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Posted 5 Apr 2012

ACER Ultrabook Review

, 5 Apr 2012
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ACER Ultrabook Review

Not too long ago we heard about Ultrabook machines and X86 Windows 7 systems operating on solar cells indoors and now we have Ultrabooks popping up everywhere. Between the possible options I decided that I am going to keep my DELL Latitude laptop as a workstation for now but still get a new Ultrabook for a different reason.

I initially thought that my DELL Latitude would be good for everything. It is lighter that my previous laptop and it is very powerful. In time I found myself using an iPad for many of the simpler tasks, for example attending a conference was becoming an issue with my Latitude because it was heavy and I had to be careful with it because the cover is plastic. Eventually I started using the iPad because it has metal cover, it turns on very fast, and it is not as heavy. This made my life easier until I found myself having to edit Word documents or -god forbid- open Visual Studio. This is way beyond the purpose of an iPad. Even trying to Remote-Desktop to my server proved to be worse than starting my Latitude laptop.

As I was watching an Ultrabooks demo when attending Intel's IDF event, the first thing that came to mind was that I would finally be able to get something that is light enough to carry, simple enough to open - use - and close, and would still have a decent keyboard and run all my existing applications.

For this reason I got the ACER Aspire S3. This looks like one of the lightweight slimmer models of Ultrabooks. As a workstation I would probably take one that has backlit keyboard and more USB ports for example. You can see the list of Ultrabooks by different manufacturers here: Ultrabook List. The ACER Aspire S3 is one of the models which is better suited for what I was looking for. It is impressive for meetings, simple and easy to carry for full day events, travelling, and coffee-shop startup meetings where you only want a PowerPoint presentation and some Internet access without taking too much table space.

I have only started installation so I will cover performance on another post, after I am done setting up the system and started using it. I can tell you already that since this is not a workstation for me I did not get a system with an SSD drive. This means that I expect performance to be medium. On the other hand they have a small SSD hidden drive on the Ultrabook to allow fast Hibernation. This is interesting to test but my point is that I am not going to give it an easy time and I am going to compare performance with my workstation laptop - a DELL Latitude with Core i7, 8GB RAM and a 256GB SSD drive. I can already tell you that this Core i5 Ultrabook is already wining boot time and sleep / wakeup time, so I am not even going to compare that.

Right now all I can show you is that I got this device with help of Christina Green and Yair Weissler who were really helpful and understanding in the process. Eventually what I got was this huge box when I was expecting a slim Ultrabook:

Then I opened the large box to find out that it is mostly empty and has a smaller box inside it:

This was thinner than the box I got for my older laptop but still looks big enough. Inside it there was another box:

... and in it a really small box:

That's more like it. Now it's getting exciting and there it is, an even thinner laptop. My first Ultrabook:

You want to know how thin it really is?

Here it is compared to my Nokia C3 and a WD external USB drive:

If you ask yourself, the answer is yes - it is the same height as the mobile 2.5'' drive:

The base of the Ultrabook (without the display) is the same as my Nokia C3 which is a thin device.

The only performance tests I have for now are the turn on from Hibernation and turn on from Sleep. When the lid is closed the device goes to sleep in about 2 seconds. When the lid is open the system wakes up again. If the Ultrabook is in sleep mode for too long it would automatically Hibernate to save battery life. Sleep mode took almost nothing from the battery over night. If you want to save battery life then simply decrease display backlight power.

Here is resume from Hibernate: (click to watch)

In case you are wondering that was 7 seconds.

Here is the resume from Sleep. I am not even going to count that in seconds: (click to watch)

That would be it for now. Now I am installing Visual Studio 2008 (and then 2010). All I can tell you right now is that it is relatively fast, considering not having an SSD drive. Much faster than my older workstation laptop which I got 4 years ago.


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


About the Author

Asaf Shelly
United States United States
Microsoft MVP: Technical Computing R&D (8 years Digital Media until 2010)
Intel Black-Belt: Parallel Programming
Owner of Multicore and Parallel Computing gourp on Linkedin
Driver Developer, Firmware, UX Expert, Algorithms.
ASM, C, C++, C#, JS, Asp.Net, BC++

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