The glossy 1366 x 768-resolution display is sufficiently bright and actually better than the panels Iâ€™ve seen Acer use in the past on netbooks, but thereâ€™s a graininess to the display and off-axis viewing is still a noticeable issue, with colors fading to black quickly when you sit to the right or left of the screen. Unfortunately, thereâ€™s no matte or higher resolution option like the VAIO Z and the pixel density is obviously worse than the 13-inch Airâ€™s 1440 x 900-resolution display, but the glossiness of the screen isnâ€™t actually all that distracting.
The LCD in the Aspire S3 is better than past netbooks. That says it all. Apple has clearly shown what it takes to compete. A 13.3 inch LCD, a 1366×768 pixel format, and a resolution of 118 ppi don’t cut it. The 13.3-inch MacBook Air packs 1440×900 pixels good for a resolution of 128 ppi. You need lots of pixels, lots of good pixels.
We were underwhelmed by the S3’s low-quality, 13.3-inch 1366 x 768-pixel display, which offers much less screen real estate than competitors such as the ASUS UX31 (1600 x 900) and the MacBook Air 13-inch (1440 x 900). Whether watching a 480p episode of Castle on Hulu or a 720p trailer for The Avengers, we noticed plenty of pixelation and splotchiness in darker areas, and blacks weren’t as true as we’d like. Viewing angles were also pretty poor. Sitting to either side of the notebook resulted in reversed images and colors, so it’ll be tough sharing the screen with friends.
Viewing angles are generally terrible on notebook LCDs with very few exceptions. Bear in mind we tend to look at our notebooks from a fixed position, so viewing angles are important but not as important as on tablets for instance. But we associate terrible viewing angles with terrible LCDs with terrible notebooks, and rightly so.
For what it’s worth, high-def videos looked plenty crisp on that display, and we enjoyed decent viewing angles from the sides once we dimmed the lights. We didn’t have as much luck head-on, though; even when we dipped the display forward slightly, the picture appeared washed out. Not good news when the person sitting in front of you on the plane decides to lean all the way back.
A slightly different experience. This time colors were washed out looking head-on. Yuck. But even with a poor display the S3 will probably look much better than those terrible displays on the plane. Probably.