With its Aspire V5-122P, Acer is out to prove that not all touch-screen laptops need to be expensive. The $449 addition to the Aspire family sports an 11.6-inch touch screen, comes packed with 500GB of storage and runs on AMD's dual-core 1-GHz A6-1450 chip with 4GB of RAM. But is the Aspire V5-122P truly portable? Not without its power cord.
The Acer Aspire V5-122P sports a minimalist, clean design. The notebook's plastic lid has a brushed aluminum look with Acer's logo neatly printed in the right corner. On the underside, you'll find a chunkier hard black plastic that houses the Aspire's speakers and cooling vents.
Acer continues its tradition of placing the power button in a hard-to-find location; this time, it's along the right side of the notebook.
The Aspire V5's design is similar to Acer's line of Chromebooks, but has a deeper gray color instead of silver. We wouldn't expect to see the elegant nuances you'd find on a premium laptop such as the Aspire S7, but it would have been nice to see Acer change up its design.
The laptop's keyboard deck is coated with the same silver plastic found on the clamshell's lid. The 11.6-inch screen features an edge-to-edge glass design, which means that its black bezels feel as if they're part of the Acer V5's touch-screen display.
The 11.4 x 8.1 x 0.77-0.83-inch Acer notebook is nearly the same size as its 11.4 x 8.5 x 0.86-inch HP competitor. The 11.9 x 7.9 x 0.9-inch ASUS VivoBook is slightly wider, but is shorter and slimmer than both laptops.
The Acer Aspire V5-122P's 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 touch-screen display depicts vivid colors and sharp images -- when you can actually see the screen. The glossy display easily catches glare, making for poor viewing angles under fluorescent lighting.
When viewed head-on, the trailer for "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" was crisp. The shade of blue in Kristen Wiig's eyes looked especially vibrant, and outdoor scenes were packed with detail. For example, when Ben Stiller's character jumps into the ocean from a helicopter, we could see the ripples and fuzzy white foam in each salty sea wave. However, a co-worker sitting next to us couldn't even see the scene, due to the display's limited viewing angles.
The Aspire V5's display is also dimmer than your average ultraportable notebook, registering just 155 lux on our light meter. This is less bright than the HP Pavilion Touchsmart 11z's 173-lux 11.6-inch display of the same resolution and is also dimmer than the 246-lux ultraportable category average. To be fair, the ASUS VivoBook's 11.6-inch display hit just 151 lux.
Overall, we found the V5's touch screen to be fluid and responsive. We scrolled through the Windows 8 interface, selected icons and zipped through Web pages with ease. When reading an article, the pinch-to-zoom functionality made it easier to see smaller text.
As with most budget notebooks, the Acer Aspire V5's bottom-mounted speakers were passable. They did get loud, though: This tiny notebook pumped out music as loud as 84 decibels, which is higher than the average 81-decibel ultraportable.
"All Night" by Icona Pop sounded tinny and shallow at full volume, and there was no depth when the beat kicked in. The female singer's vocals sounded even more chirpy and high-pitched than usual, making Icona Pop sound more like Kidz Bop.
When playing "Gypsy" by Lady Gaga at full volume, the pop star's singing sounded somewhat muffled. Too bad there was no oomph from the band to support the song's bubbly melody.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The Acer Aspire V5's island-style keyboard is responsive enough for light productivity. We were pleased with its well-spaced layout and relatively deep key travel for a budget notebook, but the keys themselves felt a little cheap. We were able to notch 51 words per minute on the Ten Thumbs Typing test, which is just below our personal average of 55 WPM on mainstream notebooks.
The V5's 3.5 x 2-inch touchpad worked well in our testing. We had no issue navigating Web pages, selecting links and highlighting text. Two-finger scrolling and pinch-to-zoom gestures also worked flawlessly.
Ports and Webcam
The Acer Aspire V5-122P comes with a respectable number of ports. Along the left side, you'll find a lock slot, a USB 3.0 port, a mini DisplayPort and an SD Card Slot. The other side houses the AC adapter for charging the laptop, a USB 2.0 slot, a headphone jack and the device's power button.
The V5's 720p camera captured grainy images during our testing. When launching the Windows 8 camera app, we had to turn up the exposure in order to even see our facial features, even at normal brightness. Images looked fuzzy and yellowish.
Using Acer's Crystal Eye photo software, we had fun drawing silly pictures and applying color filters to our images. Unfortunately, the quality wasn't much better than when we used the stock Windows 8 camera app.
