GADGET WATCH: Acer Aspire A5

There are so many laptops on the market now it’s becoming almost impossible to choose which is best. In the ultrabook market alone, there are a slew of choices to wade through.

Acer has been powering through with its laptop range lately, but can the Aspire A5 stand up to the rest of the competition in such a crowded market? Let’s take a look.

Hardware and Features

The Acer A5 comes with a 640GB hard drive, and is powered by an Intel i3-380M dual-core processor at 2.53Ghz, while higher end models contain a Core i7. It contains 4GB of RAM, although different models may contain different specification up to 8GB.

Graphics-wise, the laptop is powered by a GeForce GT 250M with 1GB of memory. Connections include gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi, an optical drive, HDMI and a webcam, along with USB 2.0 connectivity.

This also claims to be one of the thinnest laptops in the world, coming in at just 15mm.

What’s the consensus?

The Aspire has plenty of things going for it, and its slim build is perhaps one of the most important. Over at TechRadar, the publication notes the aluminium case showcases the 1.2kg device, which is just 15mm thick – that’s thinner than the MacBook Air.

Over at CNET, the website noted the full keyboard and number pad stretch from edge to edge, which is fine, although it said the touch pad is a throwback design compared to some of the larger versions.

And although it said the keys are well-spaced, “the design still irks us compared with the raised keys on most other keyboards”.  Engadget also said the keyboard itself is cramped and flat, and that the arrangement can get crowded.

But, of course, it’s all about what’s underneath. TechRadar said it could put the device through a rigorous amount of use – noting it scored the highest marks ever on processing benchmarks.

“You can multitask demanding applications, and there’s no problem with photo and video editing on the move with this much grunt from the processor.”

Engadget also had something to say about the display, noting that a high-resolution screen would have been welcome. Instead, the device merely has a 1,366×768 finish.

“Everything about this display is common, from the standard resolution, to the reflective finish, to the width of the bezels. It would’ve been fine on an $800 system, but given that you can find lovely, higher-res screens on the MacBook Air, HP Envy Spectre 14, Samsung Series 9 and the entire ASUS Zenbook Prime family, we don’t understand why Acer cut corners here.”

It also criticised the use of a flip panel to reach connection ports, including USB, and said there were many instances in which the laptop became quite hot, resulting in loud fan noise.

“To be fair, once the ports are fully exposed, it shouldn’t have much bearing on your ergonomic experience and obviously, we’d all rather our machines not overheat. Still, as brief as this interruption is, it can be distracting to feel your computer rise beneath your fingers while you’re trying to work.”

Battery life, however, is where it counts – and unfortunately the A5 falls down here too. Both PCWorld and Engadget noted battery life was worse than expected, with the latter only reaching 4.35 hours.

Who’s it for?

The Acer Aspire A5 is a solid laptop with sturdy construction, but for the price there are a few downsides you can avoid if you buy elsewhere, including the low battery life and the annoying panel at the back of the device that conceals all the ports.

It certainly earns marks for being thin, but if you’re spending upwards of $1,000 you’re better off looking elsewhere.


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