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Acer Joins Ultrabook Market, Unveils Aspire S3

Acer threw its hat into the Ultrabook game with the release of the Aspire S3 on Friday.

the new PC category

In line with Intel's requirements for the Ultrabook category, the Aspire S3 supports quick boot up times and an extended battery life, while the 13-mm width makes it the thinnest of the Ultrabooks to date. The Aspire S3 is also the first Ultrabook with an option for a hard disk drive (HDD), although it includes an embedded solid state drive (SSD) dedicated to the quick boot functionality.

"As the only Ultrabook with an HDD option, the Aspire S3 offers the computing power and storage needs of a notebook, along with the mobile communication advantages of the smartphone and tablet PC," said Campbell Kan, president of personal computer global operations at Acer, in a statement. "It's a major breakthrough in notebook design and will surely fortify our notebook competitiveness in the ICT market."

SSD makes it possible for Ultrabooks to boot up and resume from sleep quickly, but it also adds to the price of the machine. The HDD option on the Aspire S3 integrates SSD with the mainboard and dedicates it to this functionality, but it is not visible in the file explorers, the statement said.

The Aspire S3 runs on an Intel Core i3, Core i5 or Core i7 processor and offers 240 GB of SSD storage or the HDD options. Either 320 GB or 500 GB of HDD storage integrates with embedded SSD for users seeking a spinning hard drive. The battery life ranges from 7 hours of productive use to 50 days of standby.

Like Lenovo's Ultrabook, the Aspire S3 features a vent free bottom, meaning hot air releases from the back of the machine instead of the underside. Aside from Acer's HDD option, the specifications of the three Ultrabooks unveiled this week are similar, and some analysts expect that trend to continue in the short term.

"In the beginning there is very little differentiation. What you see is Intel being the orchestra chief -- they release all of the reference designs and specify the technical elements," said David Daoud, director of research in the personal computing group at research firm IDC.

The Acer Aspire S3 ships in select regions in September, with a full release in October, for a cost of $1,134 to $1,702 depending on configuration. Acer expects the product to be its "star product" during the fourth quarter, the statement said.

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