Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Acer Aspire S3-951-6646 Notebook Review

The first book Ultra. Designed to address directly the MacBook Air for hundreds of dollars less, Acer Aspire S3 has a lot to live up to. Find out here if this Book early Ultra has what it takes to make the ultra-slim category, the crown away from Apple.

After months of waiting, the first Ultrabooks are finally here in the United States and with them come great expectations in terms of size, quality construction and energy. With so much riding on first impressions, Intel made the most of everything to help manufacturers during the design process, including an investment of $ 300 million over the next few years.

Acer, however, was able to beat other manufacturers in the market with the Aspire Ultrabook S3. As the eldest son in the world Ultrabook inevitably will be compared in almost all respects to the more mature MacBook Air from Apple.

Although it has been available for over 2 years and has had time to grow, Acer Aspire S3 can be expected to undermine Apple's lowest priced starting at $ 899, without hindering performance. After all, the aggressiveness of the award was one of the main strategies for Acer in sales.

In this review, we carefully manufacture and performance of Aspire S3-951, but at the same time to answer some obvious questions. For example, Acer has cut no corners in order to meet a low price tag? How performance against other ultra-thin notebooks? If early adopters jump on the first ultra-Book, or wait? Our analysis below covers all aspects of Aspire S3, and maybe help them to continue the fence about buying ultra-Book.

Specifications Acer Aspire S3-951-6646 :
  • Processor : Intel Core i5 2467M 1.6 GHz
  • Mainboard : Intel HM67
  • Memory : 4096 MB
  • Graphics adapter : Intel HD Graphics 3000, Core: 700-750MHz, Turbo Boost 1150 MHz,
  • Display : 13.3 inch 16:9, 1366x768 pixel, AUO102C, glossy: yes
  • Harddisk : Hitachi HTS543232A7A384, 320GB 5400rpm
  • Soundcard : Realtek High Definition Audio
  • Connections : 2 USB 2.0, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: 3.5mm speaker/headset combo, Card Reader: 2-in-1 SD & Multimedia
  • Networking : 802.11a/b/g/n (abgn), 4.0+ HSR Bluetooth
  • Optical drive : -
  • Size : height x width x depth (in mm): 17.78 x 322.5 x 218.5
  • Weight : 1.4 kg Power Supply: 0.2 kg
  • Battery : 37.74 Wh Lithium-Polymer, 3-cell
  • Price : 800 Euro
  • Operating System : Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit
  • Additional features : Webcam: 1.3MP HD Webcam, 12 Months Warranty
Ultra book is considered one of the requirements is thicker than about 21 mm (0.826 inch), then the S3 certainly aspire to produce in this way. Only 13.1 mm (0.51 inches) and 17.5 mm (0.69 inches) and the thinnest thickness of ultrathin sections for the Acer should have no problems with the form of cases or backpacks. It 'also quite often the size of the total weight of 2.98 pounds (1.35kg), which is partly due to its inclusion on the hard disk.

General matte gray building can be a bit 'boring for some users, but the smooth aluminum cover is satisfactory for the first impression. Unfortunately, the coverage could have been more rigid, since the top can easily be depressed with a finger, especially along the central axis and toward the front of the notebook. Unfortunately, the fund can not flex when pressure is applied, but not to a greater extent that users should not be too worried.

After opening the lid, however, we were disappointed to note that the top aluminum was just a front. Almost all of the lower frame is made of gray plastic, such as keys, and it is obvious that this was a cost-saving move by Acer. Regardless, the bottom is still above average quality, and visually complement the door in spite of the difference between the materials used.

Finally, the hinges are at best modest. While not horrible, do not feel as robust as some netbooks like the Lenovo X121e budget. We imagine that the situation would be worse if the laptop is used on a drive or train. Furthermore, the force needed to lift the laptop while the lid is opened the lid is pushed easily, so that users will have to be more careful with the screen game.

