Acer Aspire S3 is aces - review

2012-08-28 10:15
The Acer Aspire S3 ultrabook performs at the top end of the laptop range. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

The Acer Aspire S3 ultrabook performs at the top end of the laptop range. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - The Acer Aspire S3 is a small notebook with a big heart. It has a pretty face with the metallic finish, but make no mistake - this one tough little computer.

Using the Aspire is a pleasure and the device is fast, driven by the Intel Core i5 processor and 4GB of RAM.

Traditionally, Windows users are frustrated by the slow start-up of computers, but this laptop boots up from cold in under 10 seconds.

The Acer comes with a 300GB SSD hard drive that speeds the Windows 7 operating system up significantly so that computing on the go becomes a reality.

And does it go: The battery easily lasts a whole day with normal use and it's easier to carry for road warriors than traditional laptops at a shade under 1.4kg.


The design includes recessed speakers that don't compromise on quality and even watching movies on the move was pleasant on the 33cm screen.

There is no optical drive as is become standard in this area of machine to save battery power and Acer has included two USB ports as well as a built in card reader to load content on the device.

There's also an HDMI port and the Aspire surprises in how quiet it operates, yet remains comfortable on the lap during use.

For online chats, the Aspire has a 1.3 megapixel webcam and it employs a clever screen flash to take pictures.

So is the Acer Aspire the best laptop ever? Probably not: The small keys didn't quite work for big fingers - particularly the placement of the cursor keys and "\" and "Enter" keys.

There is no standard network port, but the device has built in Wi-Fi and a USB adaptor in the box. As would be expected on a premium device, it also has Bluetooth to exchange content with other devices.

Still, the computer performs better than most traditional office machines and the inclusion of a multi-function touch pad will no doubt support the next version of Windows as well.


Tablets are driving sales at the moment while PC sales are down, but ultrabooks may be the salvation of the sector because they have much more space to improve than tablet computers.

As the costs of these computers come down, they may provide some real competition to the growth of tablets as media consuming devices.

According to industry research firm Gartner, Acer reclaimed the number one spot in notebook shipments globally with a 15.4% market share.

The Acer Aspire S3 has a recommended retail price of R8 999 and it is refreshing to see that even the AC adaptor has a standard three pin plug for the South African market.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter


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