Acer Aspire S3

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 Acer Aspire S3

Overview

The first-generation ultrabook war is getting bloody, with the Toshiba Satellite Z830 and Lenovo Ideapad U300S emerging from the pits to take on the Asus Zenbook and this machine, the Acer Aspire S Series. This four-way battle royale should be a fierce contest, but can Acer do enough to beat down the super-thin-yet-powerful laptop competition?

The Taiwanese company certainly has experience producing every variety of laptop, from the ultra-portable Timeline range of models such as the Acer Aspire Timeline X 3820TZ to the mighty Ethos multimedia machines including the Acer Aspire Ethos 5943G.

One of its dinkiest offerings yet, the 13.3-inch Acer Aspire S3-951 is an appealing prospect for regular travellers.

The Intel Core i7 2637M version we tested is priced at £900 in the UK and costs $1300 in the US (where it has the more specific name of Acer Aspire S3-951-6432), which is enticing, considering the impressive specs list.

A less powerful Core i5 model can be bought for £700 in the UK, while in the US there are three cheaper Core i5 machines, two of which cost $900, while one retails at $1199.

Acer aspire s3-951 review

At 1.38kg, the Acer Aspire S3-951 is a similar weight to the other ultrabooks and just slips in under Intel’s specified 1.4kg ultrabook weight. Even a skinny eight-year-old could carry this laptop around all day, although we wouldn’t trust some whippersnapper with a piece of kit like this.

With a thickness of 19mm at its widest point, the Acer Aspire S3-951 may not be as size-zero slender as the Toshiba Satellite Z830 or Asus Zenbook UX21, but it’s certainly thin enough to slide into a backpack, briefcase or even an oversized handbag.

However, even though the lid is impressively slim, it’s also tough enough to take a pounding. There’s almost no flex in the centre, so the display remains protected even when the laptop is bumping around in a bag. The brushed aluminium surface repels fingerprints and other marks, keeping it clean and shiny.

We were also pleased to see sturdy hinges, which hold the screen still even when you’re pounding the keyboard. This solid build quality continues throughout the rest of the chassis. We found no worrying weak spots, although we’re not convinced that the Acer Aspire S3-951 would survive a fall from a desk.

Acer aspire s3-951 review

One potential peril of compact laptops is that usability might suffer – the reduced chassis space means smaller keyboards, the nemesis of anyone with fat sausage fingers. Thankfully the Acer Aspire S3-951 doesn’t suffer too much from its stunted stature.

Shift and Ctrl keys are well-sized, although the Enter key is squashed into a single row and the arrow keys are almost comically tiny. Touch typing was a breeze. We bashed out emails and articles for hours at a time without our hands cramping up, and with minimal errors. While the shallow key travel is unavoidable, it isn’t as bad as the Asus Zenbook‘s (which feels like you’re tapping on a solid piece of plastic).

The Acer Aspire S3-951’s touchpad is also a decent size, but is cursed with integrated mouse buttons. Instead of having separate mouse buttons, you need to push the left and right corners of the pad down to simulate mouse clicks. Frankly, it’s a horrible experience.

Anyone who’s used one of these touchpads will know the deal. Often when you push the corners in to select a menu option, the cursor will skip across the screen, leading to incorrect menu selections. Considering how fiddly Windows menus can be, we came close to busting out the power tools and giving the Acer Aspire S3-951 a few new air vents.

Our advice is, stick to tapping the surface for mouse clicks. It’s a little hit and miss, but might save your blood pressure.

Specifications

Acer aspire s3-951 review

The Acer Aspire S3-951’s compact build means you’re stuck with a small screen, but the 13.3-inch display is perfectly serviceable for both business and pleasure. It isn’t the brightest screen ever, but the 1366 x 768-pixel resolution means images are sharp.

HD movies look crisp, if not particularly vibrant.

