Acer Aspire S3

Aspire S3 specs:
13.3″ LCD display @ 1366×768 pixels
Intel Core i5 2467M 1.6Ghz dual-core
Intel HD Graphics 3000 w/ 128MB RAM
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
2-in-1 card reader
USB 2.0 port
HDMI port
Windows 7 Home Premium

Acer’s ultrabook has finally reached the Philippines — the Acer Aspire S3 series. Acer Philippines is the first one to launch the ultrabook in the country today with the Hummingbird.

Acer promises up to 6 hours of battery life on the S3. It also comes with a 320GB HDD for storage and another 20GB of SSD for buffer/caching.

Ever since the MacBook Air came out, consumers--and other notebook makers--have been lusting after that ultra-slim design. The 13-inch Acer Aspire S3 parrots this sexy aesthetic with a brushed aluminum lid, 3-pound weight, and half-inch thick chassis. And, at $899, it's $200 to $300 less expensive than competing systems such as the upcoming ASUS Zenbook UX31 and the Air, making it all the more appealing to those looking to save a few pennies. But are the trade-offs worth it?

It's pretty clear that every Ultrabook maker is gunning for the MacBook Air, and the Aspire S3 is no exception. However, Acer had to make some sacrifices to keep its price low--no duralumin or unibody designs here. The lid of the S3 is a brushed aluminum, but the underside and deck are made of a silver-colored plastic, and it's made to look like a unibody design even though it is not. The black hinge area at the rear accommodates the S3's ports as well as an air vent. Four rubber pads on the bottom also keep the S3 from sliding around on a desk.

At just 0.51-0.6 inches thick, the S3 is a shade thicker than the 13-inch MacBook Air, which tapers from 0.11 to 0.68 inches. Weighing 3 pounds even, the S3 is also on a par with Apple's ultraportable. This system easily slipped into a small messenger bag and was barely noticeable as we rode home on the subway.

Heat dissipation is critical on thin systems, and thankfully the S3 does an excellent job at this. After we streamed a Hulu video at full screen for 15 minutes, the underside was a cool 85 degrees, and the touchpad and G and H keys were an even cooler 79 and 81 degrees, respectively. All are well below what we consider uncomfortable--95 degrees.
Keyboard and Touchpad

The island-style keyboard on the S3 isn't the worst we've ever used, but it was a bit stiff ; keys were large and well spaced (with the exception of the arrow keys, which were a pain), but we would have preferred a little more travel and responsiveness. On more than one occasion, the keyboard missed our inputs when we were typing at a fast pace, and we had to make a conscious effort to press harder.

The 3.4 x 2.5-inch Elan clickpad wasn't as large as the one on the MacBook Air, but it was big and responsive enough for us to execute multitouch gestures such as pinch-to-zoom. We like that Elan added a four-finger swipe that automatically minimizes all windows to reveal the desktop. The click action on the bottom of the pad was a little mushy, though, and people who use two hands may find that it sticks.
Display and Audio

Acer Aspire S3 Ultrabook Design 2

We were underwhelmed by the S3's low-quality, 13.3-inch 1366 x 768-pixel display, which offers much less screen real estate than competitors such as the ASUS UX31 (1600 x 900) and the MacBook Air 13-inch (1440 x 900). Whether watching a 480p episode of Castle on Hulu or a 720p trailer for The Avengers, we noticed plenty of pixelation and splotchiness in darker areas, and blacks weren't as true as we'd like. Viewing angles were also pretty poor. Sitting to either side of the notebook resulted in reversed images and colors, so it'll be tough sharing the screen with friends.

Two speakers, located on the underside on the left and right edges, provided adequate sound for their size, but were limited by their size. We could barely fill a cubicle when playing Notorious BIG's "Big Poppa" at full volume, and even then it was overly tinny. We liked that the Dolby Home Theater v4 utility would automatically adjust the audio settings based on what we were listening to--and indeed, added some depth and layering--but ultimately, it made little difference, as anything coming out of the speakers sounded like an AM radio.
Ports and Webcam

Though it's such a thin notebook, the S3 fits two USB 2.0 ports and a full-size HDMI port on the back, as well as an SD card reader on the right side. However, it should be noted that the ASUS UX31 has a USB 3.0 port, as well as mini HDMI and mini VGA ports.

