It might not look like much at first glance and it might be a bit outdated, especially compared to the more modern version of the Acer Aspire E15. It manages to compensate for this with a fabric-like pattern that adds a grippy texture, but there is no doubting the plastic feel of the notebook when you pick it up.
Add in how empty the optical drive slot feels (if you opt out of getting one), and the Aspire E 15 ends up with an almost toy-like quality to it.
The Acer Aspire E 15’s charcoal exterior and white interior has an attractive minimalist aesthetic. However, we wish that it came in all black, or even a solid metallic color. Anything but white, since it gets smudged up so easily.
However, there is a lot more to the system once you sit down with it.
Fortunately, there's a lot more going on under the hood that compensates for the notebook's toy-like feel. There is a fast 2.4GHz Intel Core i7 CPU, a whopping 16GB of memory, a 1TB hard drive, and a 15.6-inch screen that supports 1,920 x 1,080 resolution. Furthermore, the system has a discrete Nvidia GeForce 940M video processor to play some games.
It isn’t always powerful enough to crank gaming settings up all the way, but it's adequate enough to play games like Civilization Beyond Earth and even Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare at medium to low settings. Colorful games, like Ori and the Blind Forest, render spectacularly on the glare-proof screen.
Unfortunately, the screen has terrible viewing angles. Unless you're looking straight on, the picture ends up looking distorted and washed out. Even looking at the screen a few degrees off center brings out the worst in this display. It's just good enough for watching movies while only shifting slightly in your seat, so this isn't a notebook to use on flights.
Additionally, the downward firing speakers need a solid surface to bounce sound off of, which limits where you can place the laptop and how you use it. We could hardly hear anything with the notebook resting on our lap.
A granite countertop works a lot better, but even then, we had to turn the volume up all the way to watch Netflix. There isn't much bass to speak of either, so you’ll definitely need headphones or an external speaker to go with this system.
Fortunately, the chiclet keyboard is relatively comfortable to type on, even though the keys were a tad small for our taste – especially the top row of function buttons. There's a numeric keypad, which is a welcome feature, but it pushes the Home keys into the tiny top row, where it's easy to accidentally hit the other keys. Also, the keys aren’t backlit, so the laptop’s usability takes a major dip in dark environments.