Although 13.3 inches doesn’t give you a huge viewing area for the latest blockbuster films, it’s perfectly fine when you’re on the move and sat right in front of your laptop. The sharp resolution is also perfect when you’re working on tables or spreadsheets.

However, the glossy Super-TFT finish is reflective, which is a hindrance if you want to use the Acer Aspire S3-951 outdoors. Anyone who’s regularly out and about will prefer the matt screen of the Toshiba Satellite Z830.

Acer aspire s3-951 review

Business users will be happy to see an HDMI port and two USB ports crammed onto the rear of the slender chassis. Accessing them is a little awkward, and fans of wired networking should check out the Toshiba Satellite Z830, which has a built-in Ethernet port. However, the Acer Aspire S3-951 is pretty much standard when it comes to ultrabooks.

If you have tons of files to lug around, you’ll need to use one of the USB ports to hook up an external hard drive. Despite the specs listing a 240GB solid state drive, the Acer Aspire S3-951 only reported 200GB of storage space available. This fills up far too quickly, especially if you’re hoping to carry some music or movies with you, although at least it gives you super speedy and reliable access to your data.

You also have an SD card reader for extra storage.

Aside from that, the Acer Aspire S3-951 is typically light on features. A 1.3MP webcam positioned just above the screen enables you to video chat with mates or colleagues, and that’s your lot. However, at least the Acer Aspire S3-951 doesn’t come laden with dozens of useless app trials that clog up your hard drive and constantly pester you with annoying pop-ups.

Performance

Acer aspire s3-951 review

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

Cinebench 10: 8,827
3D Mark ’06: 3,279
Battery Eater ’05: 149 minutes

The real selling point of the Acer Aspire S3-951 is the impressive set of components stuffed in its tiny gullet. Gone are the days of clunky low-voltage CPUs plaguing ultra-portable laptops.

The dual-core Intel Core i7 2637M processor stormed through our Cinebench tests, proving well matched to any task we threw at it.

Backed up by 4GB of memory, we had no problem multitasking with all kinds of software. Applications loaded quickly (helped in part by that speedy solid state drive) and ran smoothly. In fact, the Acer Aspire S3-951 proved to be the most powerful ultrabook we’ve reviewed, narrowly beating the Core i7 Asus Zenbook UX31.

Acer aspire s3-951 review

Graphical performance is dependable, thanks to the flexibility of the Sandy Bridge chipset. Although the GPU is integrated, it’s still capable of running multimedia software such as photo and video editing suites, without suffering from glitches or crashes.

Of course, you aren’t going to get any serious gaming done on an ultrabook. Older games will run as expected, and you won’t have any trouble smashing your mates at a game of online Scrabble. But try testing it with a recent FPS game and you’ll meet a stuttering mess.

Even when we ran fairly demanding software, we were impressed by how cool and quiet the Acer Aspire S3-951 remained. The SSD obviously helps, because there are no spinning discs to contend with. The area around the vents (positioned at the rear of the laptop) remains cool at all times.

Acer aspire s3-951 review

Unfortunately the battery life was a lot less impressive. We ran HD video on loop and were disappointed when the Acer Aspire S3-951 died after just 149 minutes. This isn’t a disastrous performance, but it is below average for a modern laptop – we usually get around three hours of movie action before the screen fades to black.

Considering this is an ultrabook built for portability, the result is even more disappointing. The Asus Zenbook, for example, survived for over four hours with the same test. If you’re looking for a new laptop, you’ll have to seriously consider what’s more important to you – performance or longevity.

Verdict

Acer aspire s3-951 review

We’ve tested the first generation of ultrabooks, and so far we’ve liked what we’ve seen.

This attractive blend of performance and portability might not be new (as Apple fanboys will be quick to point out), and we’re not sure why it’s taken Intel’s intervention to stimulate manufacturers into producing mini laptops such as the Acer Aspire S3-951. However, for anyone who’s a regular road hog, the ultrabook is an enticing prospect.

