A powerful thin and light laptop from Acer.
Ultrabooks, Intel's name for thin and light laptops, tend to be sleek and eye-catching. While the Acer Aspire S3 ultrabook is certainly very slender, its dull grey appearance is far less attractive in the flesh than it is in photos, although some may prefer the less flashy look.
The bottom half of the S3 feels robust and well-made, but the screen flexes under pressure quite easily. It is light though at 1.4kg, so it's easy to carry around. As with other ultrabooks, the battery is sealed. Acer doesn't quote battery life figures, but the battery lasted seven hours and 17 minutes in our web-browsing test. While this is good, it isn't significantly longer than many 11.6in ultrabooks which have smaller batteries.
We were underwhelmed by the keyboard. Although the keys are large, with the exception of the arrow keys which are smaller than the rest, they feel shallow so it's not always clear from touch alone if you've successfully pressed the right key. This can lead to typos. The touchpad is large though and moving the pointer feels smooth and accurate. The buttons are built into the corners of the touchpad, but these didn't feel too awkward or clumsy to press.
The 13.3in display doesn't have the best image quality, but it is bright. The 1,366x768 pixel resolution is fine for most tasks, although a higher-resolution screen would have been even better for seeing more detail.
It's a shame neither of the two USB ports support the fast USB3 standard, but there is a memory card slot for copying photos from a digital camera as well as a full-sized HDMI port for connecting another monitor. Where the S3 really excels is performance – the 1.6GHz Core i7 2637M processor and 4GB of memory make this the fastest ultrabook we've seen yet. Also present is a 240GB solid state disk (SSD) which is big for a SSD.
The Aspire S3 isn't a bad ultrabook, but its keyboard and battery life could be better and the lack of USB3 ports could be limiting in future.
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The Aspire S3 looks like good value on paper, but it's actually not much better than other thin and light laptops
Fast performance; large SSD; reasonably long battery life
No USB3 ports; poor keyboard
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