The slim Acer Aspire V5 works as a stylish alternative to Intel's Ultrabook platform and although this machine doesn't boast the same kind of power, it can give you a reliable computing experience for a much lower price.
Looks-wise, this is a very attractive laptop. The silver metallic design, slim chassis and rounded corners are combined with a black chiclet keyboard and large touchpad with integrated buttons. It's smooth to the touch and remains blessedly cool during use.
Even though the chassis only measures 24mm in thickness, it still manages to cram in an optical DVD-RW for all of your physical media needs. Once you've got Windows 8 running here, it'll look very good indeed.
The V5 range is available with an 11.6-inch, 14-inch or 15.6-inch screen. Our review sample came with 15.6-inch display but even so, the machine only weighed 2.3kg.
The emphasis here is very much on slim and light at an affordable price. We could easily slip the Aspire V5 into a bag and carry it around for a day without breaking a sweat.
The screen itself is bright, and comes with a glossy reflective coating that gives colours a darker, deeper hue that works well for movie watching.
However, the Aspire V5 shows its low-price roots somewhat by only packing the standard 1,366 x 768 pixel resolution that means watching 1080p is a stretch. We're starting to see more demand for higher resolutions and as Windows 8 arrives and HD content becomes more integrated, the need for HD+ or Full HD displays will grow.
Usability certainly isn't a problem with the Aspire V5. There's a wide keyboard with a numeric keypad, as well as a large multi-touch gesture trackpad. Because of the slimness of the chassis there isn't much travel on the keys, although we didn't find this too much of a problem.
The aforementioned optical drive is a great inclusion and Acer has also found space for three USB ports (one is USB 3.0), an HDMI port and a VGA/Ethernet combo port.
Performance is handled by the second-generation Intel Core i3-2367M, clocked at 1.4GHz. Although this isn't a top-tier CPU, the Aspire V5 gets its impressive speed from 8GB of on-board memory and should handle the transition to Windows 8 smoothly.
Graphics are handled by the integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000 inside the CPU, although there is the option to upgrade to an Nvidia GPU if you want to use graphics-intensive applications.
Acer has included quite a bit of software with the V5, but it's fair to say most of it you won't use and falls firmly into the 'bloatware' category. Mysteriously, Eurosport and Netflix are both given desktop shortcuts, but these are paid-for services that you'll have to sign up for.
Battery life on the Acer Aspire V5 wasn't too impressive at just 186 minutes under extreme testing conditions. However, with responsible usage, you should get an hour or so more when you're out and about.
If you really value portability and speed, but aren't looking to splash the cash on an Ultrabook for Windows 8, then this could be the perfect compromise.