For ultra-thin notebook, the Aspire S3 contains most of the possibilities of physical connection waiting for his class, but unfortunately lacks a USB 3.0 port, always-on USB 2.0 port and Ethernet port. The biggest problem here is, however, that most ports are located at the rear, where the notebook is thicker.

As you can imagine, it would be a hassle constantly look behind the laptop to simply connect a USB device or an external monitor, so users can not accept the idea of ​​having a USB port is located behind the counter. Fortunately, the multi-card reader and a combo audio jack on the website are readily available. Kensington lock is actually located under the edge in the audio jack.

Standard wireless connectivity options are present, such as WLAN and Bluetooth 4.0. WLAN in this review provides a model for the Atheros AR5BWB225. There is no integrated WWAN or GPS, but most competitors do not offer these features ultra-thin notebooks, though.

Acer, however, that offer Clear.fi software solution business owner for several wireless home media compatible devices (TVs, tablets, smartphones, media players, the other PC, etc.). The units can then manage , access, store, share, or data flow from one another, be it video, photos, YouTube or Facebook.

A separate add-on Acer Ultra book is currently not available, but a third-party accessory works as expected with a USB 2.0 port. Users who need an optical drive, for example, should consider purchasing an external solution, since the Aspire S3 does not include built-in DVD or Blu-ray. In addition, the notebook includes your own specialized dock connector, so do not expect any external USB 3.0, eSATA, or other video-out ports in the future.

The standard one-year warranty Acer Aspire is the S3, although the additional options, depending on the dealer. Two or three years of extended coverage is available in stores like Best Buy and Wal-Mart for about $ 100 to $ 200 more.

Input Devices
The non-backlit chiclet style flat keyboard is a soft-touch texture and is generally a good size (26.7cm x 10.2cm) with well-spaced keys, but some features that prevent you from being a comfortable keyboard. They, for example, feel rather stiff and could have benefited from more depth when pressed. It may take some getting used to the keys of a very calm and shallow, especially for users accustomed to desktop keyboards.

Use the arrow keys could be improved, in particular, because of their small size makes them very difficult for larger fingers to use and is very soft. Arrow is almost one quarter of the size of the QWERTY keys and a smaller number of intervals to start. The keyboard, while the large size of the audience simply does not provide enough tactile feedback is expected to take in this price range.

Most of the touch pad flat in Aspire S3 does not disappoint. Its relatively large size (8.7cm x 6.5cm) is almost as large as the 13.3-inch touchscreen MacBook Air 2011 (10.41cm x 7.62 cm) and is textured plastic composition as the base of the specification. The extra space also facilitates the use of Multi-Touch gestures like two-finger scrolling and pinch zoom.

In addition, as the MacBook, users will need to click by tapping the touchpad itself, without dedicated buttons left or right to talk about it. Audio commentary click is a bit muted, especially compared to some ThinkPad models, but it is certainly the job done in terms of responsiveness and flexibility. Of course, the laptop to record the rare occasions when clicking the left and right and vice versa, but be prepared when orders are integrated multi-click on the touchpad itself.

The Aspire S3 uses a 13.3-inch glossy display with a native resolution of 1366x768 pixels. While this is not the highest resolution of 1440x900 MacBook Air is the same resolution as the 13.3-inch Samsung Series 9. Heavy multitasking may feel the need for a secondary monitor, but the screen is a bit bright at first sight with the color and sharpness.

With Mayo Gossen-Monitor, a respectable maximum brightness of 207 candelas per square meter were recorded in the center of the screen. It would have been nice if the monitor is able to maintain more than 200 nits in all areas, but the brightness does not drop below the value of the edge.

Yet, the brightness is acceptably uniform, about 88 percent, and remained more or less the same even when the handset is disconnected. MacBook Air and Samsung Series 9, however, Acer trounces the screen brightness level to maximum.