We liked

The Acer Aspire S3-951’s slender chassis may not be as stupefyingly thin or sleek as the Asus Zenbook, but it’s still compact enough to fit in almost any bag. It’s also impressively tough considering the girth, with a firm lid and tough body.

We were impressed by the excellent Intel Core i7 processor performance, and saw next to no slowdown when running several applications at once. Multimedia software runs fine, and the ultrabook starts up and shuts down in no time at all.

If you need a machine to bash out emails and documents on the move, the Acer Aspire S3-951’s keyboard will do the job. It isn’t too cramped, despite the compact frame, with the exception of the miniscule arrow keys.

We disliked

Unfortunately, for a laptop marketed on its portability, the Acer Aspire S3-951’s battery life is pants. Just two and a half hours of movie playback on a single charge is below average, even for a bog-standard entry-level laptop.

We also had massive issues with the touchpad. Those integrated mouse buttons are a massive pain, and we resorted to tapping the surface to select menu options instead.

Anyone with a huge media collection will need to cart around an external hard drive, because only 200GB of storage space is available on the 240GB SSD.

Final verdict

While the Acer Aspire S3-951 is a well-built and powerful ultrabook, which offers good value for money, we were more drawn to the Toshiba Satellite Z830 and the Asus Zenbook. However, a cut-price Core i5 version of the Acer Aspire S3-951 can be had if your budget is tight, and nobody will be disappointed by the excellent performance of this Core i7 model.

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Review: Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G

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These days we’re seeing a lot more slim and light ultraportable laptops. Rising up against these size zero models is the Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G.

Like the Dell XPS 15z and the Macbook Pro 17 inch, this is all about packing in huge amounts of power, and who cares if it’s on the chunky side. After all, as our mothers told us: it’s not the outside, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

As with the previous Ethos models, the Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G is an entertainment centre that’s designed to sit on your desk at home.

Crushing the scales at 4.2kg, you wouldn’t want to carry this laptop any further than the next room, to avoid popping a couple of vertebrae.

That said, we were impressed at how thin the Ethos is. Sure, 40mm can’t really be described as ‘thin’, when you consider that the Samsung 9000 series measures just a smidgen over 10mm. But considering the girth of this machine, it’s comparatively slender.

We also liked the smart design, which follows the XPS 15z’s mantra of ‘keep it simple’. The dark chassis has a brushed metal finish that spreads everywhere except the palmrests, and it looks as solid as it feels.

We didn’t find any hint of flex no matter how hard we poked and prodded, which is to be expected at this price point.

One of the most interesting new features of the Ethos 8951G is the detachable touchpad. In previous models, the touchpad converted to a media control panel at the press of a button.

This laptop has the same gimmick. One push of the corner gives you fast access to the Clear-Fi application, which is a media hub for enjoying your photos, films and music. Another press brings up the play, skip, pause and volume controls, and a third press returns the touchpad to normal.

On the previous models this was nice, but of limited use as you had to be sat in front of the Ethos to use it. However, the Ethos 8951G lets you remove the entire touchpad by flicking a switch, so you can use it from across the room to control your media.

It’s a smart idea that works well. Even when we positioned ourselves across the other side of the office, the laptop still responded perfectly to the infrared remote.

Of course, it isn’t a perfect solution. You’re limited to the basic pause/play/skip and volume controls, and if you wish to go full-screen or fiddle with other settings, you need to change back to touchpad mode and fiddle around.

While the touchpad works fairly well as a remote, it works rather less well as a touchpad. For some reason, the responsiveness is all over the place, with sensitivity levels dying as you slide your finger towards the edges.

In fact, swiping the right edge did nothing at all. We’d actually recommend using a USB mouse with this laptop, to avoid frustration.

Thankfully the keyboard is typically great for an Acer laptop. As usual, an isolation-style design has been used, with each key poking up through an individual hole cut in the Ethos 8951G’s chassis.

