Acer Aspire E15 (2014) review

Going big and inexpensive yields mixed results

Acer Aspire E15 review

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The Acer E15 is what I'd call a jack of all trades computer. It's not a champ at anything in particular, but it can suffice for most needs. Basically, this is exactly what one should expect when unable to spend more than $500.

We liked

This isn't a gaming machine, but it's performance under our tests (except for the incredibly challenging Fire Strike) showed a capability to satisfy casual gamers. This is great for when you're tired of working on spreadsheets and powerpoint documents.

The battery, though, stands out from my own testing. While my personal results were a hair or two shy of the advertised six hours, the vast majority of my battery testing ran with video streaming, mixing live feeds with both TV and movies on Netflix.

Employees handed this computer by their IT departments should feel fortunate. While the Aspire E15 isn't flashy an extreme power machine, it is reliable for day to day activities. That makes this laptop an ideal choice for businesses that can't afford more luxurious options.

We disliked

I wasn't exactly surprised that the trackpad had issues or that the screen wasn't crystal clear. From the off-center keyboard to a screen that needs to be positioned just right, there will be a few growing pains for owners of this machine. And those who have worked with a Retina (or comparable) display frequently will take a while to adjust to the downgrade.

The materials of the computer, as solid as they are, are incredibly smudge-prone. If you want to keep this laptop clean of signs of handling, you're going to need some cleaning supplies.

The bloatware, something I've now experienced often enough to become jaded, is still something of a problem if you come to this computer with your solutions in hand. I don't think any family or IT department is excited to run their workflows through Acer's family of apps. It's kind of like all the useless services your telecom throws at you. This is especially in regard to the hectoring popups you'll get from McAfee until you use the Add and Remove Programs tool, like I did, to rid yourself of the nuisance.

Final verdict

A perfectly suitable computer for those who want a reliable and modest solution, the E15 sets a respectable mark for the budget end of the spectrum of 15.6-inch notebooks. Sure, a Chromebook may be able to give a better screen and a smaller body, but a lot of offices demand a strict adherence to the Microsoft Office ecosystem, which those cannot help you with.

The E15's competitors each have a standout feature that may swing some users eyes, but unless all you need is the gaming performance from the Lenovo Z40 is or the DVD drive from the Aspire E5, those models are inconsequential to your decision.

This is the kind of computer you purchase not out of desire, but of necessity. It will help you get your work done – without any extra peripherals – and you'll be able to unwind when it's over, all on the same battery charge. As a budget laptop for customers whose work depends on spreadsheets, the Acer Aspire E15 is a strong option.