At Computex 2013, Acer decided to do something extra the day before opening and announced a few new Ultrabooks and one interesting Windows 8.1 tablet. Acer has been getting some good publicity after they bought in Packard Bell to make the low-range laptops and let the company scale up their quality so they could compete with the bigger brand names and it shows – the Aspire S3 and S7 are great Ultrabook choices. Hit the jump for more info.
The most interesting device was the Iconia W3. Its a 8-inch Windows 8.1 tablet that takes the form factor back into something more portable – lately most Windows tablets have been larger than 10 inches and weren’t really that light or portable. The W3 weighs just 500g, ships with a 1280 x 800 screen (Windows 8.1 supports snapping Modern UI apps at this resolution) and runs on Intel’s Atom Z2670, which is composed of a dual-core 1.5GHz processor, Intel HD graphics (the bog-standard one) and running just 2GB of RAM. There’s a single USB 2.0 port, front and rear-facing cameras at 2MP each and a promised 8-hour battery life.
The W3 also comes with a keyboard dock that gives it some extra battery power and a full-sized keyboard. There will be a revision of the W3 in future that may go two ways – to AMD and their Temash SOC, or to Intel’s Silvermont Atom family. Either way, Acer promises a starting price of just $379, which is in line with what Apple asks for the iPad Mini. The W3 will suffer from the Windows 8 curse, however – it’ll ship with a 32GB SSD, but chances are you’ll only be able to use 16GB of that for apps and your personal data. Don’t count on being able to take one apart, either.
The Aspire S7 was next to receive an update and its now powered by Intel’s Haswell processor family. It now uses aluminium all around the body and gets a stunning 2560 x 1440 IPS LED-backlit display with a 10-point capacitive touch screen layer. It includes a Haswell-based low-voltage Core i7 processor, although Acer didn’t expand on which one it was. Weighing in at just under 1.3kg, it should be an interesting stab at the obvious competitor – Apple’s Macbook Pro 13 with the Retina Display. The S7 will likely be priced high enough to include the GT3e graphics option from Intel’s Haswell family – expect local retail pricing to reach around R20,000
The budget Aspire S3 gets put at the back, but also receives some love. It now weighs just 1.66kg thanks to a new aluminium chassis and will ship with an assortment of Intel Core i3 and i5 processors based on Haswell. There’s also an option with a discrete GPU, Nvidia’s Geforce GT735M. The display is the biggest update, moving from the sub-standard 1366 x 768 resolution up to the full 1920 x 1080 resolution that the ASUS Zenbook has been enjoying for such a long time. Bonus points for Acer: its an IPS LED-backlit panel too.
The main differences between the S# and S7 aside, what also sets them apart is the storage options. The S3 will rely on mechanical hard drives and a smaller cache drive, while the S7 ships with solid state storage only. The Aspire S3 can fetch up to R10,000 and there are sure to be cheaper options based on lower-end Core i3 processors and Intel HD4600 graphics.