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Acer Aspire S3 ships for $899 to rival new MacBook Air

updated 09:30 am EDT, Mon October 10, 2011

Acer Aspire S3 ultrabook reaches US

Acer claimed the distinction of being the first to ship to the US outside of Apple in Intel's new ultrabook category by proving launch details for the Aspire S3. The very thin 13-inch notebook will try to undercut Apple on price by carrying an $899 price tag when it ships to the US and Canada this week. The base trim gives it a low-power Core i5 along with 4GB of RAM and a rare mix of both a 20GB SSD for speed and a 320GB rotating drive for space.

Potentially cheaper systems with Core i3s, as well as faster Core i7 models, will also be coming, Acer said.

The design is consciously intended to replicate the appeal of the MacBook Air and has a similar aluminum, three-pound chassis. Acer promises a fast 2.5-second wake from sleep time and a long 50 days of standby. Its design makes some sacrifices to get to the lower price, including a lower 1366x768 screen resolution and a shorter six-hour battery life.

A launch for the Aspire S3 follows just a day before the ASUS UX launch and is potentially the real gauge of whether or not the ultrabook category can survive outside of Apple. The two Taiwan-area PC builders have reportedly planned small shipment numbers both to test the waters and as a suspicion that Apple may have cornered the audience.

Apple's base system costs more and has a smaller 11-inch screen, but it also uses only solid-state storage and is much lighter at 2.3 pounds. The 13-inch model is more expensive but uses a bigger 128GB flash drive.

By Electronista Staff


  1. Mr. Strat

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Jan 2002



    Since it's Acer, you know the quality will be as low as possible.

  1. Paul Huang

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Sep 1999


    If you look at it in person, you will notice that.

    The rubber spacers are there not because it is needed, because if you remove them, it wouldn't have closed evenly anyway. Remember the PowerBook/MBP aluminum? Yup, now Apple has perfected the process, they are just about 7 years behind.

    $100 less to get less resolution and spinning hard drive and poor quality. Oh, let's not forget Windows, which is a one-way street. Is that an advantage?

    Oh, wait until you see the power adapter.

  1. Inkling

    Senior User

    Joined: Jul 2006


    One good move

    In a blundering way, Acer made one good move, that "rare mix of both a 20GB SSD for speed and a 320GB rotating drive for space."

    I can't see a reason for that on a MacBook Air. It's intended to be light and fast. The hard drive keeps it from being light and a mere 20 GB SSD won't make it fast. But merging the two in desktops and the larger laptops makes a lot of sense. People want SSDs, but SSD's are too expensive for the storage capacity most people need.

    Apple would get raves reviews if they combined the two in a way that:

    1. Was smart enough to dynamically shift the most-used apps, and most recently used documents on to an SSD. Copies of everything could be kept on the HD for backup.

    2. Did so in a way that is invisible to users, meaning that the file structure still appears to be the same.

    3. Did so with the SSD and HD as separate hardware, so each could be upgraded or replaced without changing out the other. No one wants to have to replace a SSD worth $500 because a hard drive worth $99 has gone bad.

    4. Make this an OS X feature rather than making it hardware-based. That'd make it immediately available to existing two-drive bay Macs and those with fast I/o through Thunderbolt.

    It'd make all Macs a dream to use.

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