The Acer Aspire V5-571-6891 ($499.99 list) is a Windows 8 budget desktop replacement laptop with very few compromises. It comes with a large 15.6-inch display with a full keyboard, multi-touch trackpad, DVD burner, dual-band (2.4GHz and 5GHz) Wi-Fi, USB 3.0 and HDMI. It gives the value minded user all he needs to do work locally and over the Internet, and earns our Editors’ Choice for budget laptops.
Design and Features
The V5-571-6891 is a thin, black desktop replacement laptop. Its dimensions measure about 10 by 15 by 0.91 inches (HWD), with a weight a smidge above five pounds (5.07 pounds). This makes the system a lot more portable than older laptops that can be twice as thick. The system’s chiclet style keyboard is comfortable to use, with a good key feel. There’s a full numeric keypad to the right side of the keyboard, a plus for students and users who need to deal with numbers. The keyboard isn’t backlit, but you really don’t expect one at this price point. The one-piece trackpad is multitouch, so you can easily swipe the new Windows 8 interface, including the gestures that bring up the Charms tool bar, as well as other gestures needed for Windows 8 like swipes from the edges, two finger clicks, and multitouch scrolling.
The system comes with a 15.6-inch widescreen LCD panel, with a 1,366 by 768 resolution. 1,366 by 768 is good for up to 720p HD video, though 1080p videos will have to be scaled down to fit. 1,366 by 768 means that user interface elements like close boxes and icons will be larger than they would be on a 1,600 by 900 or 1,920 by 1,080 resolution screen. While this may be a little low res for a high-end user, 1,366 by 768 is perfectly adequate for the general user who doesn’t need high resolution for photos or videos. In fact, a user with aging eyesight will welcome the larger letters and icons in desktop mode. All of this is moot in the Windows 8 user interface (aka Start screen), since Windows automatically scales the tiles to fill the screen.
The system comes with Microsoft’s new Windows 8 operating system, like almost all PCs sold this season. If you’ve never used Windows 8 before, it will be an interesting learning experience, since you’re meant to select programs from the Start screen rather than opening them from the now missing Start menu. Using the trackpad to move the cursor around the screen works fine, but it would behoove you to take a look at a Windows 8 primer online to learn some of the more useful commands. At the very least, get used to swiping with two fingers to scroll elements from off screen on to the screen. If you’ve used Windows 8 or RT on a tablet like the Microsoft Surface RT or on a touch-optimized system like the Sony VAIO Duo 11 (D11213CX), you will probably miss the touch screen. Windows 8 was really designed to work better with a touch screen: On the V5-571-6891, the Start screen gets in the way somewhat, since you have to scroll the interface back and forth with the trackpad. It works, but you may find yourself reaching for the screen to click on tiles and move the Start screen around. Once you’re in a program it should be okay, since programs still act the way you expect them to, and they’re easier to work on when they are blown up to full screen.
There are already quite a few icons pre-loaded in the desktop mode They number among the usual bloatware subjects, including eBay, Netflix, WildTangent Games, and Norton Online Backup. If you’re a current user of any of these services, the icons are a convenience, but otherwise they just clutter the desktop. Strangely enough, the same tiles in the Start menu aren’t as cluttered, as they are neatly stacked and don’t look out of place in the Start menu.
The V5-571-6891 comes with a pair of USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port, a full HDMI port, and a port for the system’s combination VGA and Ethernet dongle. The USB 3.0 port helps to future-proof the laptop, and is colored blue to differentiate it from the pair of slower black USB 2.0 ports. We would like to see them all USB 3.0, but we understand a budget buyer may not need more than one speedy USB 3.0 port at this time. Just make sure to use the correct port when connecting a recently purchased hard drive (older USB 2.0 drives and peripherals like mice will work in all three USB ports, but newer, USB 3.0 devices won’t work as fast as they could if you plug them into the USB 2.0 ports). The full size HDMI port is nice; we wish that the VGA and Ethernet ports were also full-sized. There is horizontal room on the chassis for them, but the case may be physically too thin for the VGA port. The included dongle “works,” but it’s also just another piece to be lost in your commute bag.
The built in tray-loading DVD burner is a throwback to the now-dying standard, though it will come in handy from time to time if you have a large library of movies or boxed software. Movies looked clear on the laptop’s screen, with room filling sound from the Dolby-optimized speakers.