It’s a well laid out board and a great size for touch typing, despite the tiny left Shift key.

The arrow keys are sadly squashed beneath the right Shift key, which seems unnecessary considering the room Acer had to play with. Still, you do get a separate numeric pad, which is useful if you’re a spreadsheet junkie.

Acer aspire ethos 8951g

Since the Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G is a multimedia machine at heart, we were keen to test out the huge 18.4-inch screen by kicking back with a sack of Blu-rays and a vat of popcorn.

That’s right, we said Blu-rays, not crummy old DVDs. Acer has included Sony’s HD technology so you can enjoy films the way they’re meant to be seen, with ultra-crisp visuals.

Of course, you can still play DVDs on the drive, so you don’t need to part with your collection just yet.

The Ethos 8951G’s display features a sharp 1920 x 1080 WUXGA resolution, making it perfect for taking in Full HD 1080p movies and shows.

HD films really do look amazing on this machine. Contrast levels are excellent, blacks actually look black, as opposed to grey, and colours are rich and vibrant.

Viewing angles aren’t too bad either, so you can happily enjoy a movie with your family, spread out on the sofa. You don’t even have to get up thanks to the detachable touchpad/remote control.

A good chunk of space above the keyboard is dedicated to the built-in speakers. Although laptop speakers are usually as powerful as a gnat’s fart, we were expecting great things from the Ethos 8951G. Those expectations were sadly dashed on the rocky plateau of disappointment.

The sound quality is fine, but there’s a serious lack of power. Even on top volume, we were straining to hear over ambient office noise.

This is especially disappointing considering how powerful the Dell XPS 15z’s speakers were. If you want to truly enjoy a movie or some bass-heavy music, you’ll definitely want to attach some USB speakers.

Those with enormous media collections are well catered for by the 1.5TB hard drive, which provides enough space for hundreds of thousands of songs and photos, and hundreds of HD movies.

If you need even more space or simply wish to back up your collection, you can attach an external drive using the eSATA port, or slip a memory card into the multi-card reader.

You also get four USB ports, one of which is USB 3.0, in addition to VGA and HDMI connections for hooking up external monitors or televisions. Acer has even included mini-Firewire, which we rarely see on laptops these days.

Rounding off the features is the almost-obligatory fingerprint scanner, which provides a satisfactory alternative to remembering ridiculously complex passwords.

Acer aspire ethos 8951g

When we saw the specs list for the Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G, we certainly weren’t disappointed. Acer has stuffed in one of Intel’s latest Sandy Bridge processors, the Core i7 2630QM, which runs at 2GHz.

Backed up by a mammoth 8GB of RAM, it was obvious that the Ethos would destroy our benchmarking tests.

And destroy it did. We didn’t think the Dell XPS 15z‘s CineBench score of 11,474 would be beaten any time soon, but the Ethos 8951G topped it with a score of 12,633.

The Intel CPU’s eight cores are perfect for multi-tasking, while software loads up almost instantly. No matter what we were doing, this laptop provided a smooth, fast experience.

Since the Ethos 8951G was built for enjoying media, Acer has included a dedicated nVidia GeForce GT 555M graphics card.

Most modern games that we tried ran fine, although we had to turn down detail levels on more demanding titles. HD films ran smoothly as expected, as well as video editing software.

The dedicated graphics make full use of nVidia’s Optimus technology, powering down when you’re doing basic tasks such as bashing out an email.

In these cases the basic integrated graphics on the motherboard take over, to save power. As a result, the Ethos 8951G’s battery lasts for a full three hours when you aren’t playing games, and even longer if you turn down brightness levels and performance settings.

This was much longer than we expected considering the high specs and huge screen. Okay, so the battery life isn’t really a significant factor considering the size of this machine, but at least you won’t have to drag the charger as well as the laptop when you shift to another room.

