Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Acer Aspire S3

Ultrabooks. Intel Ultrabook's is a new specification of laptop being promoted by Intel. An ultrabook should meet the following specifications:
  • Thin – less than 20 mm (0.8 inch) thickness
  • Lightweight – less than 1.4 kg (3.1 pounds)
  • Long battery life – 5 to 8+ hours
  • Mainstream pricing – under $1,000 USD (for base model)
Ultrabooks are not really all that new. In the 13-inch arena, Apple has its MacBook Air, Sony its Vaio Z, Toshiba its R series laptops, and most lately Samsung has joined the fray with its Series 9. What is common with all these laptops is that they combine 13-inch displays with a weight of 3-pounds or less.

Access to these type of devices has been rather limited. The Sony Vaio Z2 is just an amazing 2.5 pounds, and from a technology standpoint, is by the far the most amazing ultraportable laptop we have even seen. It's price point at over Php100K also ensures that few people will actually get to use it. Toshiba R series laptops are only available occasionally in the Philippines, and are sold at price tags which seem rather inflated when we look at the retail prices abroad. The MacBook Air is actually the 13-inch value for money proposition among the this bunch.

When an Apple laptop is the value for money proposition, well that tells you entering this club is expensive. How much? If you want a 13-inch/3-pound laptop, you have to be willing to shell out over 60K.

So why the Ultrabook? Someone wrote that Intel's Ultrabook's are Intel's answer to the MacBook Air.  That it a utterly ridiculous statement. MacBook Air's run on Intel parts too.The Ultrabook is Intel's answer to the growing threat posed to the personal computer and the x86 architecture by tablets and their Arm processors. 

Every tablet sold might mean, one laptop or netbook that does not get sold. The main advantage to a tablet as a portable device is weight. The typical 10-inch tablet weighs in a 1.6 pounds, with the best examples coming in at about 1.3 pounds. They are also very thin, so they are easy to slip into bags and briefcases.

Once you go outside the the elite of the 13-inch ultraportables above, your typical 13-inch laptop weighs between 3.8 to 4.5 pounds. With the Ultrabook, Intel is hoping that be shedding a bit of the weight and the girth can convince potential tablet buyers to switch to the laptop. At the same time, Intel hope the new for factor, can convince those with 3-5 year old laptops who have not been convinced to upgrade to a newer faster model, that an upgrade to lighter thinner model is worth their money. 

This 13.3-inch laptop is an imprssive 0.51-inches thick and weighs in at 2.89-pound Aspire. Price is US$899, which puts it US$400 less than a 13-inch MacBook Air.

Inside this slim frame is a Core i5-2467M processor, Intel’s integrated HD graphics, and 4GB of RAM and 340GB of storage.  With 340GB of storage, the US$899 Acer Aspire S3 is really more of a competitor to the US$1599 13-inch MacBook Air with a 256GB SSD drive. This makes it all of US$700 cheaper.  

Acer got the price down by using a flash and hard drive combo. A 20GB SSD to house the Windows 7 Home Premium OS as a hibernation partition and a 320GB, 5400RPM hard drive other tasks.  Apple's US$1,299 level 13-inch MacBook Air use a more expensive 128GB SSD drive. The US$1599 13-inch MacBook Air use a 256GB SSD drive.

If this is what ultrabooks have in store, I think it might be enough to convince some would be tablet buyers that a laptop is still a better option. Problem is, my opinion on the matter is not worth all that much. I write a lot for a living, a blog for a hobby. I need a dedicated keyboard. So a tablet it out for me. I have a second generation (late 2010) MacBook Air with a 256GB SSD, so it is a bit early for me to consider an upgrade. But yes, I am sold on the ultrabook concept. I love the Air's and the Vaio Z's.

But that is me. This thing should hit the market at about 45K. So what do you all think? Is it cheap enough? Will this keep you from buying a tablet? Is it enough for you to want to upgrade your current laptop?

Update: It looks like it launches in the Philippines at the same time anywhere else. Yugatech reports that it is in the Philippines, now at Php44,900.

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