Acer Aspire S3 Ultrabook Ports

The 1.3-megapixel webcam on the S3 returned fairly bright and crisp images. When we chatted with a friend on Google Chat, skin tones were accurate and audio remained in sync. We did notice a bit of blurring when she moved around, though.
Boot and Wake From Sleep

One of the advantages touted by Ultrabook proponents is the ability to boot and resume from sleep nearly instantly. However, that only works when the notebook has an SSD. While the Aspire S3 has a 20GB SSD, that drive is only used as a hibernation partition for saving memory to disk to enable quick resumes, not for booting or loading applications. All the action, including the bootup, occurs on the mechanical 320GB, 5,400-rpm hard drive.

Because it relies on such a slow hard drive, the Aspire S3 took 1 minute and 5 seconds to boot into Windows 7 Home Premium. That's dead on with the ultraportable category average, but far longer than the MacBook Air (17 seconds) and the Samsung Series 9 (25 seconds).

Due to the SSD hibernation partition, the S3 was able to resume from sleep in a very fast 3 seconds, which is just a second or so slower than its ultrabook competition. However, we noticed a problem where the notebook would not wake at all if we lifted the lid within just a few seconds of shutting it in the first place. In those cases, we would have to hit the power button after a few seconds to get it going.

Inside the Aspire S3 is a second-gen 1.6-GHz Intel Core i5-2467M Processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 320GB, 5,400-rpm hard drive, which powered the system to a PCMark Vantage score of 5,489. That's a good 500 points above the category average, but the MacBook Air we reviewed, which has a 1.7-GHz Core i5 processor and 128GB SSD, notched a far higher 11,230 when we ran the same test in Boot Camp. We saw similar results with Geekbench: The Aspire S3 scored 3,538, which, again, is 500 points higher than the ultraportable notebook average (3,062), but second to the MacBook Air (5,860). Still, the S3 is more than speedy enough to play movies, type in Google Docs, and listen to music.

Compare PCMark Vantage results with similar laptops

Sadly, the mechanical hard drive wasn't the fastest in the business: It took 3 minutes and 35 seconds to duplicate a 4.97GB folder of multimedia. That's a rate of 23.7 MBps, which is far below the category average of 37 MBps.

Compare LAPTOP File Transfer Test results with similar laptops

It took the Aspire S3 8 minutes and 3 seconds to perform a VLOOKUP command in OpenOffice; that's nearly two minutes longer than the category average (6:14) as well as the MacBook Air (6:16).

Outfitted with Intel HD graphics, the S3 returned results that weren't great, but weren't unexpected either. On 3DMark06, the S3 scored 3,257, which is about 400 points above the average and 1,000 points higher than the Samsung Series 9 (2,188) but 1,000 points below the MacBook Air (4,236).

Compare 3DMark06 results with similar laptops

When playing World of Warcraft, the S3 averaged 26 frames per second with the display at its native resolution and effects set to Good; that's a little more than half the category average of 43 fps. When we maxed out the settings, the S3's frame rates dropped to just 11 fps, which is only 6 fps below average, but still quite unplayable. The MacBook Air managed 28 fps at these same settings.

Acer keeps it clean on the Aspire S3, including little pre-loaded software. Home-grown apps include Acer Deep Sleep settings, which lets you specify whether the notebook goes into deep sleep after 120 minutes or 480 minutes; Acer Backup Manager; Acer Crystal Eye Webcam; the Acer Games portal; and for sharing multimedia wirelessly across a network (pictured).

Other software includes AUPEO Internet radio, newsXpresso (a nice-looking RSS reader, pictured), Nook for PC, Skype, Microsoft Office Starter, and a 60-day trial of McAffee Internet Security.

Acer claims that the Aspire S3 should get between 6 to 7 hours on a charge. Sadly, we didn't see anywhere close to that. On the LAPTOP Battery Test (web surfing via Wi-Fi), the S3 lasted just 4 hours and 23 minutes, which is two hours less than the ultraportable average and the MacBook Air (6:33). The Samsung Series 9 lasted nearly an hour longer, too: 5:11. We will retest the S3 and update this review if necessary,

Priced at $899, it's clear that Acer is trying to undercut its Ultrabook competitors, but in doing so, it had to make a few sacrifices. For example, the Aspire S3's chassis is plastic, not metal, and it has a mechanical hard drive, not an SSD. It's also missing the little niceties, such as a high-res display and a backlit keyboard. While we might be willing to compromise on those issues, the one area where we can't compromise is battery life, and unfortunately the S3 falls way short in that category. The less-sexy ASUS U36SD is also less than an inch thick, and it offers much better performance and 8 hours of battery life for around the same price as the S3. Or, for just $200 more, you can get ASUS' Zenbook UX31, which has a higher-res screen and a powerful 256GB SSD.

