Monday, October 10, 2011

Acer Acer's S3 Ultrabook: How Not To Compete With Macbook Air

The brand new Acer competitor to the Macbook Air is $100 less!  Really?  That's all you can bring to the game, Acer?  I'm sure the specs and everything else is better, right?  Sacrificing margin to compete, no?

Wrong.  According to Electronista, this Acer ultrabook is, again, $100 cheaper than the lowerest priced Macbook Air.  But it's not a fair comparison because this UB, Acer Aspire S3, has a 13" screen.  The 13" Macbook Air starts at $1299, which is $300 more than this UB from Acer.

Go for the Acer, right?  Definitely not. Remember a few months ago when Intel was pushing the ultrabook to compete with the Air?  Well, the PC makers revolted, saying that Intel would need to lower its chip prices in order for them to compete with Apple.  I reckon at the time that Intel was not likely to make enough of a sacrifice to allow the PC makers to compete with Apple.

Hence, the PC guys would need to make their own compromises.  And these compromises in the S3 shows.

Intead of a 1440x900 resolution like the Air, the S3 has a 1366 x 768 resolution.  Instead of a 128 MB SSD, it opted for a 20 GB SSD.  However, it does make up for the smaller SSD with a 320 GB regular hard drive.

Instead of 7 hours of battery life, the S3 will sport 6 hours.  However, Apple and Acer have vastly different battery life standards.  For instance, in my 11" Macbook Air, I can get up to 8-9 hours of battery life if I use it in the way PC makers measure their own battery life.  That alone would blow the doors off this S3's battery life.  So, we are not talking about Apple-to-Apple comparisons here.

Furthermore, the Air has the new Thunderbolt port, better audio, BT 4.0, and runs OS X along with iCloud integration.  and back-led keyboard.  And first impressions of S3 from blogs showed that the compromises Acer is known for showed on the UB as well.  When bloggers are using words like "trade-off" and "plasticky", it's not a good start.

As usual, Acer is leading the way with "good enough" and "hope customers won't notice too much" attitude when it comes to competing with Apple.  Perhaps, if Intel really wants to push the ultrabook as a Macbook Air competitor, maybe it should take a book out of Google's page.

Google has its own line of Android devices, the Nexus phones. that serve as templates for other device makers to follow.  Intel and Microsoft should consider doing the same thing.  

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