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By 17 April 2012 | Categories: news

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Acer has announced its new Aspire M3, part of its Timeline Ultra range, a 15” ultrabook with a few surprises hidden in its 20 mm thick body.
 
The first of these, and certainly uncommon for an ultrabook, is the presence of an optical drive, which has been largely sacrificed by most other ultrabooks on the altar of being thinner and lighter.
 
Equally as welcome on the ultrabook, particularly for those who have portable gaming in mind, is the inclusion of a dedicated graphics card, in this case, Nvidia’s GeForce GT640M solution. Less unexpected is the presence of the latest Intel Core processors, although Acer hasn’t specified whether these are Core i5 or Core i7 variants.
 
Additionally, the 2-spindle device boasts a hard disk drive alongside an integrated solid state drive (SSD), for combining storage of large files of the former with the fast boot up times offered by the latter. According to the company though, users can also select a SSD only configuration if they prefer.
 
Along with a 20mm thickness, the Aspire M3 also offers an integrated optical drive. 
 
Instant availability
 
Other features offered by the Aspire M3 include Acer Green Instant-On, which accounts for a fast resume in 1.5 seconds from sleep mode. This, if proven true, would be considerably faster than another of Acer’s ultrabook’s, the Aspire S3 which required 5 seconds to be ready from sleep.
 
Additionally, the company explained that Acer Instant Connect automatically scans and registers most-visited access points, enabling users to connect to the Internet in 2.5 seconds. This, it asserted, was four times faster than conventional methods.
 
However, in an ultrabook, battery life is really where the rubber meets the road. We have been particularly impressed by battery longevity on other of the company’s Timeline offerings. Apparently, on this front, users can expect more of the same from the M3, as the company claims that the ultrabook can provide eight hours of battery life on a single charge.
 
Finally, the notebook offers up a full size chiclet keyboard, with numeric pad along for the ride. There’s no word yet whether this is backlit or not; in our minds at least, a feature we have come to expect, and make a concerted effort to look for.
 
A smattering of ports can be found on the back of the Aspire M3.
 
To the point
 
On the price front though, the M3 certainly falls into the affordable range, with a RRP of R7999. Earlier this year, when reviewing the Aspire S3, we were left feeling that the company was off to a good start in the ultrabook race, even though it didn’t blow its competition, namely the Asus Zenbook, out of the water.
 
While the M3 would need to land on our review desk to cement this opinion, so far it looks promising. This would be particularly more so if the M3 can surpass the S3 in most if not all performance aspects, while coming in R2000 cheaper than that ultrabook, and at half the price of Asus’ offering.
 
That pricepoint in fact may just give Acer’s ultrabook forays an edge, in a market where price is still of paramount concern.

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