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Too expensive, the ultrabook Acer Aspire S5, Review is not convincing

The upscale version of the Aspire S5 is a correct machine, equipped with a Thunderbolt Jack. The Aspire S5 was announced with great fanfare at CES 2012 in Las Vegas. The main innovation of this ultrabook: behind a small door motor on the rear of the machine, there is a Thunderbolt, HDMI output and two USB 3.0 ports. For the rest of specs, Acer seems to have unfortunately relied on the standard of the first ultra-thin notebooks to develop the S5 then Asus and Samsung already unsheathe their second generation of machines, much more accomplished. The Aspire S5 comes in several versions, including the high-end model, the Aspire S5-391. But is it big enough to compete with other Ultrabooks lets find out?

The S5 Aspire Acer aims to correct the defects of the Aspire S3. This was the first ultrabook brand on the shelves and it wiped moult critics to compete at the time, namely the Toshiba Portege Z830 or the Zebook UX31E and UX21E. In short, the Aspire S5, which is also a 13.2 inches ultrabook, aims to boost the image of Acer in the mobility segment.

Design and Construction of Acer Aspire S5

The Aspire S5-391 offers a neater finish than the S3, there is no doubt. The set weighs 1.18 kg and the thickness of the machine does not exceed 1.8 cm thicker. Profile or closed, the Aspire S5 is quite attractive but still a bit too austere. The cover of the 13.3-inch screen is black brushed aluminium construction. As for the interior of the machine, it is entirely covered with dark-colour magnesium, with a brushed effect. Fingerprints appear less bright than on plastic but they still remain visible.
Touchpad offers a smooth, plastic and fully clickable experience. It takes a little time to get their bearings and master it, but nothing insurmountable.

Keyboard and monitor doesn’t match

The keyboard, it possesses well-separated keys and occupies the place properly allocated to it. Nevertheless, some buttons do not fall neatly under the fingers as the Enter key, which boils down to a thin vertical bar. Offered touch keys in Aspire A5 is pretty hard but enjoyable. Strum of the text on the S5 is pleasant. However, the big, huge weak point of this keyboard is its lack of backlighting. In the world of ultrabooks, where the backlit keyboard becomes a standard, it is an oversight in size! Especially since the declination of the S5 is priced at 1,499 Euros.

The other big issue of the Aspire S5 is its screen. The upper and lower edges of the slab are thick and have a coarse appearance. Brilliant, the screen displays a definition of just 1366 x 768 pixels while the trend is to display HD + (1600 x 900) or, better, Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels). Moreover, it’s very poor contrast ratio (675:1) and brightness just correct (231 cd / m 2).

A configuration that is all about the SSD

To work, surf and watch a movie in Aspire S5, the configuration proposed here by Acer is quite suitable. It combines an Intel Core i7-3517U (two cores clocked at 1.9 GHz), 4GB memory and 256GB SSD storage. With the latter, the machine is faster (start in 13 seconds). Moreover, the result of SSD space to store a more documents, videos and MP3 tracks on a standard ultrabook which usually offers only 128 GB SSD.
Meanwhile, the graphics is provided by the Intel graphics controller built into the processor. Its capabilities are limited to read the full HD and run old games. Do not expect to play recent titles in good condition: you have to sacrifice beauty to the fluidity.

For cooling its machinery, Acer uses a quiet fan at rest (32.1 dB). However, it cannot completely be forgotten at full speed (38.6 dB). As for temperature readings on the machine, the thermal camera shows 27 ° C on top of the palm rest, ideal for working without much sweat. However, attention to thighs as the mercury rises to 48 ° C under the machine in the test conditions.

Average battery life

Endurance is one of the most critical factors in an ultrabook. The Aspire S5 embeds a polymer battery of four cells supposed to feed the machine for 6 hours and 30 minutes. In reality, video playback, screen brightness at maximum and Wi-Fi connected, it takes the machine awake for just under 4 hours, 30 minutes but it is longer than the S3.
Connectors in Acer Aspire S5

The connector is housed in a motorized door, which opens at the touch of a button located on the upper right side of the keyboard. It includes two USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI video output jack and a Thunderbolt. However, Acer has not done to perfection this part of the machine: in the closed position, the edges of the hatch and the shell of the laptop are not in contact.
Acer Aspire S5 Software

Acer preloads its solution Clear.fi, the DLNA home, which allows sharing of content with all PCs, phones and tablets without much having to reach into the network. The manufacturer also installs the Acer Instant Update running on the same principle as the Intel Smart Connect. This software automatically updates Outlook (not included) and your web pages (Facebook, Twitter) when the machine is idle, by connecting to Wi-Fi at regular intervals. Finally, there is Office 2010 Starter, McAfee Antivirus (trial version) and many other little games and software but not always useful.

Conclusion

This version of the Aspire S5 is priced too much. The Thunderbolts and 256 GB SSDs are significantly responsible for the expensive price and Acer made – and more – too many to overlook important elements in this product family. Starting with the aesthetics and defining its screen that is clearly in retreat from the competition. Then, the brand “forgets” to backlight the keyboard ultrabook, a feature that matters to all. Finally, the finish of the door would have deserved much more attention to perfectly marry the underside of the machine and be as discreet as possible. Acer does not however magnifier not quite the boat: the overall finish of the product is still much better than the S3.