Acer Iconia Smart S300

The Acer Iconia Smart has just cleared the FCC and is headed our way soon. Spotted at the FCC getting a little teardown we now get to see a few of the internals of this huge 4.8″ phone-tablet hybrid from Acer. It was first announced back in February and we even have some hands-on video from MWC2011 of the device, it’s a unique smartphone that is for sure. Back in May it was delayed and the last we heard it was slated for a September release. At least it’s finally hitting the FCC, we can expect a release shortly I’m assuming.

Like mentioned above, last we heard the Iconia Smart was headed to market this September, sadly that time has passed and we are now hopeful for a October launch especially because its cleared the FCC. For those that didn’t check out the hands-on video above (you should) this phone features a 1024 x 600 resolution 4.8″ display, Android 2.3 Gingerbread but would be awesome with Ice Cream Sandwich. It was announced with a single-core 1 GHz Snapdragon processor but this late in the game I’m really hoping for something better and possibly two cores. The teardown reveals the same CPU so it looks like we wont get any such luck with a dual-core. It does however have an 8 megapixel rear camera with a nice 2 MP front for video chat and an awesome aspect ratio that is great for browsing the web.

So far we have no further details on a US launch, or what carriers may see this device here in the U.S. but we are hopeful that Acer will announce something soon. It may not be the thinnest, nor the fastest smartphone arround but it’s definitely unique that is for sure. I’d love to get my hands on this smartphone just to see what it’s all about. In the meantime check out the teardown over at wirelessgoodness.

Would you buy this 4.8″ 1024 x 600 resolution smartphone? Or is the processor not fast enough in this high powered dual-core world our smartphones now live in? Let us know in the comment section below.

The local Honeycomb tablet wars has begun with Taiwanese giant Acer firing the first shot with the release of the Iconia Tab A500 in an event held at the Crowne Plaza Galleria. This 10.1-inch tablet sports some pretty nice hardware, with the A500 sporting an NVIDIA Tegra 250 dual core processor running @ 1GHz. The Iconia Smart S300 meanwhile sports a 4.8-inch display, which is currently one of the biggest displays in a smartphone so far which is complimented by a Qualcomm 8255 processor delivering 1GHz of power. I managed to get some hands on time with both – you can go here for my hands on of the Iconia Smart S300.

Unlike the Motorola XOOM, the Iconia Tab A500 has plenty of hard buttons, with the power and volume controls located on top and on the right side of the Tab. The overall build quality is pretty solid, with the unit sporting a nice metallic finish.

The Iconia Tab A500 has two cameras, a main 5 megapixel camera with LED flash, and a secondary front facing 2 megapixel one.

You are here: Home / Events / Acer launches Honeycomb equipped Iconia Tab A500 and Gingerbread powered Iconia Smart S300
Acer launches Honeycomb equipped Iconia Tab A500 and Gingerbread powered Iconia Smart S300
April 29, 2011 By John Nieves View Comments

The local Honeycomb tablet wars has begun with Taiwanese giant Acer firing the first shot with the release of the Iconia Tab A500 in an event held at the Crowne Plaza Galleria. This 10.1-inch tablet sports some pretty nice hardware, with the A500 sporting an NVIDIA Tegra 250 dual core processor running @ 1GHz. The Iconia Smart S300 meanwhile sports a 4.8-inch display, which is currently one of the biggest displays in a smartphone so far which is complimented by a Qualcomm 8255 processor delivering 1GHz of power. I managed to get some hands on time with both – you can go here for my hands on of the Iconia Smart S300.

Unlike the Motorola XOOM, the Iconia Tab A500 has plenty of hard buttons, with the power and volume controls located on top and on the right side of the Tab. The overall build quality is pretty solid, with the unit sporting a nice metallic finish.

The different sides of the A500.

The Iconia Tab A500 has two cameras, a main 5 megapixel camera with LED flash, and a secondary front facing 2 megapixel one.

This particular iteration of Honeycomb is pretty fast, and the on the whole the device is very responsive.

The Iconia Tab A500 is capable of some heavy multitasking. I opened up a couple of tabs before I ran the Android game Need for Speed Shift. Speaking of Shift, we’ll be uploading a video of the Iconia Tab A500 once our internet gets better.

Overall my short time with the Iconia Tab A500 was pretty positive. There’s still a lot of ground to cover though, as the hotel’s WiFi was pretty useless. There’s no official word on the price yet, but Acer execs say that the WiFi version of the Iconia Tab A500 will retail below Php 25,000, while the 3G equipped version will sell for less than Php 30,000. Both will become available in Q2 (May to June). We’ll get to an in-depth review as soon as we get a review unit.