The color space reproducible by Aspire S3 is an average of only about 64 percent of the sRGB range. In addition, the display on the Samsung 9 Series 13.3-inch Acer cleverly overcome here. In comparison with the 13.3-inch MacBook Air, but reproducible color space is approximately equal. Remember that the colorimeter is used to get the ICC profile for MacBook was different from that used in this review, so there may be slight variations in the direct comparison between the two screens.

The anti-glare screen prevents unfortunate S3 aspire to be a good candidate for prolonged outdoor use. I can not wait to turn the brightness up to maximum, and be ready to find the shade, or it can be difficult to see on the screen of text.

The integrated 1.3 megapixel webcam allows you to record in 720p, but expect large amounts of layers and frame rates reduced. "Automatic lighting" feature allows a little in the poorly lit rooms, but the camera works best at lower resolutions and in a bright environment.

View angle of stability is a typical laptop. Vertical viewing angle a bit below normal almost immediately result in distorted colors, while the side view of the distortions are not as severe. You can share the screen with a small number of viewers, but the dazzling potential of ultra-bright screen may be a problem.

The S3 Aspire under review includes a Core i5-2467M Sandy Bridge CPU is both to examine the only option for customers. However, the dual-core processor is fast enough for the category of ultra-thin laptop, despite its low TDP of 17 watts. Turbo Boost supports up to 2.3 GHz single-core 2.0 GHz or both cores. Note that the same processor is also in the air in 2011 of 11.6-inch MacBook. See here for more information on the processor.

Like the other Sandy Bridge processors, the Core i5-2467M is equipped with an Intel integrated graphics HD 3000 GPU. In the absence of dedicated GPU inside the Aspire S3 is based on Intel chips for all graphical outputs. This particular graphics chip, the Acer supports Turbo Boost Technology up to 1150MHz, but is inactive at a speed of 350MHz, according to hwinfo.

It 'also interesting to note that only a maximum of support for DirectX 10.1, but players should really look elsewhere more graphically capable laptops, however. That said, more detailed information on the Intel HD 3000 can be found in the pages devoted to the exhibition.

For the record, the current model of Aspire S3 includes 4GB of DDR3 RAM. Like other ultra-portable, the RAM is soldered directly on the motherboard to reduce weight and size, so users will be blocked with 4 GB of RAM from start to finish.

In CPU-oriented benchmarks, the Core i5 2467M works well against the competition, taking into account the price of the Aspire range of S3, but in the end damage the hard drive. For example, PCMark 7, Acer Ultra book marked 1942 compared to 3289 points and 2355 points in 2011 11.6-inch MacBook Air (w / the same CPU), and 13.3-inch Samsung Series 9 (w / 1.4GHz Core 2537M i5), respectively.

PCMark Vantage results show a deviation of up to a better 4909 points 9414 and 8657 against the Acer, Apple and Samsung, respectively. In fact, all signs point to the HDD as the primary determinant of performance differences, since the Aspire S3 was almost the same level as the MacBook Air, all Cinebench and could slightly Samsung Series 9 more tests done.

As for the GPU-oriented benchmarks performed here with other Acer Intel HD 3000 equipped laptop. GPU with a score of 1168 in 3DMark Vantage Aspire S3 plays as expected in the graphics department. But it is a great improvement over the previous generation of Intel GMA HD graphics and is more than capable of playing HD video, Flash content and extra-light games.

Overall, the performance of the GPU, unfortunately, seems to be less than when running on battery power. Cinebench results show that although the CPU performance is independent of the supply current, the integrated GPU is actually achieved lower numbers.

For example, the Aspire 4075 points placed in the Cinebench R10 OpenGL test S3 64bit, but only 3636 points, while the batteries. The same trend was seen running Cinebench R11 64bit with batteries 7.53fps 8.01fps against AC. The same high performance profile settings used for these tests. Overview of how this can affect the details of the game is the power section.

