I know, I know, this is late, but I finally got around to testing out Acer's Ultrabook the Aspire S3. (It's been available for about a month now.)
If it feels like everyone is making a MacBook Air competitor these days, you're right. PC makers are really pushing the new "Ultrabook" category, playing off the Air's massive success.
Acer is one of the first to crank one out. Read on to see what I thought.
When I first pulled the Aspire out of the box, I was pretty impressed. It's heavier than my MacBook Air, but still felt solid and well-built.
Then I opened the lid.
First, the screen hinge is pretty loose. When I'd rest the Aspire on my lap while sitting on the couch or in bed, it'd flip open to the point it was almost flush with the bottom portion. That got really annoying when trying to do work or watch a movie on Netflix.
The keyboard was a real bummer. The pebble-sized arrow keys are difficult to hit, which normally wouldn't be a problem except the Aspire uses them to control volume and brightness. That makes it a huge pain to adjust those settings.
And while the rest of the keyboard felt normal, the keys are still cheap and plasticky. It's nowhere near as nice as the typing experience on the MacBook Air.
I'm not a huge Windows fan, so I won't spend time griping about the typical annoyances of bloatware, malware, and other nasty stuff. Just know you're getting Windows 7 and all the problems that come with it.
Now that that's out of the way, time to focus on what applies solely to the Aspire:
First of all, boot up time was atrocious. Part of the allure of all these new Ultrabooks is supposed to be rapid bootups and app launches. Instead, I had to wait over a minute to get to the desktop after switching the Aspire on. Compare that to the 15 seconds my MacBook Air takes to get cranking.
The Aspire's battery life is no better. According to Acer, the battery should last up to seven hours. It didn't even come close to that for me. I was able to squeeze out four hours, tops. Pretty disappointing.
Maybe I'm just spoiled by the spot-on accuracy of the MacBook Air's touchpad, but the Aspire's trackpad is an abomination in comparison. Two-finger scrolling is there, but it's hardly perfect. The cursor doesn't sit still when scrolling, so I was forced to switch back to one finger and reposition it on my screen so I cloud continue. Annoying.
Eventually I got fed up and started using clicking on the scrollbar's arrows to navigate web pages. It felt so 2000.
On the upside, I was happy to see Acer added an HDMI port to the Aspire, something I think too many laptops and other Ultrabooks are missing. If you like to use your computer to store a bunch of movies, or turn it into a streaming Boxee player, the HDMI port is a giant plus. I wish my MacBook had that.
Should You Buy It?
The Aspire S3 starts at $899, which is a lot more attractive than the hefty price of the $1,300+ 13-inch MacBook Air.
Still, I'm not sure the cheaper price makes up for the equally as cheap build quality and other annoyances mentioned above. There are plenty of other great Ultrabooks out there from Asus, Samsung, and Toshiba. They may be pricier, but you can bet they'll last longer.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
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