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Tom's Hardware's 2011 Gift Guide: Part 2, Last-Minute Extras

Tom's Hardware's 2011 Gift Guide: Part 2, Last-Minute Extras
By , Anthony Celeste

Welcome to Part 2 of Tom's Hardware's 2011 Holiday Gift Guide. This second installment is geared toward the folks who want to buy components that stand alone as respectable gifts--call them the add-ons to go with the complete machines we built last week.

$899.99
us.acer.com

It wouldn’t be Christmas without a little Grinch thrown in, so here goes...

No doubt, you’ve got the gist of Intel’s Ultrabook effort by now: like a MacBook Air, only different. Officially, today’s Ultrabooks should be less than 0.8” thick , under 3.1 lbs., and deliver five to eight or more hours of runtime. In part, this is possible through the use of smaller screens, no integrated optical drive, SSDs rather than hard drives, and one of Intel’s late-model 17 W Sandy Bridge-based Core i5 or i7 chips with HD Graphics 3000. So far, so good.

A few years ago, we would have called these “ultralight” designs, but since the MacBook Air pretty much blew competing ultralights out of the water, we needed something fresher, cooler...something more like an ultrabook! The result, of course, was a MacBook Air that ran Windows and was sold by top-tier OEMs like Acer, Asus, HP, Lenovo, and Toshiba.

Let’s be fair. Acer has four S3 Ultrabook models, and this one seeks to give you the benefits of a $1299 MacBook Air for $400 less. Apple has a 100 MHz advantage on the Core i5 (1.7 GHz dual-core to Acer’s 1.6 GHz). Both have a 13.3” display, but Apple’s native resolution is 1440 x 900 against Acer’s 1366 x 768. Height and weight are nearly identical. Both use 4 GB of DDR3-1333. We won’t debate Thunderbolt and HDMI or battery runtime here. The biggest difference is that whereas Apple uses a 128 GB SSD, Acer opts for a 20 GB SSD backed by a 320 GB, 5400 RPM hard drive. The Grinch’s heart may have been two sizes too small, but so is Acer’s SSD. We’d fill that little thing up by New Year’s for sure.

And the one speck of NAND
Acer left in the house
Was a crumb that was even too small for a mouse

Still, if you don’t mind the storage situation and you’re not married to Mac OS, Acer’s S3 has a build quality that’s roast-beast-alicious, and you get to pocket four bills toward paying off that January Visa bill. We would declare that plenty fair...almost.

On Black Friday, this author braved the 6:00 AM cold outside of Office Depot and bought himself a beater of a laptop—a Toshiba Satellite with 2.4 GHz Sandy Bridge Core i3-2330M, 6 GB of DDR3, 15.6” display, 640 GB hard drive, and a DVD-Supermulti optical drive. It weighs 5.3 lbs. and has a cheap plastic feel rather than luscious aluminum. But the final cost was $399. So if we’re going to play the price versus value game, let’s play it to the finish.

Should you pay $500 to give up two pounds, two screen inches, 2 GB of memory, and step into a Core i5 over an i3? Maybe. If you’re a stylish little Who, you may not value all those twos. But if you’re a penny-pinching Grinch oh so grinch-ish-ly humming, you may already know that price cuts are a-coming. Acer president Jim Wong has already stated that he believes Ultrabooks will drop to $500 by 2013. Think of the sound of those savings in your stocking! Now, that’s a noise that we simply must hear.

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Top Comments
  • 20 Hide
    manu 11 , December 16, 2011 3:04 AM
    i am loving these articles!
  • 16 Hide
    JonnyDough , December 16, 2011 8:58 AM
    richboyliangomg more of those same hot girls!!!as usual, the one with the monitor is the best because she resembles mariah carey.blonde one is ok, redhead is too old.


    You must be in your teens. Not all readers here are kids you know...
  • 10 Hide
    JonnyDough , December 16, 2011 8:59 AM
    For future reference, we adults call them "women", not girls. ;) 
Other Comments
  • 20 Hide
    manu 11 , December 16, 2011 3:04 AM
    i am loving these articles!
  • 3 Hide
    joytech22 , December 16, 2011 3:28 AM
    The ZBox is the most promising item to me.
    Why? Because I can mount it on the back of the TV in the lounge for the family and stream my media files to it from my home server.