During the LAPTOP Heat Test, which consists of continuously streaming video on Hulu for 15 minutes, the Aspire V5 remained cool except for in one spot. The laptop's underside right near its hinge reached a scorching 101 degrees Fahrenheit, which is six degrees higher than the 95-degree threshold we consider to be uncomfortable. The rest of the laptop didn't come close to this number, however, with the touchpad reaching just 72 degrees, the area between the G and H keys hitting 84 degrees, and the underside breaching 85 degrees.
The Acer Aspire V5-122's 1-GHz dual-core AMD A6-1450 processor with 4GB of RAM and 500GB hard drive proved to be a capable combo. Playing casual games such as "Cut the Rope" with six other apps open didn't prove challenging for the Aspire V5. These apps included camera software, Internet Explorer with four tabs open, Xbox Video, Paint, Hulu Plus and Bing News.
The Acer notebook achieved mediocre results during synthetic benchmarks, however. Its score of 973 on PCMark7 is slightly lower the HP Pavilion TouchSmart 11z's mark of 1,081, which runs a 1-GHz dual-core AMD A4-1250 processor with 4GB of RAM. The ASUS VivoBook, which comes with a 1.8-GHz Intel Core i3-3217UM dual-core processor with 4GB of RAM, scored a much higher 2,040.
It took the Aspire V5-122P a somewhat sluggish 26 seconds to boot Windows 8.1, which is 7 seconds longer than the average ultraportable laptop (0:19), five seconds longer than the ASUS VivoBook's boot time (0:21) and 11 seconds longer than the HP TouchSmart 11z (0:15).
When duplicating 4.97GB of mixed media files, the V5's 5,400-rpm hard drive completed the task in 2 minutes and 44 seconds (31.03 MBps). That's enough to beat the HP TouchSmart 11z (21 MBps), as well as the ASUS VivoBook's 5,400-rpm 500GB drive (25 MBps).
During the OpenOffice Spreadsheet test, which matches 20,000 names to their corresponding addresses, the V5 took a lengthy 26 minutes and 14 seconds. This is faster than the 28 minutes and 28 seconds it took the TouchSmart 11z, but the ASUS VivoBook outperformed its rivals by a long shot with a time of 8:21.
The Aspire V5's AMD Radeon HD 8250 graphics card is enough for casual gaming and streaming HD videos. The laptop scored 467 on the 3DMark11 benchmark, which measures DirectX graphics performance. This is lower than the ultraportable category average of 697, but it beats the AMD Radeon HD 8180 graphics card found in the HP TouchSmart 11z, which registered 364. The ASUS VivoBook's integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics only managed 350 on the same test.
Playing "World of Warcraft" was basically impossible on the Aspire V5. On auto settings with the display at its native resolution, the MMO ran at an unplayable 20 frames per second. The frame rate dropped to 11 fps with the settings turned up.
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The Acer Aspire V5 comes preloaded with applications you'll find on many Windows 8 devices, such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, Kindle, eBay and "Cut the Rope," among other apps and games. Acer has also bundled a fair amount of its own software, including Acer Crystal Eye (see Webcam section) and AcerCloud.
AcerCloud automatically syncs data across all your computers and mobile devices. The suite comes with Acer's clear.fi Photo program for syncing photos, clear.fi Media for housing your music library across devices, AcerCloud Docs for organizing your documents on both your Android and PC devices, and the Acer Cloud portal. The included newsXpresso app lets you create a dashboard with shortcuts to your favorite publications.
Although the Acer Aspire V5-122P is designed for portability, don't expect to use it very long away from an outlet. The notebook only lasted for 3 hours and 41 minutes during the LAPTOP Battery Test, which consists of continuously surfing the Web with the display brightness set to 40 percent.
This runtime much lower than the 6:07 ultraportable category average and the HP TouchSmart 11z's time of 6:02. While we were also disappointed with the ASUS VivoBook's runtime of 4:20, that system lasted 40 minutes longer than the Acer.
Acer offers an assortment of ultraportable laptops in its Aspire V5 collection, with 17 devices in its V5-122P line alone. Our review unit runs a 1-GHz dual-core A6-1450 processor with 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive for $449. The least expensive configuration sells for $398 and comes with nearly the same internals, but swaps out the AMD A6 chip for a 1-GHz AMD A4-1250 dual-core processor.
The most expensive $549 edition of this notebook features a quad-core 1-GHz AMD A6-1450 processor with 6GB of RAM and also comes with 500GB of internal storage.
The $449 Acer Aspire V5-122P is an affordable and lightweight choice for those looking for a Windows 8 laptop with a touch-screen display. There's enough performance here for most computing tasks, and the keyboard is fairly comfortable. However, the $399 HP TouchSmart 11z lasts far longer on a single charge and also offers a touch-screen experience in an equally compact form factor. For a notebook designed to be portable, the Acer's battery life is far too short for us to recommend it.