Acer Aspire S13: Premium ultrabook craftsmanship for an affordable price
Vinu Varughese Oommen
Back in the days of netbooks, I used to own an Acer Aspire One that was not only portable and stylish in design, but the price used to be one of the main selling points of the device. The world moved on towards expensive and slim ultrabooks which has an impressive thickness and better productive features. The only issue was that there were no design models offered by any brand that came with an affordable price tag for the common crowd. Up until when the Acer Aspire S13 got launched recently. Let’s take a look at what the new device has to offer. We thank Acer Middle East for graciously lending us this beautiful piece of computing machine.
An important factor that distinguishes the ultrabook from the rest, Acer has taken the design aspects of the Aspire S13 straight from the blueprints of the performance-based Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro. The steel hinges and the smooth-meshed lid looks similar to that of its bigger counterpart. It’s rare to see an ultrabook that holds a sporty, gamer-centric design, like the mini-version of the Nitro (No inbuilt dedicated gaming GPU on board, sorry). There is also an “Aspire S13” insignia on the steel hinge that’s visible when the lid is closed or open. That said, there is a bit of quality issue on the upper lid portion of the device. The lid actually splits open slightly when you try to open the device. We aren’t sure how Acer missed this out.
The keyboard is personally one of the best I’ve used in an ultrabook as compared to other models. Usually, you take time to get used to the new keyboard size and layout. But in the case of the Acer Aspire S13, the keyboard travel is amazing, and I got used to it in a matter of minutes without the need to learn and adjust my fingers. The keys are also pleasant to tap on with smooth feedback. The trackpad features a smooth surface with some sort of glittered effect. Accompanying the keyboard and trackpad is a palm rest that’s covered with a beautiful brushed metal finish. And hey, the keys are backlit! There is a small issue though for road warriors. Acer opted to place the power button on the DEL key area, and the DEL key next to it. I had accidentally turned off the device many times while pressing the power button, which I thought it to be the DEL button. This can take some time in getting used to the new MacBook-like power button positioning. Another issue is that the upper portion of the keyboard gets quite hot while under heavy system load.
We are glad that the Acer Aspire S13 features a full sized HDMI port, a full-sized SD card reader, power and battery indicators, and a bunch of USB 3.0 ports, including a Type-C port. Usually, in the name of thickness, laptop makers switch to the mini versions of HDMI and SD readers. There are some habits that never change. I’m surprised that Acer still uses a cap for the SD Card reader on the Acer Aspire S13 which looks exactly the same as my 5-year old Acer netbook. Sure, it’s good to have a cap to protect the reader internals, provided you don’t actually lose it. And it gets annoying to remove them or insert them back when you want to transfer data quickly from an SD card. Despite the implementation of dual-exhaust vents, the laptop heats up underneath the laptop.
Personally, I’m not a favor of ultrabooks that has vents even on the bottom. This makes it hard for users to use the device on lap. Additionally, it appeared in our test model that whenever the system is set to performance mode, the fans start to spin faster and gets noisy. To make things worse, the speed of the fans goes fast and slow constantly which was disturbing during meetings. The only way to cope with it was to set the battery mode to balanced or low power. On a personal note, I had faced this kind of issue with my old Acer netbook back in the days, and I was disappointed that the issue still exists. We can definitely vouch for ultrabooks that don’t cause such noisy issues. One of the best selling points of the Acer Aspire S13 is the 13.3-inch IPS with Full HD resolution. The panel is matte which helps in canceling out the reflection of the surrounding lights. The display is simply beautiful and amazing with great whites, and viewing angles are good with solid colors.
Moving on towards the internal specifications, the Acer Aspire S13 that we got for review features the Intel dual-core i7-6500U processor, joined with 8GB DDR3 RAM, and a fast 512GB SSD with Windows 10 Home installed. The performance of the model we had is fast, thanks to the large RAM pool, a snappy processor, and the SSD (even when on low power mode). Interestingly, there is no black color version of the same configuration for the UAE market. You can get a black color in the UAE, provided that the RAM is only 4GB with an i5 processor and 256GB SSD.
Thin and light ultrabooks have become a trend for those who want to do their productive work on the go without sacrificing in speed and longevity. But not everyone will be able to afford such devices which cost them an arm and a leg. Acer has been in the ultrabook market competition for some time now, and has realized that there is a need of a new class of thin and light ultrabooks that offer the speed and premium features of an expensive model for a cheaper price. That’s where the Acer Aspire S13 comes to play. Apart from some quality builds and heat management issues, the Acer Aspire S13 is very impressive for an ultrabook that comes with a starting price of approx. AED 3699. We strongly recommend this product to anyone looking to buy a thin and light notebook for a good price.