The 11.6-inch Acer Aspire V3-111P hits almost all of the right notes for a budget laptop. For the very affordable price of $370, this lightweight notebook offers 6 hours of battery life, excellent speakers and enough processing power to browse the Web, compose a document or stream music. Should this Aspire V3 be at the top of your list?
Like most 11-inch affordable laptops, the Aspire V3-111P features a square, nondescript design that's vaguely reminiscent of a netbook. The plastic lid sports a faux brushed-aluminum finish that's very convincing, as well as an embossed Acer logo on the left. The hinges at the bottom rotate smoothly, and the screen remained securely upright when we lifted the computer while the lid was open.
A 720p webcam is positioned above the screen, with another Acer logo below. Like the lid, the deck features a silver finish, and the wrist rest is slightly elevated. As expected with such a small laptop, there's very little room on either side of the keyboard, giving it a cramped feel. The 4.1 x 2.4-inch touchpad is centered beneath the G and H keys.
At 11.5 x 8.3 x 0.9 inches and 3.06 pounds, the Aspire V3-111P is nearly identical in size to the $484 HP Pavilion x360 (12.12 x 8.46 x 0.86 inches, 3.08 pounds) and $400 Dell Inspiron 11 3000 (11.8 x 7.93 x 0.83, 3.1 pounds), both of whose lids can rotate 360 degrees into a tablet mode.
The V3-111P's cousin, the $430 laptop-tablet hybrid Acer Aspire Switch 10, is noticeably lighter even with the keyboard dock attached, weighing 2.4 pounds and measuring 10.3 x 7 x 0.3 inches.
Click to EnlargeThe Aspire V3-111P's 11.6-inch, 1366 x 768 touch screen is colorful and relatively crisp. When we visited NYTimes.com, the masthead didn't appear overly pixelated, and text looked sharp. Colors appeared deep and lush as well.
The screen suffers from fairly narrow viewing angles, however. We could only rotate the display about 10 degrees to either side before the colors began to wash out.
Unfortunately, this Acer notebook's display is dimmer than the competition. When we measured the brightness with our light meter, the Aspire V3-111P registered 171 nits. This is outshined by the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 (183 nits), Aspire Switch 10 (324 nits) and ultraportable average (253 nits). On the other hand, the HP Pavilion x360 hit only 151 nits.
According to our colorimeter, the Aspire V3-111P produced 66.4 percent of the sRGB color spectrum, which is significantly better than the HP Pavilion x360's score of 57 percent and slightly above the 63.5 percent produced by the Aspire Switch 10. Still, this falls below the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 (81.7 percent).
The Aspire V3-111P fared about as well on the Delta E benchmark, which measures color accuracy. Its score of 6.3 is better than the HP Pavilion x360 (7.4) and the Inspiron 11 (9.3), but it's far below the score of 1 registered by the Aspire Switch 10. A score of 0 reflects perfect color accuracy.
The 10-point touch screen responded quickly and accurately to input. Gestures like scrolling and edge swiping executed seamlessly, and we could use all 10 fingers simultaneously in Paint.
Click to EnlargeThe audio quality from the Aspire V3-111P's bottom-mounted speakers are better than we've seen on many budget laptops. When we listened to Pearl Jam's "Even Flow" at maximum volume, the music easily filled our living room, and the bass and treble seemed perfectly balanced. We were particularly impressed by the lack of distortion, which is a problem we've noticed on laptops that are twice as expensive as the Aspire V3-111P.
On Laptop Mag's audio test, in which we measure a constant tone from 23 inches away, the Aspire V3-111P registered an impressive 92 decibels. This blows away the 82 dB achieved by the Aspire Switch 10 and the Dell Inspiron 11 3000, as well as the ultraportable average (84 dB). The HP Pavilion x360 was nearly as loud at 90 dB.
The HD Audio Manager tool lets you select from equalizer presets such as Pop, Rock and Jazz, or adjust individual frequencies. You can also choose environmental sound effects, such as Living Room, Forest and (yes) Sewer Pipe.
MORE: 5 Best Acer Laptops
Keyboard and Touchpad
Click to EnlargeLike a netbook, the Aspire V3-111P's island-style keyboard is too cramped to use comfortably for an extended period of time, but will suffice for shorter stints. The chiclet-shaped keys have just 1.24 mm of vertical travel, which falls below the acceptable 1.5- to 2-mm range, and require 55 grams of force to depress (which is on the high end).
In addition, the Enter key is small, and the arrow keys, Page Up key and Page Down key are crammed in together. Overall, the typing experience felt mushy and imprecise. On the Ten Thumbs Typing Test, we achieved a rate of 63 words per minute, which falls below our average rate of 68 wpm.
The glossy plastic 4.1 x 2.4-inch touchpad provided a somewhat better experience, but also suffered from some imprecision. The cursor accurately tracked the movement of our finger, but the touchpad occasionally failed to recognize gestures such as two-finger scrolling and two-finger tapping.
