Intel’s decision to offer portability in laptops by slimming them down and removing weight was not met well by a lot of people, some considering that the company is too attached and dependent on the x86 architecture for their processors, but let’s be honest, no ARM processors will be able to match an x86 in performance anytime soon, and at the rate the power requirements are going down, x86 processors might actually become feasible for use in smaller devices like tablets and smartphones without heating up like a frying pan.
The Ultrabook laptops are supposed to exemplify that – the ultra-thin laptops will be running ultra-low voltage, full-fledged Core i processors that will be able to run any programs, even resource intensive ones, without problems. Indeed, seeing as a Sandy Bridge dual core i7 running at 2.5 GHz is (ever-so-slightly) faster than the old Core 2 Quad QX9300, while consuming half the power, it isn’t hard to imagine how a slower 1.7 GHz ULV i7 could be enough to run Photoshop or even After Effects with ease.
The Ultrabook design and rumors have been around for two years now, and we’re finally getting to see them in person. One of the first companies to show off an Ultrabook was Acer, with their Aspire S3, and it looks pretty impressive, despite being in the early stages of development.
The first thing you think when you see the Aspire Ultrabook S3 is “MacBook Air”. Indeed, it looks a lot like Apple’s machine, which was way ahead of its time when it first launched and it still looks and works amazingly well. I don’t know how Acer could’ve changed the design, however, since a slim laptop will always be tapered at the edged for the “thinnest” look and feel, while the hardware is in the center, and the minimalistic design is preferred over a dozen of media buttons, but I guess everyone will compare the Ultrabooks to the Air for the first year or so. Still, the Ultrabook S3 is certainly not an Air on the inside: despite having a metal lid, the inside is made out of plastic and it looks that way, too.
The Ultrabook S3 will come with a choice of Core i3, i5 and i7 processors, which should make it a good purchase for a wider audience. There will be up to 4 GB of RAM on board the laptop, which is actually pretty impressive considering its size, and the storage space will be provided either by a simple hard drive or an SSD, with the latter being faster and making the battery last longer, as well.
The main promises of the Ultrabook S3 are a blazingly fast resume time of 1.5 seconds, a 50 days standby battery life time and 7 hours of continuous work on one battery charge – while we’ll need to wait for the production model to test the latter two, it seems that the resume is indeed as fast as they claim – it’s like the BIOS screen doesn’t even show up! Acer also implemented Acer Instant Connect into the S3, which makes it possible for the laptop to connect to the nearest and best Wifi spot almost instantly, as well.
While I don’t really understand the need for instant resume and 50 days on standby (I’m one of those people who shuts down their laptop sometimes :-), the Ultrabook concept and Acer’s new Aspire certainly look impressive. The price will start at 799 euro, however, which is pretty steep, but if you need a powerful and very portable machine with great battery life, this could be it.