The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
This week I purchased a new laptop computer: an Acer Aspire S3 Ultrabook. This is a very thin Windows computer at 0.7 inches thick. It weighs just three pounds. The tiny system sells for $899 although many retailers will discount that price a bit. I thought I might write about my experiences with it so far.
Laptops always keep getting smaller and lighter. A few years ago, netbooks became popular, and I purchased one. I soon found that I didn't like the undersized keyboard, and my aging eyes had difficulties reading the 9-inch screen, especially when the room lighting was not perfect. Since I couldn't type on it very well, I soon stopped using the netbook computer.
Apple then changed the name of the game by introducing the MacBook Air. Weighing only two-and-a-half pounds, the MacBook Air is as lightweight as a netbook, and yet it has a full-sized keyboard. It also has a choice of either an 11-inch or 13-inch screen, much bigger than the screens of the so-called netbooks. The light weight is achieved by making a very thin laptop: only two-thirds of an inch thick. The thin laptop easily slips into most any book bag or briefcase. The first time I took it out of my backpack for a security inspection at the airport, the TSA agent exclaimed, "That's a computer?" Best of all, the MacBook Air runs Apple's OS X operating system.
The MacBook Air is a full powered and full-featured laptop computer. It runs all the same software as most any other Macintosh system, including all of today's genealogy software written for the Mac. With the proper additional software installed, it can also run Windows, Linux, UNIX, or any of several other operating systems. It can even run multiple operating systems simultaneously.
The downside is price: the MacBook Air sells for $999 to $1,599, depending upon the options selected. That's much more expensive than the typical netbook computer that runs Windows.
Now Acer has started to compete against Apple's lightweight powerhouse. The new Acer Aspire S3 Ultrabook is about the same size as the MacBook Air; it is only a few ounces heavier, and it runs Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit). It is also a full powered and full-featured laptop computer. It runs all the same software as most any other Windows system, including all of today's genealogy software written for Windows. With the proper additional software installed, it can also run Linux, UNIX, or any of several other operating systems, but not Macintosh. It can even run multiple operating systems simultaneously.
A new term has been invented to describe these ultra thin but otherwise normal-sized laptop computers: ultrabooks.
Now that I have both the MacBook Air and the Acer Aspire S3 Ultrabook, I cannot help but compare the two. In fact, the two of them are almost the same size and have identical processors (Intel i5), similar processor speeds, the same amount of memory (4 gigabytes), and would otherwise seem to be similar. On paper, the only major difference is that one runs Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) while the other uses Macintosh OS X operating system, also 64-bit. However, after a few hours of usage, I found the differences are much greater than what a simple reading of specifications would indicate.
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