The Acer Aspire S3 Ultrabook

Acer Aspire S3

I stumbled upon the Acer Aspire S3 at Netcom at the Mall and it being the first Ultrabook in Brunei, I just had to take a look and play around with it.

It is a 13″ ultrabook which a form factor similar to the 13″ Macbook Air meaning it is thin and light but without an inbuilt DVD drive. Ports are similar to the Air with two USB 2.0 ports, one full HDMI port, SD card reader and a 3.5mm headset jack.

Based on reviews (LaptopMag, The Verge, Engadget) I knew that a few things to look out for were the keyboard, cursor keys as well as the touchpad. I found the keyboard to be fine but the touchpad was hard to press. It has no physical buttons but pressing the lower left or lower right sections of the pad acted as left and right mouse clicks. It can be configured to “click on tap” as a usable workaround although this still isn’t ideal for drag and drop actions. The cursor keys are indeed the smallest I’ve seen: 3 cursor keys side by side is of the same length as a single Shift key. This is surely too small for typical use.

The quick resume worked as advertised, with the laptop being on by the time the screen was at a viewable angle. The base (i.e. cheaper) model comes with a hybrid drive which combines a solid state drive with a conventional hard disk drive to try give the best of both worlds: SSD for faster disk access (faster boot up, stand by, resume times) and the typical HDD gives you space to store all your files as SSDs are expensive and have less capacity.

All in all I liked form factor of the device but was initially put off by the price of B$1778 which I was told as the based model price. However after the recording I found out that the price of B$1778 was for the higher specification model, not the base model. According to Concepts’ pricing the base model is B$1188 which is much less than the B$1728 or B$1328 for a 13″ or 11″ MacBook Air thus it may be a good deal for those who want a thin and light but capable but with a large enough screen for viewing your content. Do have a look at the device and take into account that this is a first generation device and that Acer competes more on price than actual quality.

The Acer Aspire S3 spotted at Netcom in The Mall for B$1778 (mp3)


  • 13.3″ display (Resolution: 1366 x 768)
  • 1.6 GHz Core i5 / 1.7GHz Core i7
  • 4 GB RAM
  • 300GB HDD with 20GB SSD / 240GB SSD
  • Webcam (Resolution: 1280 x 1048)
  • Connectivity: 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0
  • 3.5mm headset jack
  • Ports: 2-in-1 card reader (SD, MMC), 2 x USB 2.0 ports, 1 x HDMI

iOS5 has been released for your iDevice!


So last week iOS5 has been released with all the new goodness that it brings: notifications, iCloud and general usage tweaks to make it all a better experience. We did cover iOS5 in Corner Geeks Episode 5 Part 2 – iOS5 and Episode 5 Part 3 – iCloud.

You will need to update iTunes first before you can update your iDevice. Ensure you authorize your computer, if not you will not be able to restore you apps and media (if you backed up and restore contacts and messages should be restored). Also remember that there is always a risk when updating your firmware.

Conventional Method:

  1. Connect iDevice to computer
  2. Authorize the computer
  3. Sync your device
  4. Press the update button to download and update to iOS5

Direct IPSW Download Method:
You can also do a direct download of firmware updates (especially useful if you have multiple iOS devices of the same version) to save download times.

  1. Download the appropriate ipsw file
  2. Connect iDevice to computer
  3. Authorize the computer
  4. Sync and Backup your device in iTunes
  5. Shift + Click Restore button (or Command + Click on OS X)
  6. Select the approriate ipsw for your device
  7. Once restored to iOS5 you can restore for the last backup (to restore data) and sync to restore your apps and media

MD5 hashes
The follow are the MD5 hashes of the firmware files that I got from the downloads. All have been verified with other online sources except for iPod Touch 3G