Ports and Webcam
Click to EnlargeSomewhat annoyingly, the majority of the ports are located on the back of the Aspire V3-111P, but there's a strong complement for a budget notebook: HDMI, a USB 2.0 port, a USB 3.0 port and an Ethernet port. The AC port is on the back of the laptop, which proved annoying as the power cord frequently slid underneath the machine when we tried to put it on the table. Another USB 2.0 port, a headphone/microphone combo jack and an SD Card reader are on the left.
Click to EnlargeThe laptop's 720p webcam captures vivid but grainy photos and video. When we took a headshot in our apartment, the colors looked accurate, but details -- such as the hairs in our beard and the color of our eyes -- were lost in a blur.
The bottom of the Aspire V3-111P became quite warm during our testing. After streaming a full-screen video on Hulu for 15 minutes, the bottom of the laptop became toasty at 101 degrees. We consider anything above 95 degrees uncomfortable. The touchpad measured a cooler 82 degrees Fahrenheit and the space between the G and H keys hit 92 degrees.
Click to EnlargeOur test unit, the Aspire V3-111P- P6VM, has a 2.6-GHz Intel Pentium N3530 processor, 4GB of RAM, Intel HD graphics and a 500GB, 5,400-rpm hard drive. This is enough to tackle everyday tasks, but don't expect to do any taxing work such as video editing or gaming. We didn't experience any slowdowns while typing in Word and streaming music via Spotify, with multiple Chrome tabs open in the background.
On Geekbench 3, a synthetic test that measures overall performance, the Aspire V3-111P turned in a score of 3,026. This beats the 2,620 netted by the Aspire Switch 10 (1.33-GHz Intel Atom Z3745 processor, 2GB of RAM), but falls behind the 3,248 notched by the HP Pavilion x360 (2.17-GHz Intel Pentium N3520 Processor, 8GB of RAM) and the 3,395 achieved by the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 (2.16-GHz Intel Pentium N3530 CPU, 4GB of RAM).
On the File Transfer Test, the Aspire V3-111P copied 4.97GB of mixed-media files in 2 minutes and 39 seconds, for a rate of 32 MBps. This proved faster than the Aspire Switch 10 (23 MBps), HP Pavilion x360 (26 MBps) and Dell Inspiron 11 3000 (31 MBps).
When we ran the Spreadsheet Performance Test, the laptop took 15 minutes and 45 seconds to match 20,000 names and addresses in Open Office. As slow as that is compared with the 7:19 category average, it proved quicker than the Aspire Switch 10 (21:03) and HP Pavilion x360 (16:34). The Dell Inspiron 11 3000 was slightly faster with a time of 15:22.
Graphics and Gaming
Unsurprisingly, the Aspire V3-111P's Intel HD Graphics card won't be able to run many games beyond Plants vs. Zombies. On the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited test, the laptop achieved a score of 20,500. This narrowly exceeded the HP Pavilion x360 (19,423), the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 (20,361) and the Aspire Switch 10 (17,922) but falls well below the ultraportable average (26,961).
When we booted up World of Warcraft, the Aspire V3-111P averaged an unplayable 20 frames per second at 1366 x 768 resolution with the graphics on autodetect. That's not playable.
Click to EnlargeWith the screen brightness set to 100 nits (68 percent), the Aspire V3-111P lasted 6 hours and 22 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test (continuous surfing on the Web via Wi-Fi). That's longer than the HP Pavilion x360 (3:43) and Dell Inspiron 11 3000 (6:14), but just short of the 6:34 time notched by the Aspire Switch 10. The ultraportable average is an hour and half longer at 8:03.
Software and Warranty
Click to EnlargeThe Aspire V3-111P ships with very few preloaded applications. Acer Recover Management lets you restore Factory Settings, reinstall drivers or software, or perform a customized restore. This latter option will restore only the operating system, meaning that user data is retained. Identity Card shows you the laptop's product name, serial number and other information that will prove helpful if you need to call customer service. Finally, there's Live Updater, which automatically downloads and installs software updates.
Microsoft-branded Windows 8 apps include Fresh Paint, an art program that lets you select from a variety of brush and paint types; OneDrive; and Skype. Acer did not include antivirus software (even a trial version), but Windows Defender is a free alternative.
The Aspire V3-111P comes with a 1-year parts and labor warranty.
Besides our $370 review unit, the Aspire V3-111P-P6VM, Acer also offers a $350 model. The Aspire V3-111P-C9Z3 features a 1.83-GHz Intel Celeron N2930 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive. A $400 model, the Aspire V3-111P-43BC, comes equipped with a 2.16-GHz Intel Pentium N3530 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive.
Click to EnlargeAnyone in the market for a lightweight and inexpensive laptop will find a lot to like about the Acer Aspire V3-111P. For $370, this ultraporable sports enough processing power to handle everyday tasks, excellent speakers and 6-plus hours of battery life, all in a light and compact chassis.
Those looking for greater versatility might prefer Acer's laptop/tablet hybrid, the Aspire Switch 10, which offers comparable performance and battery life, and a brighter display, for a starting price of $379. You'll have to store most of your files in the cloud, however, as the Switch 10 offers only 32GB of storage. We also like the $450 Dell Inspiron 11 3000, which also converts to a tablet. But if hard drive size is as much a priority as affordability, the Aspire V3-111P is a very good choice.