Last year, Acer’s Aspire S7 surprised us by bringing a whole new level of design finesse to the company’s laptop line, with solid build quality and an eye-catching anodized aluminum chassis. This year, the company is iterating on its 13.3-inch ultrabook design in a couple of ways with an updated Aspire S7 and the all-new Aspire S3 — a machine with a similar design but with some more powerful internals for the performance conscious. And if desktops are more your thing, Acer is also announcing the Z3 desktop, a minor bump from last year's identically named all-in-one.
This year’s S7 endeavors to fix two of our biggest problems with last year’s model: the memory and the battery. 8GB of RAM is now standard on the S7, whereas last year’s model maxed out at a scant 4GB. But our biggest complaint was the disappointing battery, which we're happy to see has been bumped from 4,680mAh to 6,280mAh — a 34 percent increase that, coupled with the new fourth-generation Intel CPU, should do a lot to improve on the substandard stamina of the original S7. That increase comes with only a marginal increase in thickness (from 0.47 to 0.51 inches) and essentially zero increase in weight — the machine now weighs in at 2.87 pounds, versus last year’s 2.86. Otherwise, things are practically the same: a 1920 x 1080 capacitive touchscreen, two USB 3.0 ports, a 128GB SSD, and integrated graphics, all for the same $1,399. An optional high-res 2560 x 1440 panel will cost extra, although Acer hasn't yet announced pricing breakdowns for its various configurations.
Just over a third thicker than its cousin, and just over 25 percent heavier
The other big laptop announcement is the Aspire S3, which might have a familiar name, but we assure you is a completely new machine. It couples the S7’s novel touchscreen design (the 180-degree hinge allows the screen to be laid flat on a table) with a discrete graphics card — Nvidia’s new GeForce GT735M. It also has a 1TB HDD instead of the same SSD available in the S7, offering eight times the storage in a package that’s 0.7 inches thick — just over a third thicker than its cousin, and just over 25 percent heavier at 3.63 pounds. Unfortunately, Acer hasn’t yet disclosed that most important metric for comparison — price.
Last but not least, the company is announcing a revamped version of its Z3 all-in-one. Component-wise, it has Harman Kardon speakers (apparently a first for Acer desktops), two USB 3.0 ports, and an adjustable webcam. On the design front, its all-black has a large rectangular cut-out that doesn't seem to do much aside from show off the rear stand. A 23-inch 10-point capactive touchscreen enables all the swiping and tapping you’d expect from a Windows 8 machine, and the 1080p IPS LCD panel offers the same resolution as last year’s model. Acer says the new Z3 will be available this month.
The company isn’t saying what CPUs are inside the S3 or Z3, although the language ("latest generation") implies that they will have Haswell chips. Availability for the laptops hasn’t been announced either (and neither has pricing for the S3 or Z3), but we’ll try to get some more information from reps on the floor this week at Computex.
Update: Be sure to check out our hands-on post for impressions from the show floor.