  • iPhone4: iPhone3,1_5.0_9A334_Restore.ipsw
  • iPad2 WiFi: iPad2,1_5.0_9A334_Restore.ipsw
  • iPad2 WiFi+3G: iPad2,2_5.0_9A334_Restore.ipsw
  • iPad Wifi: iPad1,1_5.0_9A334_Restore.ipsw
  • iPhone 3GS: iPhone2,1_5.0_9A334_Restore.ipsw
  • iPod Touch 4G: iPod4,1_5.0_9A334_Restore.ipsw
  • iPod Touch 3G: iPod3,1_5.0_9A334_Restore.ipsw

To get the full iCloud integration/features there is an OS X Lion update and a Windows iCloud control panel (for Vista or later). Sadly Photo Stream is only available for iPhoto ’11 or later or Aperture 3.2 or later in OS X while in Windows you need Outlook 2007 or later for mail, tasks and contacts iCloud integration.

Overall this is a great update for notifications, wireless syncing and iCloud. While they did copy Android’s notifications, Apple also added functionality by being able to have notifications on the lock screen which can be acted upon directly by swiping the notification.
iCloud, wireless syncing and future incremental upgrades (instead of downloading 700MB+ update files) should bring an overall better experience to iOS devices and now let’s see how Android responds with Ice Cream Sandwich.

Download link: iOS5 has been released for your iDevice!

Asus Ultrabook Announcement

Last week ASUS revealed their ultrabook pricing starting at US$999 (11.6″ UX21) and US$1099 (13.3″ UX31). Branded as ‘Zenbooks‘, their specifications match or beat the MacBook Air. Hoping that CF King brings them in at a good price

Brief Specifications (Specifications from ASUS)

  • UX21
    • 11.6″ screen. Resolution: 1366×768
    • 5+ hours battery life
    • 128GB SSD
    • US$999: Core i5
    • US$1199: Core i7
  • UX31
    • 13.3″ screen. Resolution: 1600×900
    • 7+ hours battery life
    • SD card reader
    • US$1099: Core i5, 128GB SSD
    • US$1349: Core i5, 256GB SSD
    • US$1449: Core i7, 256GB SSD
  • 4GB RAM
  • 2 second resume
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Ports: 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.0, microHDMI, microVGA

Other coverage from Engadget, This is My Next, Ubergizmo (Ubergizmo states that the devices come with with USB to ethernet and miniVGA to VGA adapter).

Asus Ultrabook Announcement: UX21/UX31 (starting at US$999/$1099) (mp3)

Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman available in Brunei for B$350 at Incomm and QQeStore

Seems like a great budget Android phone with a slightly larger screen than the Xperia Mini pro but without a keyboard to make it more svelte. Seems to share all the same common good specifications for a budget phone but a slightly larger screen and slightly cheaper at B$350.

Quick Specifications

  • Android 2.3
  • 320 x 480 pixels, 3.2″ capacitive screen
  • 1GHz Processor
  • 512MB RAM
  • 320MB for applications
  • 5 megapixel camera w/ 720p video
  • Front facing VGA camera
  • xLOUDâ„¢ loudness enhancement makes it possible to listen loud without distortion.
  • Full specifications / details at Sony Ericsson / GSM Arena
    Buy at Incomm or QQeStore

    Introducing the Byte of the Day

    Byte of the Day - Podcast cover/album art

    Download link: Introducing the byte of the day (mp3)

    We are adding another show to the podcast line up to give quicker technology news updates and just provide a small snippet of information. We are gearing this more for current news items and events by summarizing them in under 5 minutes.

    Audioboo is being used as the backend as it allows quick mobile uploads from any device supported. Due to that, it will take some time to integrate it properly with the website so the best way to follow is just to subscribe to the Byte of the Day feed or follow us on Twitter where it should auto tweet the podcast.

    P.S. I know that the date says 19th September which was the day I recorded the introductory episode which was needed for the iTunes feed. Also it seems that Audioboo auto-tweeted the episode that day but am only officially launching it now (i.e. some episodes to come very soon) =)