Acer Iconia Smart S300
4.8″ LCD display @ 1024×480 pixels (236ppi)
Qualcomm 8255 1GHz processor
Adreno 205 GPU
HSDPA 14.1 Mbps, HSUPA 5.76 Mbps
8GB internal storage
up to 32GB via microSD card
8 megapixel autofocus rear camera with LED flash
2 megapixel front camera
720p @ 30fps video recording
HDMI out
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, WiFi hotspot
Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR
FM radio with RDS
Li-Po 1500 mAh battery
Acer UI 4.2
Android 2.3 Gingerbread

BlackBerry Bold 9900 Review

RIM has launched a new addition in the Bold series of Smartphones. The Smartphone was unveiled during this year's BlackBerry World conference in Florida. RIM officially announced the released of the phone called BlackBerry Bold 9900 and referred it as the "thinnest and most powerful BlackBerry smartphone yet". A CDMA version of the phone has also been released which is named as the BlackBerry Bold 9930.
The Bold 9900 comes with the famous BlackBerry QWERTY keypad with optical trackpad, and runs on the new BB 7 OS. The Smartphone debuts the new BB OS 7 that provides a more user-friendly experience, with an enhanced web browser, voice-activated searches. It comes with a new technology called the BlackBerry Balance that allows keeping your personal content and corporate data separate and additional apps for work and entertainment.
It is powered by a powerful 1.2GHz processor and supports NFC technology. It also features inbuilt compass for augmented reality. This new BlackBerry Smartphone comes equipped with a 2.8 inches wide Liquid Graphics touch-screen that delivers a 60 frames-per-second performance with "instant UI action/response".
The handset looks very impressive in a 10.5mm-deep, brushed stainless steel frame and includes a 5 megapixel digital camera with 720p HD video recording and playback capabilities.
In the official press release of the company, Mike Lazaridis, President and Co-CEO, Research In Motion, the company that manufactures BlackBerry Smartphones, stated: "The new BlackBerry Bold Smartphones and BlackBerry 7 OS are inspired by millions of customers around the world who want the ultimate combination of performance, functionality and style. These fully-loaded and beautifully crafted Smartphones offer a highly refined user experience with blazingly fast performance, a brilliant touch screen and an outstanding typing experience."
Other notable features of these mobile phones include 8 GB on-board memory plus microSD slot supporting up to 32 GB cards, orientation sensor (accelerometer), digital compass (magnetometer), proximity sensor, built-in GPS / aGPS, dual-band Wi-Fi - 802.11 b/g/n at 2.4 GHz and 802.11 a/n at 5 GHz, Bluetooth 2.1 plus EDR support, Tri-Band HSPA+, Quad-Band GSM/EDGE.
Soon after the launch of the device, two major carriers in UK confirmed that they will be offering the phone. Initially the device is expected to arrive under pay monthly BlackBerry Bold 9900 deals which are expected to reach the market later this summer. To buy the phone, you can check the online phone shops where you can get detailed information on pricing and availability of the phone.

RIM’s newest flagship smartphone is the BlackBerry Bold 9900, sometimes also referred to as the BlackBerry Bold Touch. RIM’s back with a fresh new Bold that’s undoubtedly the best BlackBerry RIM has ever made. Read on and see our full review of the Bold 9900 after the jump.

I have to admit that I have not been a huge fan of the BlackBerry — have not bought one before either and the only time I get to use them is when I get a review unit to use for 2 weeks to a couple of months.
Having tried the Bold 9900 has rekindled my love for full-qwerty smartphones. It reminded me of how much I liked the Samsung BlackJack & Nokia E71 when I first bought them many years ago.

I have long since moved to bigger screens and full touch interface. The BlackBerry Bold 9900 is the total opposite — full qwerty (the physical kind) and relatively small screen. But allow me to take the case of the Bold — because, at the end of the day, either you’re the full touchscreen type of person or the full-qwerty keypad type.
In some ways, the Bold 9900 did not really depart from the usual design mantra of RIM. It’s classic and elegant, ergonomic for fast texters and does the job as you’d expect from any BlackBerry device.

Yes it’s thinner, it’s faster and it’s bolder.
If you’ve tried any of the previous models of BlackBerry handsets, you’d agree that they needed a little work-out to trim down their waistline. The Bold 9900 did just that — it’s fit and sexy, not the thinnest of all the smartphones but definitely the thinnest among the BBs.
The design is minimalistic yet elegant — a metallic silver lining along a curved edge, power button on top, volume control (with pause/play in the middle) on the right side along with a dedicated camera button, microUSB port on the left along with the 3.5mm audio jack, and camera with flash at the back.

