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The S3's Lithium polymer three-cell battery performed better than we expected. With all power saving features turned off and the WiFi radio on and connected, Paramount's 48 Hours played continuously from the hard drive at full screen and full brightness for five and a half hours. After putting itself to sleep due to low power, the S3 awoke in just a few seconds by reading its state from a 20-GB SSD that's dedicated to the job. A deep sleep mode preserves battery life for as many as 50 days, according to Acer. A separate 320-GB spinning hard drive stores the operating system, apps and user data. The MacBook Air offers no spinning drive and a maximum of 256 GB of storage (all flash).
The Acer Aspire S3 Ultrabook alone tips the scales at a feather less than three pounds; the power adapter and its 12-foot cord adds another 11 ounces. The S3 generates minimal heat, measuring its hottest at 90 degrees along left edge and left side of the keyboard. Everywhere else on the machine was around between 80 and 85 degrees, slightly warm to the touch. The S3's work deck measures 12.5 x 8.5 inches.
If the Ultrabook portends the future of mobile computing, then we favor the design for its slim good looks, fast performance, and suitability to task (not to mention similarity to Apple products). For $899, including Windows 7 and a one-year warranty, the Acer Aspire S3 is a terrific product that costs several hundred dollars less than a comparably equipped MacBook Air. It's also a recommended product by the CRN Test Center.
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