Acer S3-391 £400 Ultrabook review
These laptops are well worth looking at they pack 4gig of RAM and an i5 processor into a really nice case for £400 or less.
The hardware is up to the job of school life, the lid is a nice cold steel which protects the very thin screen the rest is typical metalized plastic. Keys are chclet but can still be pulled off, there is a standard scissor mechanism underneath which looks pretty standard. I found replacement keyboards for £20 on the net.
These machines come with 500gig hard drive and a 20gig SSD both of which are up-gradable. The 20gig is used to boost performance. I wish I could find an i5 model with a 120 gig SSD but you have to go to the i7 model which is outside our budget.
Battery life isn't spectacular but it will run for 3 hours doing what ever you throw at it. I think we will be able to use these in our school for 5 out of 6 lessons per day. The battery is easily replaceable and run at less than £40 on ebay. Networking wise there is no RJ45 socket so a USB RJ45 PXE concoction may be called for which I've not had time to try. Reviews on the WEB have said the WIFI is not up to much but I found no problem with it, the module is a standard mini PCIE jobbie.
Windows 7 drivers are available although only for the 64 bit version of the OS. I'm planning to use Windows 8 with the free classic shell to lock out the wacky start screen (for now at least). Windows 8 on this laptop is giving us a 10 second boot time and pupil logon of 15 seconds. I may have to find shorter user names for pupils as this will soon be the slowest part of getting pupils up and running!!
I was surprised how tough this small and cheap laptop was. I know cheaper laptops are around and that many school will have to stick with them but we are starting to pull all our laptops into a central store so weight is important.
RAM not upgrade