The system comes with an Intel Core i3-processor, six GB of system memory, a 500GB hard drive, and Intel integrated graphics. Until this year, you’d expect to possibly get an Intel Pentium or AMD E-class processor, 2-3GB of memory, and a 320GB hard drive for $499. With this setup, you’re unlikely to find many programs online and off the shelf that won’t run on the V5-571-6891. 6GB is a nice touch, you’ll be able to keep many tabs open in Internet Explorer or Chrome with that much memory. This level of equipment is refreshing, because until recently, netbooks still had problems running programs like light 3D games that require DX10/DX11, netbooks had much lower resolution screens, and many apps ran dog slow on systems with an ultra low voltage 1.5GHz processor like in a netbook. The V5-571-6891 comes with a standard one-year warranty.
Speaking of performance, the V5-571-6891 ran all the benchmark tests. The system isn’t a speed demon, but it has enough oomph to make short work of day-to-day tasks. Its PCMark7 score of 2090 points is on par for what we’ve seen from budget laptops like the Asus U56E-BBL6 (2,255 points), our former budget Editors’ Choice laptop. We don’t have comparable budget laptop numbers for our new Handbrake 0.9.8 test (1:57) and Photoshop CS6 (8:43) yet, but suffice to say this is a decent baseline number. You can do occasional multimedia tasks on the system, but it’s really made for consuming media like online videos and photos, both of which display without a hitch, even 1080p HD videos like the latest Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome webisodes. Its 3D gaming is understandably weak, though the system comes with Intel HD Graphics 4000 instead of the base 2500 version, so you’ll get a little better performance than you’d expect. High-end games are out of the question, but lighter fare like World of Warcraft or Torchlight is easily in the system’s capabilities.
The V5-571-6891 comes with a removable 4-cell battery, which is good for a somewhat anemic four-hour battery life (4:07) on our video rundown test. This is significantly less than Acer’s five-hour battery life claims, but the battery life is sufficient for a movie plus a bunch of Web surfing around the house. If you’re buying the V5-571-6891 for home use or even students that may forget their power adapter in their dorm room, four hours battery life is enough, as you wouldn’t be straying from a power plug for too long. Of course, the battery won’t last you a cross-continental airline flight, so this system is less suitable for road warriors. If you are one of these type of users, it would be best to upgrade to a higher-capacity battery or look for a system that will last a little longer like the Dell XPS 12, or the Acer Aspire S3-391-6046, both of which last about five hours on the same rundown test. Tablets running Windows RT like the Asus Vivo Tab RT last even longer: almost ten hours.
The Acer Aspire V5-571-6891 is an interesting beast. It has everything you’d want in a $500 laptop, minus a long battery life. Its pricing recalls the netbooks of 2008-2011, but it’s so much more powerful than any of those, with a much larger screen. The budget Toshiba Satellite C655-S5542 is less expensive than the V5-571-6891 by $99, but you give up USB 3.0, HDMI, 3GB of memory, and quite a bit of performance due to a Celeron processor. For $500, it’s surprising to find a latest-generation Intel Core processor, 4 to 6GB of memory, a 500GB hard drive, large screen, and a full keyboard and Windows-8 compliant trackpad It balances its thinness and large screen well, to the point that it is quite portable around the house or campus. It’s a lot more modern than the Asus U56E-BBL6, which uses a second-generation Intel Core processor, is bigger and heavier, and doesn’t come with Windows 8. The Acer Aspire V5-571-6891 meets the requirements for the basic user, with extra flourishes like a numeric keypad, good sound, and exceeds expectations for a budget laptop. Therefore we award the V5-571-6891 our Editors’ Choice for budget laptops.
BENCHMARK TEST RESULTS
Check out the test scores for the The Acer Aspire V5-571-6891
Compare the The Acer Aspire V5-571-6891 with several other laptops side by side.
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|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 8|
|Weight||5.07 lb, 5.07 lb|
|Graphics Card||Intel HD Graphics 4000, Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|Type||General Purpose, Value, Tablet, Consumer Ultra-Low Voltage|
|RAM||6 GB, 6 GB|
|Screen Size Type||Widescreen|
|Processor Speed||1.8 GHz, 1.8 GHz|
|Primary Optical Drive||Dual-Layer DVD+/-RW|
|Screen Size||15.6 inches, 15.6 inches|
|Storage Capacity (as Tested)||500 GB, 500 GB|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc