Affordable; Light for 15-inch laptop; Good overall performance; Snappy keyboard; Long battery life for the price
Mouse bar stiff in the middle; Poor speaker placement; Dim display
For $499, the Acer Aspire E1-572-6870 is an affordable and lightweight 15-inch notebook with Intel's latest fourth-generation processor.
If you think budget laptops are all about cutting corners, think again. Acer's latest 15-inch notebook, the $499 Aspire E1-572-6870, features the latest fourth-generation Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive. You get all of this in a design that's lighter than competing machines. The Aspire E1 lacks a touch screen, so overall, is this Windows 8 system worth the price?
Made of smooth, black plastic with a subtle speckled metallic finish, the Aspire E1-572's design somewhat masks its budget price, but there's nothing interesting about the look. The lid and keyboard deck, which have the same finish, are prone to fingerprints, but at least they look nuanced in the light. A thick, matte plastic bezel surrounds this laptop's glossy, 15.6-inch display. We did notice a fair amount of flex along the bottom edge of the lid, midway between the hinges.
Measuring 15 x 10.1 x 0.8 inches, the Aspire E1 is slightly larger and thicker than the Lenovo G580 (14.8 x 9.6 x 0.68 inches), but slimmer than the ASUS X550CA (14.9 x 9.8 x 0.97-1.2 inches). Weighing just 4.6 lbs., the E1 is lighter than the G580 (5.2 lbs.) and the X550CA (4.8 lbs.).
When we watched a trailer for the upcoming "Thor: The Dark World" at 720p, every last strand of Chris Hemsworth's golden locks was visible. However, the red in Thor's cape looked washed-out and muted. When we moved just slightly to either side of the LCD, it resulted in distracting color distortion.
Registering a paltry 139 lux, the Aspire E1-572 falls below competing value-priced notebooks like the ASUS X550CA (144 lux) and the Lenovo G580 (211 lux).
The Aspire E1-572 comes with dual stereo speakers located on the bottom of the chassis. Though loud, audio sounded more distorted than when we held the notebook in the air. With the E1-572 sitting on a flat surface, it blasted The Eagles' "Witchy Woman," producing the dueling guitars in crystal-clear definition.
Oddly enough, this laptop's stereo speakers sit on its bottom half, sending sound directly toward whatever surface it rests on. Flipping the E1-572 so that its speakers faced us directly produced even clearer, more booming sound. Frankly, we're baffled as to why this notebook's speakers aren't placed on the keyboard deck.
Just keep in mind that the Esc, Tilde, Tab and Caps Lock keys are all shrunken, presumably to make room for full-length Backspace and right Shift keys.
When we first started using the Aspire E1, the palm rejection for the 4.25 x 2.5-inch Elan touchpad was set to its lowest sensitivity, which caused the cursor to jump around the screen. Upping the palm-rejection function considerably alleviated this problem.
Windows 8 gestures worked well on the touchpad, but we had to be deliberate in order for them to register. Although the Aspire E1 has a discrete mouse button, it's a single bar, as opposed to two buttons. The button is easiest to press at its edges but has a large dead zone in its center, making clicking on that part impossible.
After playing an episode of "Family Guy" on Hulu for 15 minutes, the Aspire E1-572 reached 88 degrees Fahrenheit (31 degrees Celsius) on its touchpad and 85 degrees F (29 degrees C) between its G and H keys. On its underside, we recorded 95 degrees F (35 degrees C). That's just on the threshold of what we consider uncomfortable.
Ports and Webcam
Although it can record video up to 720p in resolution, the 0.9-MP webcam leaves much to be desired. Video was grainy, and while the blue and red of our shirts were saturated, some details (such as people's hair) got lost.
Coupled with 4GB of DDR3 RAM and a 500GB, 5,400 rpm hard drive, the E1 scored 2,668 on PCMark 7, which measures overall system performance. The ASUS X550CA and Lenovo G580, which sport third-generation Intel Core chips, had lower scores of 1,918 and 2,565, respectively.
The E1-572 booted Windows 8 in 20 seconds, well under the category average of 38 seconds. That beats the Lenovo G580's time of 23 seconds, but it was 5 seconds slower than the ASUS X550CA.
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On our OpenOffice Spreadsheet Test, in which the laptop matches 2,000 names and addresses, the Aspire E1 completed the task in 5 minutes and 16 seconds. That's about half a minute faster than average, but the Lenovo G580 finished the test in just 4 minutes and 47 seconds. The X550CA took a glacial 8 minutes and 58 seconds to complete the test.
In our general use, the Aspire E1-572 kept up with us as we switched back and forth between the Windows 8 Modern UI and its desktop mode. With several browser tabs open in Chrome, we noticed little to no slowdown.
The Aspire E1 might use the latest Intel HD Graphics 4400 chip, but we wouldn't attempt to play much more than "World of Warcraft" on this rig. With a score of 805 on 3DMark 11, the Aspire E1 beat the Lenovo G580 (597) and the ASUS X550CA (559). So, although this score falls significantly below the 15-inch laptop average of 1,306, this category includes notebooks that are pricier.
On the W.O.W. test, the E1-572 achieved a playable 33 frames per second at its native 1366 x 768 resolution and normal settings. Turning the game up to its highest settings at the same resolution brought that frame rate down to an unplayable 18 fps. The X550CA notched an unplayable 23 fps on normal settings and the same resolution, while the G580 didn't fare much better, at 27 fps on the same settings.
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Software and Warranty
Third-party apps include full versions of "Cut The Rope" and "Doodle God," along with Kindle, Netflix, Spotify and a 30-day trial of Norton's Internet Security suite.
What prevents this notebook from being an Editors' Choice winner is the mouse bar's stiffness in the center, as well as the lackluster audio. Overall, though, the Acer Aspire E1-572 offers plenty of value.
|CPU||1.6-GHz Intel Core i5-4200U dual-core processor|
|Operating System||Windows 8|
|RAM Upgradable to|
|Hard Drive Size||500GB|
|Hard Drive Speed||5,400rpm|
|Hard Drive Type||SATA Hard Drive|
|Secondary Hard Drive Size|
|Secondary Hard Drive Speed|
|Secondary Hard Drive Type|
|Optical Drive Speed|
|Graphics Card||Intel HD Graphics 4400|
|Touchpad Size||4.25 x 2.5 inches|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Lock Slot|
|Ports (excluding USB)||HDMI-out|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Gigabit Ethernet|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Ethernet|
|Ports (excluding USB)||USB 3.0|
|Ports (excluding USB)||USB 2.0|
|Card Slots||SD memory reader|
|Warranty/Support||One-year parts and labor|
|Size||15 x 10.1 x 0.8 inches|