Instead of a clean 64 GB or 128 GB of SSD storage, Acer includes both 20GB and 320GB SSD SATA II HDD (Hitachi HTS543232A7A) In order to reduce costs and retain customers more easily transportable. This is a major difference between the Acer ultra-Book and 2011, the MacBook Air, the Samsung Series 9 or Asus UX21/UX31, because those other ultra-thin notebooks rely solely on the SSD, HDD with no options.

However, the 20 GB SSD is responsible for the preservation of the current formation. This means awakening and return to hibernation times are almost instantaneous, called Acer Instant green. All components of the Windows operating system is still in the mechanics of the unit, however, so cold start time do not see any advantage.

Remember that the SSD can not access the normal way, as it presents itself as a drive letter in Windows. Yes, it's a bit shaky, the user is not allowed to directly and easily use the SSD as if it were a normal partition of the get-go. It can be seen on the screen of Windows management computer labeled "hibernation partition".

Although the mechanical unit can be replaced by the user, Acer does not seem to recommend it because of the steps. Twelve screws on the bottom of the base must be removed before the hard drive can be carefully separated. The polymer battery is exposed here, but was included to prevent end users to tinker with it.

With HDTune, the Hitachi 5400 shows an average transfer rate of about 57.7MB/sec. It's very disappointing, as even the budget 11.6-inch netbooks like the Acer Travelmate Lenovo X121e 8172T has a higher average transfer rate of 86.8MB/sec and 67.8MB/sec, respectively. And, of course, the unit is no match for the MacBook Air SSD and Samsung Series 9 with an average of up to 150MB/sec each.

Interestingly, HDTune recognizes the 20 GB SSD, but CrystalDiskMark only see the hard drive. Despite the SSD average transfer rate of 173.7MB/sec registered, it will ultimately help in any way the user wants, as the programs are installed on the hard disk 5400.

Verdict of the game
We tested the final match of the FIFA with the S3 hope that the game has been known to work well with laptops without dedicated GPU. The following results were recorded using FRAPS with the AC adapter. When the battery, the frame rate dropped slightly to about 3 and 6 frames in the middle graph settings high and low, respectively.

We kept a watchful eye on the speed with GPU hwinfo. If running on batteries, stabilizes the graphics chip to 700MHz to about 850MHz and almost never higher. Connect the AC adapter, however, and the GPU to stabilize at around 950MHz to 1000MHz with occasional maximum Turbo Boost 1150MHz; Any dips below 900MHz was rare.

The voltage across the processor will apparently scale depends on the source. In other words, the mundane daily tasks to perform well on the battery, but the running game or other graphics-intensive workloads are best with an electrical outlet nearby.

Emissions of noise
Acer ultra-Book will remain almost completely silent when idle, or even surf the net or watching video. A little 'buzzing is inaudible high-definition video, but nothing distracting.

When stressed, and fan speed, a laptop can get a bit 'stronger in quiet areas, but still at a reasonable level. We are able to use in the classroom or library environments.

The ULV processor inside the Aspire S3 should provide a relatively cool experience, regardless of workload. At rest, the notebook is very well overall, although it is a much hotter on the left side.

Stress load, the temperature increase laptop around 4 to 5 degrees C average in the top and bottom, respectively. Again, the hottest are the nearest base of the fan, which can be 10 degrees C warmer than the spots furthest from the fan.

It is certainly noticeable, and can be a bit too hot, but if you want to run intensive applications for a long period of revolutions, then the temperature should not be a big problem. The fan system operates via the keyboard as well, so the user can feel a little air turbulence near the top left of the keys when the fan is at maximum speed.

Hwinfo without limitation observed when running Furmark and Prime95 simultaneously. The Turbo Boost was in effect during the first minute or two, but both cores 1.595GHz finally settled in and nothing less or more. Similarly, the integrated Intel HD 3000 to 1150MHz the maximum Turbo Boost, but quickly adapted to 700MHz to 750MHz. There were no limitations on the side of the GPU. In fact, the 3DMark 06 CPU after the stress was very close to the original score of 2409 points.

