Acer Aspire Z3 review

This all-in-one PC is built for looks, not power

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It's clear that we live in a world where tablets and Ultrabooks are in while big, while heavy desktops are steadily becoming less relevant. An all-in-one PC that looks more like a work of art than a desktop computer is a good start. Having the most features for the lowest price is also a solid strategy. However, in the quest to create a sort of desktop that feels like a tablet, the designers lost sight of what makes a desktop worthwhile.

We liked

That 23-inch, 1920 x 1080 screen is so beautiful that I could almost forgive some of the computer's problems. Movies like Gravity look positively stunning, especially if you hook a Blu-ray player into the system. If only there weren't performance hang-ups that completely drag down the user experience. The pretty, responsive touchscreen actually serves to highlight the computer's other shortcomings.

We disliked

The weak CPU is not the only issue here, but it's at the root of many of this PC's worst problems. The dated chip drastically limits the computer's capabilities, and thereby its overall usefulness. While most of the Z3's features look impressive on paper, they're rather poor in reality – from an HD webcam that records grainy video to a built-in speaker that's loud, but lacks depth. Even worse is that unreliable HDMI-in port with zero volume control.

Final Verdict

The concept behind the Acer Aspire Z3 sounds wonderful: a budget-minded, all-in-one PC designed for light, everyday use. The machine's large, attractive screen is an added bonus that makes video and images pop. It's as if most of Acer's resources were funneled into crafting an attractive system, at the expense of what's inside. It's not until you use the Z3 at length that its flaws come to light. And after adding them up, it's easy to feel misled, the victim of a bait and switch.

Furthermore, this PC is barely useable until Window 8 completes its initial updates; all but the most simple tasks are a hassle. Even afterward, be wary of automatic system updates and background processes that could gobble up what little processing power this machine holds. Considering the mounting disappointments, even when the bar was set pretty low, the Aspire Z3 is a gorgeous PC that difficult to recommend.