Acer Aspire V5 £299
4th Oct 2013 | 16:40
A touchscreen and decent build quality can't rescue this budget laptop
The Acer Aspire V5-122P tries to be all things for all users but, in doing so, doesn't stand out in any particular area and largely falls short of other options like the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 or the Asus VivoBook S200.
For example, the 1.3kg, 11.6-inch chassis is light and very portable which would make it an ideal option for frequent travellers. But the battery life is so poor that you'll struggle to get a solid two hours of use from it.
Likewise, the keyboard is sturdy and spacious and great for typing on - but unfortunately the equally spacious trackpad is awkward and unresponsive.
Acer has somewhat remedied this by giving the V5-122P touchscreen input and, as such, it works very well with Microsoft's Windows 8. You won't need to navigate using the touchpad's frustrating integrated click buttons because you can just reach up and swipe through options on the screen.
Although available in a wide range of specifications, our review model arrived with an AMD A6-1460 processor with a clock speed of 1.0GHz and backed by 4GB of DDR3 RAM. While these components handled complex processes well on day one, we're not sure how well the V5-122P will hold up after a year's worth of program installation and software updates.
And yet, this middling specification does land the Aspire V5-122P with the not-unattractive asking price of £380. So, as long as you're happy to compromise on a few features, you can save yourself some cash over the likes of the HP Envy x2 or the premium Sony Vaio Duo 11.
But, returning to our original point, it's not exactly clear what you're going to be using this laptop for anyway. The display is passable but certainly not built for media.
The specifications will keep the basic web applications running nicely and let you run simple creative software, but don't expect to be gaming or editing HD footage. And, as we mentioned, it's portable enough to be a mobile workstation but the battery life lets it down.
The Aspire V5-122P comes across almost as a supercharged netbook. You could well find a use for it but, ultimately, there's nothing you can't do here that couldn't be accomplished with an Ultrabook and, for example, Microsoft's recently price-cut Surface Pro tablet.
Although available with Intel-configured components, our review model was built around an AMD A6 quad-core processor.
It's AMD's middle-ranking processor and combines both the CPU and GPU onto a single chip. The graphics side of things is handled by the integrated Radeon HD 8250 unit - which will manage graphically complex websites and high-definition media playback, but not too much more.
While performance isn't as acute as Intel's offering, the AMD model of the Aspire V5-122P comes in cheaper and is a good option if you're stuck on a budget.
In terms of memory, the Aspire V5 is loaded with 4GB of RAM, which keeps things moving at a reasonably slick pace.
It would be even quicker if storage was handled by a solid-state drive rather than the 500GB hard drive Acer has decided to use here. Because this isn't an Ultrabook, there's no requirement for an SSD and so presumably it has been omitted to keep the costs down.
But, credit where credit is due, and the Acer Aspire V5-122P does deserve some for its display. The screen boasts a standard 1,366 x 768 pixel resolution which means it'll handle 720p HD footage but not full on 1080p.
Even so, the 11.6-inch LED-backlit screen is bright and crisp with a reflective TFT coating that gives a better contrast than your average matte display. Our one complaint is the thick black bezel surrounding the screen.
The Aspire V5-122P also gets points from us for being a touchscreen - a feature that is fast becoming nigh-on essential as Windows 8 gathers adoption. You will, unfortunately, get greasy marks all over the TFT display, but the usability positive outweighs the aesthetic negative.
Acer has employed a standard brushed-metal design approach with the V5, similar to the company's earlier Aspire S3 Ultrabook.
The slightly rounded corners of the chassis can't disguise a boxy look, although it does feel reasonably sturdy. Push down on the chassis either side of the touchpad and you'll notice some serious flex - but even so, this laptop should be able to put up with the inevitable bumps and knocks.
This laptop doesn't muster a mind-blowing set of specifications, but it does come in reasonable, considering the price you'll pay for it. You also won't find it clogged with pre-loaded bloatware, although Acer has included its clear.fi media management program for playing music and watching videos.
- 3D Mark: Ice Storm: 21479 // Cloud Gate: 1860 // Fire Strike: 258 //
- Cinebench: 1CPU: 215 // xCPU: 580
- Battery Eater: 92 mins
- PCMark 8: Home score: 1474 // Battery test: 147 minutes
When it comes to performance, the Acer Aspire V5-112P is a mixed bag.
