The Acer Aspire M3 is a slim ultra-portable with a 15.6in screen and a stunning matt black finish. It feels incredibly well built, too. Unusually, the power switch is hidden on the edge of the lower front lip of the laptop, making it a bit of a challenge to find initially. On the plus side, it's hard to hit it by accident.
The M3 has flat, widely spaced keys, a broad and completely flat wrist rest and a large touchpad, which is positioned beneath the space bar. There's more space between the edge of the computer and the keyboard, and this can feel rather odd if you're used to typing with your wrists flat. The keys could afford to be a bit more responsive, too. Indeed, it can be difficult to gauge whether you've struck them hard enough to get a response. However, we were pleased to note that there aren't any oddly positioned extra keys to reduce our typing accuracy and the numeric keypad is tidily tucked away on the right-hand side of the laptop. Even the large off-set touchpad didn't get in the way and its size makes precise pointer control easy. We also liked the buttons, which are integrated with the touch surface.
The M3 has a 1.4GHz Intel Core i3-2367M. It's not particularly powerful, as evidenced by its overall score of 29 in our benchmark tests, but that's good enough for most tasks, including word processing, using the internet and even a bit of image editing. The system has 4GB of RAM and easily handled our resource-intensive habit of working between large numbers of open browser tabs.
The processor has on-chip Intel HD Graphics 3000, which produced a frame rate of 15fps in our Dirt 3 test. You'll have to knock the graphical quality down a bit get a playable frame rate, but it'll run most 3D games at low quality settings. Even though it has decent processor power, the M3 lasted for an incredibly long 9 hours and 11 minutes in our battery life test. If you turn off Wi-Fi and lower the screen brightness it'll keep you going for an entire working day.
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