We’ve come across many hybrid laptop-tablets in the recent past like the Dell XPS 12, Sony Vaio Duo and Asus Taichi. These slick and highly versatile devices command an exorbitant price, which can get past the six-digit mark depending on the feature set and design. With its latest offering, the Aspire P3, Acer wants to get closer to the masses. Priced under Rs 55,000, it’s one of the very few Ultrabooks that offer the functionality of a tablet. Sounds interesting? Here’s our take on it.
A good-looker but doesn't come across as an Ultrabook
Design and features
Speaking of hybrid laptop-tablets, the first thing that comes to the mind is that how the Aspire P3 transforms into a tablet. You may have expected a detachable design like that of the Asus Transformer Book or some sort of a transformation mechanism like that of the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga or Sony Vaio Duo. We must say that Acer has a made a very smart move with the Aspire P3 to cut down the cost drastically—it’s essentially a tablet housed in a Bluetooth keyboard case. Thus, it’s an Ultrabook with the case and a Windows 8 tablet by itself, sans the case. Now, you may wonder how a tablet housed in a keyboard case can be called an Ultrabook. Well, it is because it meets all the requirements set by Intel to be marketed as one, as simple.
A tablet that turns into an Ultrabook with a Bluetooth keyboard case
The Aspire P3 comprises two components; the tablet and the keyboard case. The P3 comes in two variants. The Aspire P3-171-6408 (the review unit) is powered by the Intel Core i3-3229Y processor and features 4GB of RAM and 60GB of solid state storage. The second variant, which is the P3-171-6820 runs the Intel Core i5-3339Y processor, comes loaded with the same amount of RAM, but offers double the storage space with a 120GB SSD.
Both the Core i3-3229Y and i5-3339Y belong to the “Y” series of ultra-low voltage processors launched by Intel in the first quarter of 2013. A key feature of this relatively new series is extremely low thermal design power (TDP), which is achieved by reducing the clock speed. The Core i3-3229Y is clocked at 1.4GHz and the Core i5-3339Y is clocked at 1.5GHz. The advantage of the latter is its ability to Turbo Boost to 2GHz. Both the processors are dual-core with four logical threads and have a TDP of 13 watts. Despite the meagre amount of cooling required, the Aspire P3 uses active cooling. The top of the device has vents towards the extreme ends through which the fins of the heat sink are visible. The faint whir of the fan is audible if you put your ear to the vents on the top right.
The Aspire P3 doesn't feature a card reader
Weighing in at 790 grams, the P3 is a tad heavy for a 11.6-inch Windows 8 tablet. It’s also quite chunky with a thickness of 18.7mm and appears all the more due to the boxy design. The guts of the tablet are packed in a grey aluminium shell with a fine grainy finish. This lends a premium feel and also helps dissipate heat effectively. The rear of the device sports the Acer logo in chrome and a 5 megapixel camera (without LED flash) is placed at one end of the white strip towards the top. An HD webcam to aid video chat is present on the top centre of the screen bezel. All the necessary buttons and ports are placed on the sides and are accessible even while the tablet is in the keyboard case. A 3.5mm headset jack, power button and volume rocker are placed on the right side and the left side has a micro HDMI port, a USB 3.0 port and a jack for the power adapter. Considering one might want to expand the memory or read memory cards, Acer should have included at least a microSD card reader if not the one that supports multiple card formats. Additional USB 3.0 ports should have also been included as you don’t have any ports left to connect external storage devices, input devices or other peripherals if the only provided port is being used. For most of the time we were using the USB port for the mouse because the keyboard dock is devoid of a touchpad. We had no choice but to disconnect the mouse to free up the USB port to connect a card reader or an external hard drive. Another option is to use a USB hub, but you need to carry it along if you think you’ll need additional ports.
5MP rear camera without flash
As for connectivity you have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth out of which the latter won’t be available if you’re using the keyboard dock. If an Ethernet port is absolutely necessary, you’ll need a USB Ethernet adapter because even the Ethernet port is missing.
The keyboard case adds 600 grams to the tablet's weight
The plastic casing that holds the tablet and the keyboard are of the same grey colour as the tablet to go with the colour theme. The casing and the keyboard are glued to a thick faux leather sheet which has a grainy black exterior. A horizontal ridge on the leatherette cover that runs across the centre is where it folds. You open the keyboard case and you’re greeted by a vibrant 11.6-inch display that automatically wakes up from sleep mode—there’s a hidden magnetic switch at the bottom of the tablet that does the magic. You then angle the tablet so that the base of the casing fits into the horizontal slit above the keyboard, and lo! you have an Ultrabook—yes, we repeat; it is an Ultrabook! Being a Bluetooth device, the keyboard is powered by an internal battery that charges via a micro USB port. The power button on the keyboard turns it off and also activates the pairing mode depending on the long press duration.
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