We've made it clear that the specifications prevent any serious computational gruntwork, so essentially you're going to be using this machine for web surfing, general media usage and producing basic office work like reports, presentations or spreadsheets.
The now-respectable amount of Windows 8 apps also means you can get some casual gaming done as well. But, rather than make this a hybrid device to take advantage of the touchscreen, as with the similarly-spec'd Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 or the high-end Dell XPS 12, Acer has kept it firmly as a laptop.
That does have some advantages. The keyboard is a spacious, isolation-style affair with a reassuring amount of travel and rounded, well-sized keys. In other words, banging out a quick email - and, for that matter, writing this review - isn't a problem at all.
We touched on it during the introduction, but the trackpad isn't very responsive. At times the cursor wouldn't respond to contact on certain parts of the pad, and, frequently, the Aspire V5-112P wouldn't register mouse clicks.
Using the now de-facto integrated buttons is good for making the chassis look uncluttered and minimalist, but we take issue when it doesn't actually work all that well.
Battery life is another problem. Given the miniscule 289 x 206 x 21mm dimensions and the ultra-low voltage (ULV) processor, we'd expect a lot more from the 3-cell, 2640mAh Li-ion battery. However, a maximum stress test with looped HD video, full performance settings and a Battery Eater program running drained the juice in a mere 92 minutes.
Acer quotes a 3.5-hour runtime for this model of the Aspire V5. But, when we ran a second test using the PCMark 8 benchmarking program it was dead in a (slightly more forgiving) 147 minutes; just under two-and-a-half hours. The accompanying charger won't take up much space in your bag, but that's beside the point.
Connectivity is reasonably well catered for. Acer has included two USB ports, one of which is the faster USB 3.0 variant, as well as an SD card reader for expanding storage. There's also a unique Acer Converter Cable Port. This looks a lot like a mini DisplayPort, and basically works the same way as a digital display output. You can use a mini DisplayPort-to-HDMI adapter to hook the Aspire V5-122P up to an external display. Irritatingly, though, Acer doesn't supply one in the box.
There's no Ethernet connection, so you'll be relying on the 802.11b/g/n wireless to access the internet. This should be sufficient for the majority of tasks we imagine the average user will require, but it is worth noting that the faster "ac" standard is beginning to be adopted in the UK this year.
The Acer Aspire V5-122P feels like a notebook the Taiwanese company just dashed off between high-profile Ultrabook launches and, as such, is hard to recommend.
What could have been a highly-portable touch-enabled work laptop is undone by a poor battery and some ropey usability issues.
But it isn't without its positives: the 11-inch touchscreen display is bright, sharp and works well with the Windows 8 interface. Likewise, the dimensions and weight really do make this a good portable option. We can see the Aspire V5-122P working as a secondary work computer or a first-time laptop for a student.
As you would expect, performance is adequate without being exceptional. It is mostly down to the 4GB of DDR3 RAM rather than the quad-core ULV AMD processor. And, while the V5-122P works well out-of-the-box, we wouldn't put money on exceptional longevity two or three years down the line.
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As a Windows 8 machine, the Acer Aspire V5-122P sets as a goodish example. It's small and light enough to be carried around, but still packs in a touchscreen to make use of Microsoft's new UI. The LED-backlit display is sharp and responsive and, thanks to the TFT coating, boasts a good contrast ratio for consuming media.
We also found the chassis to be well built and reasonably good-looking. Aside from the slightly boxy aesthetic, the brushed-metal design means it sits as well in the boardroom as it does in the bedroom.
Despite not being an Ultrabook, it's thin enough to slide unnoticed into a bag but won't break apart after a couple of knocks on the road.
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We really felt the battery should be better in a machine like this. A three- or four-hour battery life is ultimately what we would expect, and the Acer Aspire V5-122P falls short.
We felt the biggest usability issue was the unresponsive trackpad that, on occasion, failed to register movement or mouse clicks. It can, to some extent, be circumvented by using the touchscreen, but that's hardly an excuse.
Lastly, the specs on our review model felt overwhelmingly like they would be obsolete in six months' time. This isn't exactly a cause for concern as other configurations are available, and laptops are refreshed almost biannually anyway.
However, we wouldn't be putting the Acer Aspire V5-122P in the 'future proof' section of any electronics store.
A laptop that could have been a solidly portable machine is let down by a below-average battery performance and some annoying usability frustrations. While it could serve as a first-time laptop or an office-supplied backup, we would advise looking at the competition first.