The back panel’s got a chiseled edge with what could be polished glass and transparent, embossed polymer covering a woven pattern on the battery lid. Great idea putting a nice piece of solid hard glass on top of the camera and flash — helps keep the scratches off the lens and makes it easier to clean the smudge off when you want to take photos later.
The SIM card and microSD card slots are both found under the battery compartment. There are no speaker grills to speak of but seems like the sound is coming from the battery compartment and the little latch to open the lid serves as a small opening for the speakers.

The full-qwerty keypad on the Bold 9900 is probably the best keypad I’ve ever used on any handset. It’s soft, easy to type on and the keys are chiseled in such a way that it fits very well with both your opposing thumbs. No individual keys are alike as they are shaped and fitted to the contours of a curved layout.
Performance of the Bold Touch 9900 has improved a lot compared to the previous model, thanks to the powerful 1.2GHz processor and the generous 768MB RAM. And since BB 7 OS has also improved, this added to a better user experience. The UI is very responsive, apps load fairly quick, HD video playback is smooth and web browsing is generally fast with efficient page rendering (no Flash support though).
The 5MP camera on the Bold 9900 is surprisingly good — takes decent to very good pictures even if it’s just fixed focused, and fairly quick in between shots. I’d say it’s pretty much in the same league as the Nokia E6 in terms of quality. The downside is that in might not perform as well on low-light environments and close-up subjects.

BlackBerry Bold 9900 specs:
• 2.8″ capacitive touch screen display @ 640×480, 287 dpi resolution
• QWERTY keyboard, optical trackpad
• 1.2 GHz processor
• 768 MB RAM
• 8GB on-board memory,
• microSD slot supporting up to 32GB
• NFC technology
• 5MP camera w/ 720p HD video recording
• Orientation Sensor (Accelerometer)
• Digital Compass (Magnetometer)
• Proximity Sensor
• GPS with aGPS support
• Dual-Band WiFi 802.11 b/g/n @ 2.4 GHz and 802.11 a/n @ 5GHz
• Bluetooth 2.1+EDR
• 1230 mAh Li-Ion battery
• BlackBerry 7 OS
The BlackBerry 7 OS has definitely added a bit of enhancement coming from the previous OS. The navigation and UI might seem a little confusing at first (especially if you’re a new user) but you will soon find it pretty easy to use. Sometimes though, you get too much options you feel like drowning in menu options. But if you’re already a BlackBerry user, you’re in familiar territory.

Availability of apps is something a lot of people consider when getting a smartphone and luckily, the BlackBerry App World has enough of them for you to download. A total of about 14,000 apps listed on the App World should be enough, right?
The top apps I’d download on any other smartphones are there — Twitter, FourSquare, Facebook, Dropbox. There are games as well but I noticed most of the apps here are paid instead of free. I guess developers think BB users can afford to buy apps than most other smartphone users.

The NFC feature is cool to have but because there aren’t any NFC-capable devices/services around to pair it with, it remains just that — a nice, un-usable feature.
Call quality is very good but the audio is just average (as mentioned earlier, the speaker was positioned at the back beneath the battery lid.) The absence of an FM tuner isn’t a biggie but some might still want that feature in their handsets.
Battery life is decent, not the very best, but is expected on any BlackBerry Bold before it. If you’re not heavy on the app, it will last you 2 to 3 days of regular use. Just wondered why they didn’t bump it to at least 1500mAh though.

The BlackBerry Bold 9900 isn’t perfect — it’s obviously targeted to a niche group of people, those who prefer functionality, speed and organization more than gaming, multimedia and screen real estate.
It will be hard to sell the Bold 9900 to someone who’s used to large screens and virtual keypads but it’s an easy sell, and I’d even dare say, a top choice for those looking at a qwerty smartphone. That, plus the fact that BBM still rules in some segment of the market.
When RIM said that the BlackBerry Bold 9900 is the best BlackBerry they’ve ever made, I’d easily agree and say yes. But that nod practically ends there. If you’re not into the BIS and BBM, there’s the cheaper Nokia E6, the HTC Chacha and the Samsung Galaxy Pro.
The handset is out in the market with a suggested retail price of Php31,690 and was released last week (some stores sell unlocked units for as low as Php28,500). I’d suggest getting it with a postpaid plan so it’s free or subsidized.