I cringe every time I see a laptop with a 1,366 x 768-pixel display.
There are exceptions, of course. This screen resolution is acceptable if the display is 11.6 inches or smaller. But when a 15-inch (the screen actually measures 15.6 inches) laptop such as the Acer Aspire E5-573G offers the same mediocre screen resolution, I get all riled up.
Now, I will admit that I am picky when it comes to the screens on my computing devices. But I doubt I am the only one. Many of us probably carry phones or tablets with better screens than the one on this Acer laptop. Once you are used to sharp fonts and text on a high-resolution screen, it is difficult to adapt to a lower resolution.
The Acer's display does not use in-plane switching technology. As a result, colours look distorted when you are not directly in front of the screen. Viewing angles are decent, though.
But you get what you pay for, and the Acer is about as cheap as it gets. This 15-inch laptop costs $1,098.
The Acer's display does not use in-plane switching technology. As a result, colours look distorted when you are not directly in front of the screen. Viewing angles are decent, though. But you get what you pay for, and the Acer is about as cheap as it gets.
PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-5500U (2.4GHz)
GRAPHICS: Nvidia GeForce 920M 2GB DDR3
SCREEN SIZE: 15.6 inches, 1,366 x 768 pixels
CONNECTIVITY: 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, VGA, HDMI, Ethernet port, SD card slot, audio jacks
BATTERY: 37 watt-hour
FEATURES: 1 2 3 4 5
DESIGN: 1 2 3 4 5
PERFORMANCE: 1 2 3 4 5
VALUE FOR MONEY: 1 2 3 4 5
BATTERY LIFE: 1 2 3 4 5
OVERALL: 1 2 3 4 5
To its credit, it does not look cheap. The lid and base have an attractive textured finish that is almost cloth-like. Acer says it 3D-scanned fabric samples to create this finish. The laptop is relatively slim, though its 2.3kg weight is typical for its size. Its 15-inch form factor allows for a number pad, though these number keys are narrower than the rest of the keys.
The keyboard is fairly shallow but spacious, and is not backlit, possibly to keep costs down. The large touchpad responds quickly to multitouch gestures, including Windows 8.1's swipe gestures.
The built-in optical drive is unusual in that it supports M-Disc, a type of optical media that is said to be more durable than standard DVDs. As Windows 8.1 does not come with DVD playback software, Acer has helpfully preloaded CyberLink PowerDVD 12.
I am less than enamoured with some of the default apps. These are Acer's proprietary take on standard features such as a photo gallery and media player. Unlike other third-party apps, they are linked to Acer's own cloud storage solution.
Those who do not use Dropbox or OneDrive may find the Acer apps useful, but I am unlikely to migrate my files to yet another cloud storage provider. The Acer uses the latest Intel Broadwell-class Core i7 chip. An entry-level Nvidia graphics chip ensures that you can do a bit of gaming on the side, though its prowess extends only to older games at modest graphics settings. In Bioshock Infinite, the Acer managed 31 frames per second at High setting. Battery life, at 5.5 hours, is fairly good for a 15-inch laptop.
- A decent 15-inch laptop for budget users, if you can overlook its lacklustre display.