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Acer Aspire S5 review

The world's thinnest Ultrabook packs power and style

Acer Aspire S5 review
The Acer Aspire S5 is currently the thinnest Ultrabook available

The world's thinnest Ultrabook doesn't scrimp on power or usability, and this is a real play to the high end for Acer, a manufacturer that has often focused on mass-production for the low-cost end of the market. It's easy to fall in love with the Acer Aspire S5, and it enjoys a real injection of personality that will turn heads and attract admiring glances.

However, the move to the quality end of the market has produced some issues, and when you charge £1,249.99/$1,399.99 for your laptop, you open yourself up to criticism when shortcomings appear. Stingy storage is a problem, and we'd like to see a 256GB SSD at this price. If you're planning to use this as your main machine, having the increased capacity is a must.

The second problem is build quality. Issues with our review sample put a question mark over the durability of the Acer Aspire S5. Our sample was replaced with a fully functioning model with no extra problems, but the fact remains that the slim body and the motorized hatch make this less durable that its competitors.

Would we trade an extra 100g and 3mm of chassis thickness to plug our USB sticks into the side? The answer to that is yes.

We liked

The marriage of portability and power shows how far the laptop market has come since the first MacBook Air, and for the first time, you can have a main laptop that's small, slim and light. We love the power on display here, and wouldn't settle for any less than Ivy Bridge Intel Core i7 performance.

The screen is another highlight, and while the Aspire S5 packs a lower resolution than many of its competitors, it's bright and pleasing - and one of the best you'll find on an ultra-portable laptop.

We disliked

While the motorised MagicFlip I/O port is one of the neatest features of the Acer Aspire S5, in the long term it's more of a hindrance. It's a cool way of making a world-beating ultra-thin laptop, but in daily use, it can get tiresome.

Storage is another bugbear, and when you pay top bucks for a laptop, we'd expect to find more than a 128GB SSD. Size does play a part here, but if Apple can bring itself to offer 256GB on a similarly priced model, we'd have thought Acer's huge production juggernaught could have managed the same feat.

Final verdict

The Acer Aspire S5 is one of the top ultra-portable laptops, packing genuine power. If you're looking for a primary laptop that can handle the rigours of everyday life, but be as light and svelte as humanly possible, you've found your ideal laptop.

Be warned, however. The niggles and inconvenience of the MagicFlip hatch, the slightly dubious durability and average specifications - aside from the magnificent processor - mean that the buyer who wants it all might be advised to suffer a few more grams.