During Acer’s Media Challenge in Davao on Friday, we were given the chance to use the Taiwanese PC maker’s notebooks in one challenge that involved writing a few lines of text.
We thought the notebooks used were just the usual ones that have already been released in the country, until somebody pointed out that an Acer Aspire S5 was actually part of that notebook fleet.
The Acer Aspire S5 was first unveiled during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in January this year, and was one of the new line of Ultrabooks that dominated the annual gadget show.
When it was unveiled, it was touted to be the thinnest Ultrabook out there at just 15 millimeters thick. It was the successor to the Aspire S3 Hummingbird, which was unveiled only in October of 2011.
We sought Acer out to borrow the Aspire S5 for several minutes to see how it fares against its siblings in the Intel Ultrabook family. At the outset though, we’d like to note: the Aspire S5 is dressed to impress, and we could only imagine what tricks other PC vendors have up their sleeves once they refresh their respective Ultrabook lineups this year.
The Aspire S5 comes in a white square box that, upon first look, closely resembles that of the MacBook’s sleek white packaging. We’re unsure, though, if the box that the unit came in would be the final one since it has no photos or text on it yet.
Upon opening the box, the purity of the white outer casing is quickly contrasted by a dark inline packaging that perfectly complements the color of the Ultrabook, which is tinted in a pure black, brushed-metal, magnesium-alloy finish.
Rounded corners surround the 13-inch lid of the Aspire S5. Besides the brand logo, the only features visible are the two LED indicator lights near the hinges of the lid when it is closed.
The Ultrabook measures just 15 millimeters at its thickest point, which is at the intersection of the lid and the main chassis of the unit. The left side panel contains the power button and the SD/MMC memory card reader.
The charging port, located behind the unit near the left hinge, is the only port exposed at the outer panels of the notebook. The other ports, we would later learn, are “hidden” somewhere.
The right-side panel, on the other hand, contains the (3.2mm) headphone jack and a small microphone receiver.
Upon opening the lid, the standard-size keyboard becomes visible, along with the trackpad. The keyboard area is coated with an obvious brush-metal finish, while the palm rest is covered with a plastic material. The Aspire
S5 wouldn’t be an all-metal notebook, after all, unlike what was earlier reported.
A closer look at the Chiclet-type keys of the keyboard would reveal that they do not come with any backlight, which has been customary in most of the new notebook releases recently.
The Aspire S5’s palm rest is wide and spacious, as seen in this comparison photo with an iPhone 4S. It takes up about 75 percent of the iPhone’s size, or around three to four inches. The trackpad operates very smoothly and includes a number of multi-finger gestures comparable with the ones in
Apple’s Mac OS X.
This is as far as the lid of the Aspire S5 goes. Its hinges, however, appear to be a bit loose, so the display tends to shake ever so slightly occasionally.
The main chassis is flush at the bottom, giving the notebook a “hovering” effect and lends it quite a bit of elegance and differentiation from the usual boxed-up design found in most notebooks today.
The Dolby Digital speakers are found at both sides of the unit in the bottom, with the flushed area giving the sound enough area to bounce around the surface the notebook is on.
A comparison photo between the 11-inch MacBook Air and the 13-inch Acer Aspire S5 Ultrabook.
The back area also contains the grills for the vent.
Instant on? You bet! We counted the boot-up time to the Windows 7 desktop, and it only took the Aspire S5 about 12 seconds to load the operating system.
But when it all comes down to it, the MacBook Air appears to be just as thick as the Aspire S5 at its thickest point.
The bottom of the Aspire S5 only shows the replaceable battery panel. Acer’s new Ultrabook now only features a pure solid-state device (SSD) drive for storage, unlike its predecessor which uses a combination of SSD and SATA drives, with the SSD drive clearly visible under the unit.
We were quite curious about this button at the top-right corner of the keyboard area, which looks like a button meant for the unit’s USB port. When an Acer PR representative told us how it works, we were clearly amused.
The button is actually for a feature Acer calls the “MagicFlip I/O.” Upon pressing the button, a hidden tray at the back of the Aspire S5 retracts downward and reveals all the essential ports—which includes an HDMI port, two USB 3.0 ports, and the Thunderbolt port.
According to an Acer Philippines executive, the unit lent to us is still an engineering prototype, so the software that controls the MagicFlip has yet to be finalized. We were thinking of scenarios such as how the MagicFlip would react once the notebook has run out of battery, since it is only operational when the unit is on.
The Acer executive told InterAksyon.com that the Aspire S3 will be announced in the Philippines around June, but will ship several months after that. It will come with the latest Intel processor—the 22-nanometer Ivy Bridge CPU — which is slated for release at the end of the month.
Unfortunately, no official price points have been announced by Acer Philippines for the Aspire S5 yet. But since it comes with the latest Intel processor upon launch and uses a pure SSD drive for storage, the executive said it would be priced a bit higher than the Aspire S3 upon launch, so we’re looking at a P45,000 upwards price range.