Acer has launched a notebook that is part of the 'Ultrabook' class of laptops unveiled by Intel at the May/June Computex trade show in Taiwan. The Acer Aspire S3 is a 13.3-inch notebook that weighs 1.35kg — about the same weights as the 13-inch model of Apple's ultraportable MacBook Air.
Ultraportable notebooks have generally targeted the high-end of the market; budget-conscious consumers after a lightweight notebook have often had minimal choices other than netbooks. However, Intel is targeting mainstream buyers with the Ultrabook class, which will have a price point of under $US1000 (although the Aspire S3 has a base price of $1199).
Ultrabook notebooks will be "thin, light and beautiful", and the initial models will employ ultra-love-voltage CPUs from Intel's 2nd Generation Core range. The laptops will run processors based on the Sandy Bridge architecture, but Ivy Bridge-based models will be available in 2012. Ultrabooks will be less than 20mm thick; the Aspire S3 is 13mm thick, according to Acer.
"Eventually you'll think of an Ultrabook as a tablet when you want it, a PC when you need it," Intel has claimed. According to Intel, the launch of the Ultrabook category is not a sign it has failed in the tablet market. However Mooly Eden, Intel's vice-president and general manager of Intel's PC Client Group, has admitted that the company is "late": "Today there are many tablets that do not have Intel inside. But we are putting a lot of effort to cash in." Beginning in 2012, Ultrabooks will be available with touchscreens.
Other characteristics of Ultrabooks are super-speedy boot-up times using Intel's Rapid Start Technology, in an attempt to compete with the 'instant on' abilities of tablets, and lengthy battery lives (five plus hours). The S3 will be able to resume in 1.5 seconds, Acer claims, and delivers a "50-day battery life".
Intel has invested $US300 million in companies to develop technologies that complement Ultrabooks. The company intends for Ultrabooks to snaffle a 40 per cent share of the consumer notebook market by the end of next year.
There are four models of the Acer Aspire S3 available, running Intel Core i3, i5 and i7 processors. The entry-level, i3-based Aspire S3-951 has a recommended retail price of $1199; the top-of-the-line Acer Aspire S3-951 has an RRP of $2099. The notebooks will be available in Australia from next month.