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Acer Aspire V5 | Review

The Acer Aspire V5 comes in a number of sizes and configurations. I’m test driving the 15-inch model, officially called the 551G variant (like we care).

The Aspire V5 is a huge unit that young people will probably have second thoughts about lugging around. But that’s because this is not the model to be dragging around with you on a daily basis. No, this particular V5 is positioned more as a desktop PC replacement.

And as a desktop replacement, its specs are pretty spiffy: huge 15″ LCD display with 16:9 HD ratio, AMD Quad-Core (yes!) A8-4555M processor with AMD Radeon HD graphics processor, 6GB of DDR3 memory, 750GB of HDD storage, a DVD drive (which tells you that this is not for typical mobile use), and Windows 8 64-bit operating system. Bluetooth, WiFi and a “Crystal Eye” HD webcam round out the basic specs.

Ports: the V5 has three USB ports (one of which is USB 3.0), HDMI out, VGA out, a good old fashioned LAN port, and a memory card slot.

The unit can come in different colors, though availability is questionable. Here we have the silver linings playbook.

So what makes the V5 different? Aside from the moderately impressive specs, it claims to be 10 percent lighter and 30 percent thinner than comparable laptops. I would tend to agree. It is indeed thin enough, though not the thinnest one out there. And it’s light enough, thanks to a sea of plastic that, thankfully, is pretty solidly built.

Out of the box, the first thing you have to do is to snap on the battery.

Whoa, that’s one flimsy, tiny battery pack. Immediately, I worried about this unit’s battery life.

Once you snap the battery into place, note that there is no discernibly easy way to pull it back out. Not that you’d want to, anyway.

Fire up the laptop and you soon realize that any fears about battery life are not warranted. This promises over four hours of battery life, with over three hours of life in actual use. Not the best out there, but not bad. Especially given the huge size of the Acer Aspire V5 and the scrawniness of its battery.

All in all, the form factor is clean, decent, and all in all pleasant. The keyboard is comfortable, there’s lots of palm rest space, and the big screen is very welcome. You could work on the V5 all day and not feel the sense of exhaustion that you’d get from tinier laptops. Again, it is after all a desktop replacement.

And speaking of keyboard, pay closer attention to it. Do you see anything unusual here?

Really full keyboard

That’s right, it has a number pad!

A number pad!

That’s definitely a better use of all that real estate compared to how, say, the old Macbook 17-inch simply squandered it away on a couple of speaker panels. Plus, it further emphasizes the fact that, since the Aspire V5 wants to be your next desktop, it offers you a truly full keyboard experience. Kudos!

But it doesn’t end there. This laptop has one of the biggest touchpads in the market today. It is huge. And it is very comfortable. It’s so huge and comfy that you may not even want to touch a mouse again. The massive touchpad comes in handy because the V5 runs on Windows 8. Swiping and scrolling comes much easier, especially since the V5 doesn’t have a touchscreen. More on that later.

Huge trackpad

Ah, Windows 8. I have mixed feelings about you. Unfortunately Acer can’t exactly do anything about it. Any gripes I may have about Windows 8 is something that’s between me and Microsoft, rather than with Acer.

The tile interface that opens up Windows 8, while pretty, practically begs for a touchscreen. And I gotta admit, there were a couple of times when I found myself swiping at the screen. As if my brain refused to believe that the V5 didn’t provide a touch interface to interact with the eye candy.

Actually, there are V5 versions that do offer touchscreens. But not this particular model that I had. Awww. Fortunately, the huge trackpad was the next best alternative. It was buttery smooth, responsive, and comfortably placed. I am not exaggerating, this is the best trackpad that I’ve ever tried.

You’ll have fun watching movies on this thing. Videos are responsive, plus the audio impresses as well: the V5 comes with Dolby Advanced Audio with Virtual Surround Sound. Whatever that means. All I know is that it is loud, and the two front-firing speakers below the chassis say that it means business. Good design choice, that.

Verdict

If you’re going to use this for games, then unfortunately I’m not a gamer so I wouldn’t quite know what to test on it. But the combination of quad-core processor and Radeon chip promises great possibilities.

And for everything else, the Acer Aspire V5 is a capable, powerful and comfortable (which I believe is the most important) laptop that can easily become your desktop replacement of choice for Windows 8 activities or for playing back your media.

Sorry, no touchscreen on this particular model, but higher priced models will have it, assuming that they’re locally available.

Acer Aspire V5

SRP 30,900

Likes

  • Verrry comfortable keyboard
  • Comes with the best touchpad ever made, ever. I’m almost not exaggerating
  • Nice big screen plus loud audio equals lots of popcorn possibilities

Dislikes

  • Only the higher end models will have a touchscreen
  • The plastic body is tough and well made. But it’s still plastic just the same
  • Windows 8. But that’s not Acer’s fault
Art

Art

Art is a long-time editor for a number of technology publications. He is a Palanca-winning writer (he got lucky) whose day job is to try to be as serious as possible while being a management consultant and lecturer. His favorite noodles: chapchae.

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