Apple Inc., known for being a trendsetter, has continued along those lines with its new lighter and thinner MacBook Air. But the Cupertino company is facing competition in notebook category from Taiwan-based Acer, which has released its thin and relatively inexpensive Ultrabook called Aspire S3.
Since Apple released the first MacBook Air in 2008, the device has come to define what it means to be avant-garde in its category, and the latest MacBook Air is no exception -- sporting a sleek thin aluminum frame, a full-sized keyboard and screen and no moving parts.
Not to be outdone though, Acer has introduced its Aspire S3 Ultrabook at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin. The release date of the Acer Aspire S3 for the U.S. market is unveiled yet.
The Aspire S3, which is priced at 799 euros, will start to roll out in select regions in September and ramp-up in October, and is expected to become Acer's star product during the fourth quarter.
Quick Look at Specifications:
13.3-inch Acer Aspire S3
Dimensions: 0.51-inch thick, 2.87 pounds, aerodynamic metal design, aluminum/magnesium alloy chassis
Display: 13.3-inch, 1366x768 resolution
Processor: Three versions of Sandy Bridge to be made available, namely the Core i3, i5 and i7; Intel Core i7 2637M 1.7GHz processor
RAM: 4 GB
Storage: 240 GB SSD or 320/500 GB HDD
Connector: two USB ports, HDMI port, AC adapter port, 3.5mm audio jack, SD card slot
Battery: lasts up to seven hours
OS: Windows 7
Price: Under $1,000
13.3-inch MacBook Air:
Dimensions: 0.68 inches thick, 2.96 pounds, aluminum
Display: 13.3-inch, 1440x900 resolution
Processor: 1.7 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 to 1.8 GHz dual-core Intel Core i7
RAM: 4 GB
Storage: 128 GB or 256 GB Flash Storage
Connector: two USB 2.0 ports, Thunderbolt, headphone port, MagSafe power port, SD card slot
Battery: Internal battery rated at seven hours
OS: OS X Lion 10.7
The first MacBook Air boasted of being the world's thinnest laptop at the time of introduction. But it will be overtaken by the Acer Aspire S3 when it gets released, which is just 0.51 inches thick at the maximum, less than the new MacBook Air's 0.68-inch thickness.
Add to that, the aerodynamic design of the Aspire S3 features a strong and lightweight aluminum/magnesium alloy chassis, and a lid with a fingerprint-free metal finish that feels as smooth as silk.
Aspire S3 has Acer Green Instant On, which delivers ultra-fast responsiveness, energy efficiency and enhanced power management, and Acer Instant Connect, which provides access to the Internet in just 2.5 seconds -- four times faster than conventional connections -- so users can go faster for better productivity and infotainment enjoyment.
Flash gives MacBook Air the astonishing ability to remain in standby mode for up to 30 days. But, for the Aspire S3, the standby time lasts up to 50 days with energy-conscious innovations.
Both the MacBook Air and the Acer Aspire S3 are built on top of Intel's Sandy Bridge architecture, giving them both the latest processor technology, among other things. But they differ in one very important detail.
The Macbook Air uses a low-voltage version of Intel's Core i5 processor that could be upgradeable to Intel Core i7. This is typical for ultra-portable notebooks, and is par for the course. But Acer was able to squeeze a full-powered i3 or i5 or i7 processor into Aspire S3's diminutive body.
The Aspire S3 features a vent-free bottom so the notebook rests comfortably on the user's lap. Warm components are smartly placed away from the palmrest and touchpad area, so users won't feel any heat discomfort.
Further innovation is offered via a new airflow design that dissipates warm air from the rear of the notebook, preventing air from blowing towards the user's hands. Finally, in Aspire S3, the fan motor is optimized to enhance efficiency and lower power consumption to help increase system battery life.
Both the notebooks has 4GB RAM space. But when it comes to storage space, MacBook Air offers 128 GB or 256 GB flash storage compared to Aspire S3's 240 GB SSD or 320/500 GB HDD.
In addition, the new MacBook Air comes with Apple's new OS X Lion, which has been declared by the company as the the world's most advanced desktop operating system, touting the addition of more than 250 new features. On the other hand, Aspire S3 has Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system.
The new MacBook Air is priced at $1,299 for the 128GB storage model and $1,599 for 256GB model. On the other hand, the Aspire S3 is expected to be priced under $1,000.
Other Aspire S3 Features
Packing professionally-tuned Dolby Home Theater v4, the Aspire S3 delivers vibrant, cinema-style surround sound and enhanced dialogue quality for optimum listening experiences. Standard HDMI output is also included for connecting the Aspire S3 to popular HD peripheral devices for high-def digital/video playback and extension.
Furthermore, users can quickly and easily share data or download photos from their digital cameras using the 2-in-1 card reader that supports SD Cards and MultiMediaCard.
On-the-go users can keep in touch with friends and colleagues with high-clarity video conferences thanks to the integrated Acer Crystal Eye 1.3-megapixel camera and microphone -- with superior Wi-Fi connections guaranteed by Acer InviLink Nplify 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi CERTIFIED technology. Wireless convenience is enhanced by the addition of latest-generation Bluetooth 4.0+HSR technology with lower power consumption.
Ultrabook is a term coined by Intel to describe an emerging group of exceptionally thin and lightweight ultraportable laptops that have excellent battery life, mainstream performance and tablet-like features such as instant-on functionality. Intel expects 40 percent of the consumer laptop market segment will be Ultrabooks by the end of 2012.