What temperatures, the core remained stable at about 75 degrees C, each under the maximum load. Ambient temperature during this stress test was 20 degrees C.

Acer includes "professional tuning Dolby ® Home Theater ® v4" sound with every Aspire S3. The two speakers are at the bottom of the laptop - one on the left and right - which is not exactly user-oriented.

However, we found the sound quality to be good, especially from a 13.3-inch laptop. The volume can be high enough to fill a small conference room, but the external solutions of 3.5 mm are still recommended for prolonged use or when more bass and fidelity are required.

Battery Life

Aspire S3 contains an embedded 3-cell lithium-polymer 10.8 power. With more power-draining mechanical drives, and only half the number of cells in 13.3-inch Samsung Series 9, we half expected Acer underperform compared to other ultra provide in terms of life the battery.

BatteryEater tests confirm the original predictions. With BatterEater Classic Book Acer Ultra clocked in 96 minutes before the final closing. This is the minimum battery test the notebook was the high performance profile for maximum brightness, and wireless LAN. Comparison between the 13.3-inch Samsung Series 9 and 13.3-inch MacBook Air in 2011 lasted 181 and 120 minutes at full load, respectively, prior to closing.

At the other end of the spectrum was recorded with the battery life test maximum BatteryEater Reader a relatively low 399 minutes. The portable set the parameters of power saving with a minimum brightness and WLAN enabled and was not allowed to sleep or hibernate. In comparison, Samsung Series 9 and MacBook Air lasted 660 minutes and 677 respectively, in much the same test conditions.

In a test of more reality-oriented, we had the laptop to adjust the equilibrium profile with 66 percent of the light and went to the net with flash and video from time to time. We were able to hit 213 minutes before the alert window of 5 percent broken battery.

Although not a battery life very poor, is significantly shorter than other laptops in its class size. Of course, this varies depending on how the demand for computing expected from Acer. Constant access to the hard disk is likely to be even less greater autonomy, unlike other ultra-portable SSD that less energy is used instead. A full charge of a discharged battery will take about 140 minutes when the laptop is off.

Since the cheapest Ultra and one of the first book available, it can not be too surprising to hear that some of the important characteristics are strictly cut in order to satisfy the $ 899 price tag. On the contrary, the entire aluminum alloy chassis, we are given a body that is half clear plastic, aluminum and a half, and instead devoted to the SSD, we are given with 320GB HDD 20GB SSD treated mainly with the cache. In addition, the relatively fragile plastic hinges and the keyboard software, in particular, to do otherwise satisfactory build quality of Acer seems more tenuous than it actually is.

Performance-wise, you'd be hard pressed to find a 13.3-inch ultra-thin laptop, Aspire S3 records in the form of power given the price. For example, the 13.3-inch MacBook Air has options to speed processors Sandy Bridge, but it will cost at least $ 300 or more of Acer. Even the 13.3-inch Samsung Series 9 costing hundreds more, and only include a 2537 m on a comparable basis, but less clocked i5.

But when you consider a better quality of construction, higher-capacity SSDs, and the longest battery life of the competition, so the price differences between the S3 Aspire examined against the ultra-thin laptops become more understandable.

Currently, Acer intends to make available to S3 options Ultrabooks Aspire Core i7 and SSD in the near future. Unfortunately at that time, additional Ultrabooks other manufacturers can be found below the price range of $ 1000. The 13.3-inch Asus UX31-RSL8 Ultrabook, for example, has an aluminum alloy chassis solid, 128GB SATA III SSD, the same core i5-2467M CPU, USB 3.0 and Ethernet for only $ 150 more than the Aspire and S3 already available in the U.S.

Those who want absolutely the Ultrabook first find the Acer Aspire S3 provides CPU performance with a good quality of construction adequate when the price and size are a concern later. For everyone else, we suggest waiting a month or two to see what options Ultrabook other manufacturers have to offer before jumping in the car.

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