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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  • tommyj - Saturday, September 3, 2011 - link

    You can do content creation on these things. Obvious they are not workstations but they are powerful enough to do some light photoshop and lightroom work.

    I've done it for quick jobs for clients and its faster than my old Core 2 Duo photoshop machine. Its not a monster but if you are skilled with the software, it doesn't take long to do basic photo editing. You people are spoilt when it comes to hardware doesn't matter that much anymore unless you are an absolute retard with the software.

    Obviously for engineering software that requires 3D rendering you would use this device. In that situation, you would be handed a Dell/HP workstation by CR Kennedy at no personal cost and not these for obvious reasons beyond specs.
  • tommyj - Saturday, September 3, 2011 - link

    would not*
  • damianrobertjones - Sunday, September 4, 2011 - link

    Ultrabooks are about someone buying a machine not knowing what it can do so they can turn to their friend and say, "I've an ultrabook so I'm special"

    That would be the average joe.

    To the techies it's about performance and that it looks sexy.

    ANything else is simply made up
  • KPOM - Saturday, September 3, 2011 - link

    Actually, as more specifications for Ultrabooks come out, the more it seems clear that the MacBook Air line is actually very competitively priced. Acer, ASUS, Toshiba, etc. are trotting out sub-$1000 models, but when you look closely they have lesser specifications (Core i3, or HDD, lower resolution etc.). The ones with the same chips, SSD, and resolution cost about the same or more.
  • damianrobertjones - Sunday, September 4, 2011 - link

    ...because they know that fools will buy them just like people throw the extra money on the air to simply look 'cool'.

    Come on now... I've heard the excuse before, "I want something light". Yeah ok, you want something cool. (Like the Sony Vaio with the Atom cpu that my managing director wanted who later complained about the speed EVEN THOUGH I did warn him that the Atom sucked.

    If Apple were not seen as being 'cool' do you REALLY think that people would be buying the air with it's price premium?

  • tommyj - Sunday, September 4, 2011 - link

    "If Apple were not seen as being 'cool' do you REALLY think that people would be buying the air with it's price premium?"

    No, when it used the mechanical hard disk. Yes, when it used the solid state drive. The Macbook Air was catapulted into prominence after it replaced its godawful mechanical hard disk to a solid state drive.

    Turns out putting a solid state drive in any computing device, even a netbook, turns it from a slow piece of shit to a fast responsive machine for just about everything. And guess what, consumers want that.

    Marketing isn't just advertising people, if you've ever worked in a real marketing department you would know that. The Sandy Bridge processors and Thunderbolt theoretically solves many of the performance and connectivity problems as well so yes, they are very attractive machines.
  • Penti - Monday, September 5, 2011 - link

    Well the first Air's where just normal ultra-portables with normal LV cpu's and it's normal high price. Now thanks to CULV on Core 2 Duo and other consumer variants following that the machines is now more suitable for consumers and are more in of a consumer price range. The SSD still makes the 13.3" MBAir a $1299-1599 USD machine. Something like Lenovo's U300s starts at $1199.99 with 128GB SSD and ends up to about 1300 with 256GB SSD. The HDD 2008 Macbook Air did start at $1,799. Won't differ much as both now have consumer priced cpu's. If you skip the SSD you do get sub 1000 machines, not many years ago similar machines would have been a good 2000 dollars. It makes ultraportables definitively with reach for consumers (willing to spend 900-1300 dollars).

    That in itself is a lot cooler then $2000-2500 machines just a few could or would buy :)

    They are hardly DTR's though, but MBAir 13 comes close and will be perfectly fine for most buyers as their only PC. Those won't really take advantage of the DP and Thunderbolt, but for high end users that's nice (HDMI limits to 1920x1200 with current gen graphics). For those who will use the thunderbolt display it's a nice solution too. For those who will run pro-hardware through the thunderbolt port it will not really matter as they end up with MBP15 any way. To bad most machines have only HDMI now days. It kinda forces one to buy business machines.
  • cptcolo - Thursday, September 8, 2011 - link

    Completely agree iwod. From a value perspective the current Ultrabook lineup does not compete well with the Macbook Air (especially the $1299 base 13 inch model). This is because:
    - Smaller batteries
    - Low resolution, crappy screens (16:9 too, yuk)
    - Inferior build quality
    And windows users can replace mac OS w/ Windows 7 completely, as shown on CNET's "Windows 7 On The MacBook Air: Don't Go There"
  • MrSpadge - Saturday, September 3, 2011 - link

    .. they could use an eIPS display and a decent keyboard. But I guess that's asking for too much at 1000+$

  • tommyj - Saturday, September 3, 2011 - link

    Yeah that's always bothered me. I know eIPS is not exactly cheap but when I pay $1,000 I expect a somewhat decent TFT panel even if its only TN. Instead PC manufacturers keep playing the downward race to see who can shove the most raw giggahertz and giggabites into plastic frames with rejected TN panels.

    As for the keyboard, you can't really fit the Thinkpad keyboard on something this thin unfortunately. As long as there isn't any flex, the chiclet keyboard is still pretty good after you get used to it.

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