Acer Aspire S3 Ultrabook Costs $899, Undercuts 13-inch MacBook Air by $400

The first of Intel's new class of super-thin, fast-boot notebooks—called Ultrabooks—arrives in the U.S. this week. The premier machine is the 13.3-inch Acer Aspire S3, and it will cost $899. That's $400 less than the 13-inch MacBook Air ($1,299).

We spent time with the Aspire S3 at the IFA 2011 tech showcase in Berlin and noted the classiness of its slim, aluminum-magnesium lid and island-style keyboard (though we'd like to see a keyboard backlight). Weighing in at 2.98 pounds, the Ultrabook's frame not only came close to the premium quality of the Air, it's the same weight as Apple's ultraportable too. The Acer Aspire S3 competes with the MacBook Air in responsiveness as well. Find out how (and check out more images) below.

Apple's MacBook Air is well known for its ability to wake from sleep almost instantly and boot Mac OS in about 17 seconds. The Aspire S3 will use a hybrid drive system—a 20GB solid state drive paired with a 320GB hard disk drive—to resume from sleep mode in just 2 seconds. With an estimated 50 hours of standby time, we suspect those fast wake speeds will come in handy, especially with technology called Instant Connect that will help the S3 reconnect to the Internet from sleep mode in just 2.5 seconds. 

The Aspire S3 will include a 13.3-inch display with 1366x768 pixel resolution, 4GB of RAM, Intel HD 3000 integrated graphics, a 1.3-megapixel webcam, Bluetooth 4.0, and an Intel Core i5 processor. Acer says configurations that include Intel Core i3 and i7 processors as well as larger capacity solid state drives will be available at a later date. The S3 includes USB 2.0 instead of USB 3.0 ports, but at least you get HDMI output.

Stay tuned for a full review of the Acer Aspire S3 and keep your eyes peeled for more details on other Ultrabooks.

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