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10/29/2011

Acer Aspire S bridges gap between tablets and laptops

 

AspireS3_01One of the greatest things about tablets like the Apple iPad is just how fast they come to life. Press the power button and boom - you can instantly tap an app to life, spontaneously Google a local restaurant or browse your email.

The same can’t be said for laptops - until now. Before, you’d have to wait for the computer to come out of sleep mode, which could take anywhere from 45 seconds to a couple of minutes.

But a new wave of laptops - known as Ultrabooks - are stepping up their game.

One of the fist is the Acer Aspire S Ultrabook.

 

The first thing you may notice is that this Ultrabook weighs in at at a measly 2.98 lbs. and is roughly a half-inch thick, putting it in the MacBook Air class.

The Aspire S is made of an aluminum/magnesium chassis which keeps the weight down but lends a sturdy body.

But let’s get right to the guts of the computer - what makes this laptop an Ultrabook. One feature is the second-generation Intel Core i5 processor which usually clocks in at 1.6Ghz but can jump up to 2.3Ghz with adaptive Turbo Boost technolgy

Also stocked is 4GB of DDR3 dual-channel RAM and two hard drives: One is a 320 GB traditional hard disk drive, the other is a 20 GB SSD (solid state drive).

The latter has no moving parts and helps this Ultrabook achieve its tablet-like instant-on abilities. So when the computer goes into sleep mode, it stores its current state on the SSD drive. Open the lid and the computer comes back to life within two seconds.

If you’re used to the restore times of traditional laptops, the instant-on feature is quite remarkable.

The 13.3-inch widescreen is quite thin, but in bright light conditions it can be challenging to see the display comfortably.. That’s not a major problem, however, if you plug the Ultrabook in to another display (such as a larger LCD TV) using the full-size HDMI plug.

I liked the positioning of hte power button just above the F3 button but angled vertically, making it tough to accidentally press it while moving the computer when it’s flipped open.

The multi-gesture touch pad is sufficient. While its flat appearance is good-looking, I personally prefer physical buttons so I know exactly where I’m clicking (or right-clicking).

The Aspire S is among the new wave of Ultrabooks slated to fill the niche between convenient tablets and powerful, full-featured laptops.

If its $899 price tag falls into your budget, this should fill a niche nicely.
- Maurice Cahco, MSN Tech & Gadgets

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Danny BradburyDanny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury is a technology journalist with 20 years' experience. He writes regularly for publications including the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Financial Post, and Backbone magazine. Danny also writes and directs documentaries.

Maurice CachoMaurice Cacho

Maurice Cacho is a Toronto-based journalist mixing his love for tech with a passion for news. He's also CP24's Web Journalist and appears daily on CP24 Breakfast and weekly on the channel's tech show, Webnation, discussing tech news and trends.

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