume from sleep with in 1.5 seconds. Acer calls this feature as Instant On. When I tested this feature the timing was close but not consistent. I was able to resume in 2-5 seconds.

The S3 comes with a button less multi-gesture touchpad which is large and very responsive. If you are used to a touchpad with buttons then you might find the S3 touchpad awkward at first, but you’ll get used to it in no time. The 3 cell battery on the S3 is not removable and you will have to open the casing to access the battery.

Ports

Considering its size and thickness the S3 comes with a decent set of ports.

  1. Headphone jack on the left side
  2. A SD card slot on the right
  3. 2 USB ports, 1 full size HDMI port and power socket on the back.

Pros

  1. The S3 is remarkably cool, thanks to the rear fan design (on the side at the back of the computer) that sucks air from vents in the keyboard and pushes them out. This means you will not notice any heat during typing on the keyboard and surrounding areas. Due to this design Acer has requested that no keyboard cover should be placed on the S3 as it will affect the ventilation mechanism.
  2. Super light and super slim, highly portable machine
  3. Nice looks, I like to call it “Poor Mans MacBook Air”
  4. Full HD webcam
  5. Large and responsive touch pad
  6. The casing does not attract finger prints

Cons

  1. While Acer claims a battery life of up to 7 hours, in reality you will get only 3 – 4 hours of use doing tasks such as web surfing, using MS Office applications and watching some YouTube videos.
  2. The SD card slot does not have spring load and lock mechanism. This means almost half off the SD card will project out not allowing you to keep the card inside the computer during travel. You will have to remove the SD card before placing your laptop inside a sleeve or bag.
  3. The 1366 x 768 display has limited viewing angles and is very glossy showing lots of reflections. Therefore the S3 is not suitable for extended outdoor use.
  4. Small arrow (navigation) keys
  5. Fan is noisy, especially for an ultrabook

Verdict

For the price Acer S3 offers an amazing value for money to the budget user. While the battery life is not great, the ultra portability of the S3 makes its a good mobile computer.

Specs at a Glance

- Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium
- 2nd Generation Intel® Core™ i3-2367M processor (1.3/1.4GHz, 3MB L3 cache )
- 4GB DDR3 1066 Memory (non expandable)
- 500GB hard drive with 20GB SSD
- 13.3″ HD Widescreen CineCrystal™ LCD display with 1366 x 768 resolution
- Intel® HD Graphics 3000
- high-definition audio support with two stereo speakers
- webcam
- multi-gesture button less touchpad
- 802.11b/g/n WLAN – Bluetooth
- USB 3.0 Ports
- HDMI® – 2-in-1 card reader
- 3-cell battery
- 1-year limited warranty

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