    I can then throw in an external BD drive and boom, fully capable home entertainment system, which is even capable of light gaming.

    Of course.. I'd reserve my gaming for my gaming rig! ;)  The Zbox would be for more family oriented games in the lounge.
  • -1 Hide
    richboyliang , December 16, 2011 4:05 AM
    omg more of those same hot girls!!!

    as usual, the one with the monitor is the best because she resembles mariah carey.

    blonde one is ok, redhead is too old.
  • 1 Hide
    richboyliang , December 16, 2011 4:14 AM
    the suggestive poses combined with the suspicious "xXx" on the Thecus network storage box....
  • -2 Hide
    Judguh , December 16, 2011 4:50 AM
    You can't tell me there's more.... reasonably priced items for the holidays here. :| ... unless you're getting a share of that dough for these ladies :p 
  • 0 Hide
    a4mula , December 16, 2011 5:14 AM
    Why recommend the u2410 when the u2412M can be had for half the price and has the same exact specs along with LED backlighting. The only loss is going from 100% sRGB to 98% sRGB and that's only important to a tiny fraction of users. The other advantage of the u2412M is that it doesn't suffer from pink tint that has plagued the u2410.
  • 0 Hide
    pharoahhalfdead , December 16, 2011 6:49 AM
    This was an article about electronics? I must have missed something. That's what I get for skipping all the words. Haha
  • 7 Hide
    kartu , December 16, 2011 7:57 AM
    Shameless sexism, eh?
    But I enjoy it too...
  • 16 Hide
    JonnyDough , December 16, 2011 8:58 AM
    richboyliangomg more of those same hot girls!!!as usual, the one with the monitor is the best because she resembles mariah carey.blonde one is ok, redhead is too old.


    You must be in your teens. Not all readers here are kids you know...
  • 10 Hide
    JonnyDough , December 16, 2011 8:59 AM
    For future reference, we adults call them "women", not girls. ;) 
  • 5 Hide
    SevWarfare , December 16, 2011 2:27 PM
    Didn't read a friggin' word.
  • -2 Hide
    mcd023 , December 16, 2011 2:44 PM
    man I really want that Dell monitor. 110% color gamut!!! (ok, really only 100% due to the signal, but hey, it can do it!).
  • 1 Hide
    Teeroy32 , December 16, 2011 3:36 PM
    What was this article about, I was only interested in the pictures, what the red heads too old, that poster must be 15 years old, all three of these lovely women are gorgeous, they should be in the "Girls of Geek" calender along with Nixie Pixel
  • -1 Hide
    ChromeTusk , December 16, 2011 4:40 PM
    Regarding the RC8, my only complaint is how easy it is to lose flash drives.
    Falcon's Icon2 reminds me of Silverstone's Raven series with much need improvements.
    The N5200XXX sound like a great addition (and I like the model's poses too :p )
  • 0 Hide
    rubix_1011 , December 16, 2011 4:58 PM
    The elves just don't stack up to the original Tom's Holiday elf...what's her name...Sarah? She was far and away the best.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , December 16, 2011 6:14 PM
    La rubia me volvió loco, 10/10 recommended buy
  • 6 Hide
    jsc , December 17, 2011 2:25 AM
    JonnyDoughYou must be in your teens. Not all readers here are kids you know...

    No. Some of us like women.
  • -2 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , December 17, 2011 3:07 AM
    second picture on Thecus N5200XXX is the best picture.
    saving to my PC....
  • -5 Hide
    Reynod , December 17, 2011 4:02 AM
    I want more articles like this one.

    In fact I demand that you do more articles like this one ... please?

    Can you please post a few more pictures of the Supertalent USB drive ... move the drive down a bit and zoom in ... its a bit fuzzy from here.


    If other users agree please rate my post up so the reviewers can guage interest in these products !!!


    :) 

  • 5 Hide
    RealityClash , December 17, 2011 6:35 AM
    The ginger one scares me...
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