Benchmarks

CineBench: 12633

3DMark 06: 9989

Battery Eater: 185 mins

Acer aspire ethos 8951g

Acer’s Ethos range are built for entertainment, and aimed squarely at those who want a smart and powerful portable for enjoying their games and media collection. We’re big fans of previous Ethos models, so gleefully put the Aspire Ethos 8951G through its paces.

We liked

Featuring one of Intel’s most powerful Intel Core i7 mobile processors and a mighty 8GB of memory, the Ethos 8951G is a better performer that ten Ron Jeremys. You’re fully future-proofed and can multi-task to your heart’s content.

You’ll have no trouble running the latest games (although some detail fiddling is required on the most demanding titles), which look fantastic on the bright and vibrant 18.4-inch screen. The Full HD 1080p resolution means both games and Blu-ray films are presented at their best.

And now you can enjoy movies from the comfort of your sofa, thanks to the detachable touchpad which doubles as a remote. It’s a cool gimmick, although not entirely perfect.

Finally, the generous 1.5TB hard drive means you won’t have to constantly remove old films and games to add new ones.

We disliked

As with previous Ethos models, this bad boy is best left at home. The 4.2kg weight will break your back if you attempt to lug it around on a regular basis, and it isn’t the easiest to slip into a bag or rucksack. We were impressed by the three-hour battery life though.

The Ethos 8951G has few flaws, but we were disappointed by the rubbish touchpad. It works fairly well as a remote control, but not so well as a device for moving the mouse cursor around. We’d have also preferred more powerful built-in speakers.

Verdict

As a home entertainment machine, the Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G does almost everything right. Attach a mouse and some decent speakers and you’re set.

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Acer Aspire AS5745, AS7745 Entertainment Laptops Announced

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The new Acer Aspire AS5745 and AS7745 entertainment notebooks are now available in the US, the company has announced.

The Aspire AS5745 has a 15.6-inch 1366×768 display, whereas the AS7745 Series touts a 17.3-inch 1600×900 screen, both with LED backlight. The laptops come with the Intel Core i3, i5, and i7 processors, discrete graphics options, Dolby Home Theater audio, and a multi-touch display in select AS5745 models.

Acer highlights the Acer Aspire AS5745G-6538 with the Intel Core i7 720QM quad-core CPU and NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M dedicated graphics, the multi-touch Acer Aspire AS5745PG-3882 with the Core i5 and GT 330M, and the Aspire AS7745G-6214 with the i7 720QM, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650 graphics, dual hard drives for up to 1TB storage, four SODIMM slots for up to 16GB RAM, and a Blu-ray drive.

The standard AS5745 and AS7745 start at $699, while the AS5745G, AS5745PG, and AS7745G start at $1,049, $899.99, and $1,399, respectively.

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Acer Aspire TimelineX Thin & Light Laptops Hit US

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300X300

Acer has announced the US availability of the Aspire TimelineX thin-and-light laptop series, including the 11.6-inch Aspire 1830T, 13.3″ 3820T, 14″ 4820T and the 15.6″ 5820T.

Besides LED-backlit displays, TimelineX notebooks include the Intel Core i3 or Core i5 full-voltage processors, except the 1830T with a Core i3 ultra-low voltage chip. The laptops have Intel’s integrated GPU or swithcable graphics with an ATI Radeon dedicated video card, 3GB or 4GB of memory, up to 500GB hard drive space, optical drives in 14″ and 15.6″ models, and Windows 7 Home Premium OS.

The TimelineX systems are less than one inch thin and are housed in black brushed aluminium cases. The laptops’ weight ranges from 3 to 5.5 pounds.

According to Acer, the new notebooks are desinged to deliver “eight hours of battery life”.

Prices of the Acer Aspire 1830T and 3820T start at $599.99 and $729.99, respectively, whereas the 4820T and 5820T both start at $749.99.

