Acer Aspire S5 Ultrabook Targets Macbook Air at CES

Acer's Aspire S5 ultrabook runs Microsoft Windows 7 operating system in a thin, light form factor that boots up quickly and awakes from sleep mode in 1.5 seconds. The machine will launch in Q2.

Acer wants to challenge Apple's Macbook Air with the Aspire S5 ultrabook, a thin, low-weight computer running Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows 7 operating system that boots up fast.

Unveiled Jan. 8 at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the Aspire S5 measures 15 millimeters at its thickets point and has a 13.3-inch LCD display. The device has an onyx black chassis and a magnesium-aluminum alloy cover and palm rest below the chiclet keyboard. The Verge has some pictures of the Aspire S5.

The ultrabook, one of what Forrester Research analysts estimate could be over 50 of its kind introduced at CES this week, is powered by Intel's (NASDAQ:INTC) Core processor and Flash storage.

The device employs Acer's Green Instant On technology for speedy boots and instant resume in 1.5 seconds. This also helps save battery life for the computer, which Acer said will last a few weeks in standby mode.

The new ultrabook is also imbued with Acer Always Connect, which lets users wake up the Aspire S5 from a smartphone, tablet or some other remote computing device and quickly access emails, documents and social networks.

Acer also fitted the Aspire S5 with a MagicFlip I/O port panel below the hinge. Users simply press the MagicFlip key to reveal HDMI, USB 3.0 and 20G bps Thunderbolt input/output ports.

"The ultrabook is much more than just a product segment," said Acer President Jim Wong in a statement. "It's a new trend that will become the mainstream for mobile PCs, and customers will see the unique features gradually extended across Acer's notebook family."

Few analysts quibble with that, though pricing will remain an obstacle for many consumers. While Acer has not priced its Aspire S5, which will roll out in the second quarter this year, ultrabooks tend to run from $700 to $1,200. That's not so budget-friendly for every consumer accustomed to buying $300 netbooks or even $500 Apple iPads in a tight economy.

ISI analyst Brian Marshall, who said the Aspire S5 is targeted at consumers first, said he expects the ultrabook could cost $1,000 to $1,300 versus $1,299 for the 13.3-inch Macbook Air model.

"While details on pricing and specifications/configurations are still light, we believe the Aspire S5's ultra-thin and light form factor make it a solid entry in the ultrabook category, especially if priced between $1,000-$1,300 as some media outlets are suggesting," Marshall wrote in a research note Jan. 9. "We believe Macbook Air will still maintain its market share lead, but new Windows ultrabook models at CES could pose a credible challenge."

The Aspire S5 may have been the biggest parcel from Acer but it wasn't the sole piece of news. The company also announced 14-inch and 15-inch screen ultrabooks. The Aspire Timeline Ultra has 8 hours of battery life, and a 2-spindle design.

The Timeline Ultra is powered by current Intel Core i Series processors, possesses an SSD/HDD storage option, and has HDMI and USB 3.0 ports. The Ultra ultrabooks will be available in the first quarter, with pricing to be revealed later.