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Acer's Slim S 13 Challenges XPS 13, MacBook Air at $699

With back-to-school season almost upon us, the race is on to see which laptop maker can make the most attractive ultraportable for the most attractive price. Acer is hoping to steal some thunder from Dell's top-rated XPS 13 and MacBook Air with its S 13, which weighs a light 3.13 pounds and will start at an aggressive $699 when it goes on sale in May.

I had a chance to go hands-on with the S 13 at Acer's New York launch event, and I like the overall design and how much you're getting for the money, though I could do without the thick bezel around the screen.

The S 13 is just 0.57 inches thin and uses diamond cut edging around the sides and touchpad to give it an elegant look. The design uses aluminum on the deck and bottom but a unique nano imprint lithography on the lid to provide texture and a firm grip. 

Of the two models--touch and non-touch--I prefer the touchscreen model because it has a cooler white color. The obsidian black, non-touch version seems a bit boring by comparison. 

The Aspire S 13 will be powered by 6th-generation Intel processor, with your choice of Core i3, Core i5 or Core i7 CPUs. It comes with a full HD IPS display (touch is optional). You can also expect up to 8GB of RAM and up to a 512GB SSD.

Acer promises up to 13 hours of battery life, which would be second only to the 13-inch MacBook Air. But we'll see how well this system performs in our testing.

During my hands-on time with the S13, I found the keyboard to offer decent travel, but not great. But I'm glad Acer didn't skimp on ports. You get not only two USB 3.0 but also HDMI and a USB-C port and SD card slot.

Overall, the Acer Aspire S 13 looks like a good value, but stay tuned for our full review.

Acer Laptop Guide