Following yesterday's announcement of the Lenovo U300s ultrabook, Acer and Toshiba have thrown their hats into the ring: Acer with its Aspire S3, and Toshiba with its Portege Z830.

Let's start with the similarities: Both feature a 13.3" screen with a 1366x768 resolution, Sandy Bridge ULV processors, DDR3 memory, an HDMI port, an SD card reader, wi-fi, a webcam, and bluetooth. Both also feature SSDs of varying capacities, though the Aspire S3 will offer a higher-capacity but slower mechanical HDD option (sources indicate that HDD models will feature an embedded SSD to retain the fast boot times required by Intel's Ultrabook spec, but specifics are hard to come by). Both will also launch later this year: Toshiba is commiting to November, while Acer declined to be more specific.


And the differences: the Toshiba model also features built-in Ethernet, a VGA port, a backlit keyboard, and a third USB port, while the Acer model is slightly thinner at 0.51 inches but heavier at about 3 pounds (the Toshiba is 0.63 inches high and weighs about 2.5 pounds, though it should be noted that the weight of each model may vary based on component selection). The Toshiba will also be cheaper, starting at around $1,000 (compared to the Acer's $1,179).

Looking at these early Ultrabooks, it's becoming clear that these laptops, like netbooks before them, are going to have to fight to differentiate themselves. In these particular models, this is mostly being done with ports: the Acer is the only one to lack a wired Ethernet port, while the Toshiba is the only to offer a VGA out and a third USB port.

This sort of heavy competition can be good, to a point, but I'm hoping we don't see the same thing we already see in the netbook and low-end laptop market: dozens of unexciting computers that are, for most intents and purposes, indistinguishable from one another.

Source: BusinessWire, PCMag


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  • lukarak - Sunday, September 4, 2011 - link

    Almost every new ATI card has a display port. Most new monitors have it as well.

    And mac isn't going anywhere. It grows more than the whole industry, so it is just the oposite.
  • KPOM - Saturday, September 3, 2011 - link

    Many of these Ultrabooks have MiniHDMI ports, not full HDMI ports. I can buy a mDP-to-HDMI adapter just as easily as I can a MiniHDMI-to-HDMI adapter.
  • B3an - Saturday, September 3, 2011 - link

    Why would people spend MORE for INFERIOR hardware? And i mean sane people that luckily theres still a lot of, and not people that buy something purely because it has a Apple logo.
    Many would certainly go for these ultrabooks over a Air. You get a way better deal here, overall better hardware, far better connectivity, and a real OS.
  • lukarak - Saturday, September 3, 2011 - link

    Well, because unlike a desktop PC, hardware, or the performance of it, is not everything. The screen and the touchpad are worth quite a bit of extra money they want for their product. It has nothing to do with the logo. Also, MBA can run both OSes fully supported, which you can't do quite that easily on most other laptops. So it is not a plus just to be able to run the 'real OS' but a minus not to be able the not-real one.
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, September 3, 2011 - link

    Except if you install Windows on a MacBook, you lose about a third of your battery life (because Apple doesn't even bother to optimize their Windows drivers/BIOS for lower power use).
  • damianrobertjones - Sunday, September 4, 2011 - link

    To hte average joe in the street the COST if the deciding factor OVER and above a fancy trackpad
  • lukarak - Tuesday, September 6, 2011 - link

    Well, not everyone buys everything cheapest. There is a saying, i'm not rich enough to buy cheap stuff.
  • tommyj - Saturday, September 3, 2011 - link

    Laptops have never been about raw specs, they've always been about portability and basic content creation/manipulation on the go.

    If I wanted a workstation with raw grunt, I'd get a desktop or a W series Thinkpad - obviously neither of the two are particularly nice to carry around. Ultrabooks are meant to be responsive (the SSD does this) and extremely portable devices for quick content creation. Its not like low power Sandy Bridge processors are weak, they're more than enough for light Photoshop and Lightroom work.

    How things currently are, the Macbook Air still has the better resolution and screen ratio (16:10!!!), larger touchpad than this Toshiba ultrabook, and an operating system that actually makes use of the full power of the touchpad.

    Logo or no logo, I would still go for the Macbook Air every time because these PC manufacturers and Microsoft still haven't understood how to make good hardware and software for lightweight consumer laptops. Its slowly improving, judging by the pictures of these ultrabooks, but far too many expensive PC laptops still use sticky note sized touchpads, keyboards that exhibit flex, and rock bottom TN TFT panels: the Samsung Series 9 is the poster child of an expensive laptop that can't get the basics right.
  • MadMinstrel - Saturday, September 3, 2011 - link

    Content creation? Really? If so, then it must be some special limited kind of content creation you're talking about. Like text editing. Laptops are good for text editing. If you connect a mouse you can even do some color correction on photographs. Otherwise, desktop replacements aside, I can't think of any real world production software that would deign to work reasonably well on a ULV processor, no real graphics chip to speak of and a non-ASIO sound chip. Laptops have always been about paperwork and web browsing, not content creation.
  • lukarak - Saturday, September 3, 2011 - link

    Well it's not designed to be your primary machine, that was his point. But if you are showing your client something, there are some last minute changes or clarifications, you can change it on the go, some basic stuff, not make everything from scratch.

    And as such, there isn't much difference if a laptop will chew through something in 20 or 40 seconds. It's not that important.

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