Update: We've since had another chance to play with the S5. Check out our second look for brighter, clearer photos and a walk-through video demonstrating the laptop's motorized, drop-down door cover.
Acer Aspire S5 hands-on
Even for a hands-on, this is going to be brief, owing to the fact that the demo area at Acer's press conference is swarmed with photographers and journalists. (Nothing like the world's thinnest Ultrabook to set off a shoving match!) In any case, a few minutes was enough for us to suspect that while the S5 improves on a few of the S3's shortcomings, it might be giving us an encore of some of its flaws.
Starting with the design, this has the same lovely brushed metal lid as its older brother, except this time the interior feels just as premium as what's on the outside. You won't find any plastic here, save for the keys: the bottom side and palm rest feel as rock-solid and throughout it seems fairly immune to fingerprints (and nothing like a bunch of pawing bloggers to put that to the test!). When yours truly wrested control of the S5 and held it in one hand, there wasn't a hint of bend or flex, so we have high hopes for overall build quality. It's also impossible not to notice that Acer's whittled down the chassis -- something that should be obvious when you pick it up for the first time, or even look at photos of it.
Now here's where Acer hasn't learned from its previous follies. The keys have the same scratchy feel as what you'll find on the S3 or even the new mid-range Timeline Ultra laptops. More importantly, though, they're shallow. There's very little travel here -- so little that you might feel your hands tense up slightly as you concentrate on hitting buttons hard enough so that your presses register. We also noticed that a handful of major keys remain woefully undersized (a common problem on 13-inch Ultrabooks), though the Enter key is amply sized.
So there you have it. That's about all we can say right now in good conscience, since our time with the S5 was so limited. As always, we'll reserve judgment until we can get one in to review, but for now we feel comfortable saying that this guys feels awfully... familiar.
Terrence O'Brien contributed to this post.