Two Minute Video: MacBook Air Style, PC Price with the Acer ‘S3’ Ultrabook

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MacBook Air style with a more PC-like pricetag: That’s the promise of Acer’s new S3 ultrabook. At $900, it beats Apple’s lowest-priced 13-inch MacBook Air by a full $400 while measuring up almost identically in weight and thickness. So what’s the catch? No catch! Okay, there’s a catch.

But first, the specs!

  • Dual-core Intel Core i5 processor running at 1.6GHz
  • 4GB of memory
  • 320GB hard drive for file storage, plus a second 20GB solid state drive that houses the operating system (Windows 7 Home Premium) and maintains the computer’s state for resuming from standby in less than two seconds
  • Card reader, two USB ports, HDMI output
  • Just over half an inch thick, just under three pounds, measures about 12.5 inches wide and about 8.5 inches long.

So what do you get for $900? It’s fast. It’s very portable. The keyboard’s pretty good. The resume-from-standby time is amazing, and it looks great.

(MORE: Eight New Tablets and Ultrabooks You Should Know About)

What’s missing? Battery life leaves a bit to be desired: You’ll get around four hours if you’re really pushing it, maybe four and a half if you’re moseying. Gaming? Meh. Serious gaming? No! The screen doesn’t get all that bright, either. And if you’re comparing this to a MacBook Air, you also lose the backlit keyboard and the Acer’s screen resolution is 1366×768 versus 1440×900 with the MacBook Air.

All things considered, the Acer S3 makes a good choice for a 13-inch notebook thanks in large part to its form factor and its nimble performance. The biggest strike against it is its somewhat lackluster battery life. Other than that, you’re getting a lot for well shy of a grand.

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