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Lev Plimak
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Acer Aspire S3-391 13.3-inch Laptop  - Aluminium (Intel Core i3 2377 1.5GHz, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD, LAN, WLAN, BT, Webcam, Integrated Graphics, Windows 8)
Acer Aspire S3-391 13.3-inch Laptop - Aluminium (Intel Core i3 2377 1.5GHz, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD, LAN, WLAN, BT, Webcam, Integrated Graphics, Windows 8)

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Value for money, 4 Jun. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this one for the only reason that my immortal Toshiba Tecra M1 was getting too heavy for me (age problems). The Toshiba has 1 Gb of memory and a 1400x1050 screen, weighs 2.6 kg and runs WXP Pro. This is my benchmark for the Acer.

Hardware:
The Acer is much lighter and noticeably faster -- 4Gb and an SSD make a difference. The HDMI output looks good on a TV. (My big plasma TV is out of order, so I cannot say for sure.) Caution: running the HDMI output at 1080p drains the battery pretty fast. Two USBs is not enough, but luckily I have a hub and a pair of USB-to-eSATA adapters (all my external devices are eSATA). The touch pad is over-sensitive; it takes a lot of discipline to operate it. At home I use the laptop with an external keyboard and mouse. Anyway, all this is survivable.

Software:
The bloatware that comes with the laptop is mostly rubbish. Of all that stuff I use only weather. I downloaded and installed the usual bunch: Skype, Chrome, Thunderbird, Norton Internet Security, PuTTY, TightVNC and FDM. All these applications were accepted by W8.

Software-wise, I got two problems:
1. Norton Ghost 12 runs only as a Recovery Point Browser. Ok for copying stuff from old backups, but no new backups. They say on the Net that NG15 works, but only through cold boot. The new Norton backup thing (forgot its name, check for yourself) is way too expensive. Anyway, this is not a big deal: there are tons of ways to run backups.
2. The real problem is with my Epson 5800L printer. There is no driver for W8, nor for W7. All my attempts to somehow deceive W8 failed. I still can use the printer with the Toshiba, but it's awkward and annoying. Let's hope some hacker will come up with a solution.

In the meantime, I downloaded and installed WMware Player and Bullzip pdf printer (both are free). Under WMP, I created a WXP virtual machine connected to the printer. Communication between W8 and WXP is arranged via a USB stick (limitations of free WMware -- no access to the disk). The stick shares a USB hub with the printer, so either both are connected or both not. Printing is done in three steps: 1. under W8, print to pdf (through the pdf printer or a "Save to PDF" option in a program), 2. fire up the virtual machine, open the pdf file and print it, 3. suspend the virtual machine. If you do not have a WXP to spare, W2K or any flavour of Linux should do.

Obviously, WMware Player may be used to create other virtual machines. I am going to have one with Ubuntu.

Now comes The Windows 8 Trauma First Aid Kit. First impression: W8 is a meddling idiot of a clown. It entertains you when you simply want to do some work. It took me about a week to fully tame it. Now I even like it. The key points:

There are two views, the traditional desktop view and the start view. They are alternated pressing the Windows button. In WXP, this button opens and closes the start menu. With W8 it changes views. If you are familiar with Linux, it is like running two window managers in parallel. Unlike Linux, in W8 there is quite a bit of communication between the views.

The start view may be thought of as an elaborate start menu. It has one great feature: if you start typing a name of an application you are after, W8 immediately gives you a list of matching names (they say it was already in W7, but I never used that one). Depending on the application you start, it opens either full screen in start view, or in desktop view. Completely unintuitive is closing applications in start view: move pointer to the top, grab the window and pull it down till the window becomes small. (They say it is in the manual, but I never read them. SOFTWARE MUST BE INTUITIVE, OTHERWISE IT'S JUNK.)

Desktop view is more or less what you are accustomed to. Given the screen dimensions, it makes sense to put the taskbar on the left. There is no more difference between the taskbar and quick launch: taskbar IS quick launch. Makes sense to me. Otherwise it's what you expect. Download the applications you like, pin them to the taskbar, and off you go. Enjoy.

All in all, I got what I expected. One star is lost to the over-sensitive touch pad. Apart from that, I am happy with the Acer.


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