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Acer Touch-screen Notebook

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Aspire AS5738PG

Acer has announced the Aspire AS5738PG notebook with a multi-touch 15.6-inch display, Intel’s CPU, and Windows 7 OS.

According to Acer, customers can touch anywhere on the AS5738PG’s screen using one or two fingertips to play movies, zoom in and out on websites, edit photos and video, handwrite notes, resize windows, launch entertainment applications and more.

The first touch-screen Aspire model available will be the AS5738PG-6306, featuring the Core 2 Duo T6600 2.2GHz processor, the ATI Radeon HD 4570 512MB dedicated graphics, 4GB of DDR2 memory, a 320GB SATA hard drive, and a DVD burner. The display has a resoltion of 1366×768 pixels and uses LED backlight.

The laptop also sports stereo speakers, a built-in web camera, 802.11n WiFi, an HDMI output, and four USB ports.

Acer’s notebook weighs 6.16 pounds with its 6-cell battery.

The AS5738PG-6306 was available starting October 22. It was priced at around $800.

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Acer Introduces 18.4″ Laptop

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Acer has introduced the Acer Aspire AS8940G-6865 desktop replacement laptop, featuring an 18.4-inch display, an Intel Core i7 quad-core processor and Windows 7 Home Premium OS.

Along with the i7-720QM 1.6GHz quad-core CPU and the full HD 1920×1080 LED-backlight screen, the entertainment oriented AS8940G-6865 incorporates the NVIDIA GeForce GTS 250M dedicated GPU, a Blu-ray combo drive, a 500GB HDD and 4GB of DDR3 memory.

The notebook also sports five built-in speakers and Dolby Home Theater sound technology, a web camera, an HDMI output, a touch-capacitive media control interface, 802.11n Wi-Fi, five USB ports, and an eSATA port.

The Acer Aspire AS8940G-6865 will be available this holiday season at leading retailers in the U.S. for around $1,350.

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New Laptop: Acer Aspire 3935

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Acer Aspire 3935

Acer Aspire 3935

The recently announced Acer Aspire 3935 13.3-inch laptop can be purchased now in  Newegg, B&H, BuyDig, and Amazon , they offer the Acer Aspire AS3935-6504 model with the Intel Core 2 Duo P7350 processor at 2GHz, the GMA 4500MHD integrated graphics, 3GB of DDR3 memory, a 250GB hard drive, and a DVD burner.

The notebook’s 13.3″ “edge-to-edge” LED Backlit display has a 1366 x 768 resolution and a 16:9 aspect ratio.

The Aspire AS3935 also includes a built-in web camera, stereo speakers with Dolby Home Theater technology, a multi-gesture touchpad, a fingerprint reader, three USB ports, a 5-in-1 media card reader, a VGA output, and an audio jack with S/PDIF support, as well as 802.11a/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth, a 56k modem, and an Gigabit LAN port.

Acer’s laptop weighs 4.18 pounds with a 4-cell battery that provides “up to 4 hours” of battery life.

It runs Windows Vista Home Premium OS.

The Acer Aspire AS3935-6504 is priced at $900 at Newegg, B&H, and BuyDig, while Amazon sells it for $972.

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Blog News: Acer Aspire One 571

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acer-aspire-one-571-netbookAcer Aspire One 571

Blog Macles has revealed the Acer Aspire One 571 10.1-inch netbook that features a dedicated HD video chip and a mini Blu-Ray optical disc drive.

The Quartics Q1721 Multimedia Coprocessor in the Aspire One 571 accelerates decoding and encoding of high definition video codecs, and also adds hardware scaling and filtering, according to Macles.

Regarding the optical drive, the 571 features a small Blu-Ray reader for Vmedia’s 1GB discs with a diameter of 32mm, whereas a standard Blu-ray disc measures 120mm.

The new netbook includes the Intel Atom N280 1.66GHz processor and a 10.1″ screen with a resolution of 1280×720 pixels and a 16:9 aspect ratio.

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