Acer Aspire S3-951-6646 13.3" (320 GB, Intel Core i5 2nd Gen., 1.6 GHz, 4 GB) Notebook - Silver - LX.RSF02.079
3 consumer reviews
Average Product Rating:
Good 1st gen ultrabook, slightly flawed build quality
Mar 13, 2013
Review by larwe
Rated a Helpful Review
User Rating: Excellent
Ease of Use:
Quality of Tech Support:
Pros:Thin and light. Good battery life. Most ports you'll need. Fast resume.
Cons:No SSD. Finish on surfaces isn't durable. Lack of wired Ethernet is irritating.
The Bottom Line: A good machine if you need super portability and reasonable battery life. Not very durable, though.
The Acer S3 (951-6646 specifically) is one of the first generation Ultrabooks, and cosmetically designed to look very much like the MacBook Air. In fact, if you have a sticker over the logo, people will ask you if that's a new Apple machine you're using! I bought my S3 in early 2012, at which time they were running a promotion for $799 with a $100 mail-in rebate - very reasonable pricing.
Recommend this product?
The feature set is pretty complete - 4GB RAM, 320GB HDD (with a special 24GB flash assist drive - more on this later), 1.6GHz dual-core i5-2467M processor, WiFi, SD/MMC card reader, three USB 2.0 ports, HDMI video out, 13.3" WXGA screen, and inbuilt webcam and mic. I didn't realize it when purchasing, but the computer also has built-in Bluetooth - this is great for using an external keyboard and mouse when you're at your desk. There is no analog VGA port and no wired Ethernet, and the two USB ports (and HDMI port) are at the back of the machine, so it's hard to access them without partially closing the lid.
The machine comes with Windows 7 Home Premium (and the usual garbageware found on all new PCs). Windows Experience Index is 4.6. For office productivity, simple gaming (Lord of the Rings Online is about the most demanding thing I run on it) and so on, it's fine. Obviously not a video editing powerhouse. The machine also becomes fairly warm during prolonged high-CPU usage like video playback. However, it handles everything up to 1080p video without performance issues at all. The vents are on the back of the machine, so it's not blowing hot air onto you.
The magnetic hard drive in this machine makes it not quite as durable and shock-resistant as an SSD machine (though of course you can upgrade to SSD if you wish - it's not exactly simple to install though). There is also a 24GB internal flash drive. This drive is used only for hibernation - it provides for extremely quick resume from suspend.
Build quality is good but not great. The exterior panels of the machine are metal (looks like brushed aluminum). The palmrest, however, is metallized plastic. Your wrists will very quickly wear unsightly black patches through this finish. My particular unit had the screen hinges slightly misaligned, and one of the bumpers on the LCD bezel not properly seated. The LCD hinge was very tight when I first bought it, but gradually developed some play over the year I used the machine fulltime. The overall message here is that you can feel the fact that you didn't pay a premium price - it's not awful quality, but it's not platinum grade either. The keyboard is chiclet-style a la MacBook, and the feel, size and travel of the keys are very comfortable. It has dedicated PgUp/PgDn keys too, which are often sacrificed on ultraportables - much appreciated. It has a large, clickable trackpad (essentially the buttons are buried under the trackpad) which is responsive and easy to use.
I have been overall very happy with this machine - battery life is enough for a cross-country flight (I consistently got five hours out of it while working), and the thin and light form factor slips easily into a case alongside papers.
Amount Paid (US$): 799
Operating System: Windows
Processor: Intel Pentium
Processor speed: over 1000
Screen Size: 13 inches
RAM: More than 256
Hard Drive (GB): Over 50
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