Top positive review
33 people found this helpful
Ahead of the game
on 7 December 2012
This is an excellent laptop by Acer.
We've had a 17" screen Toshiba Equium P200 since 2007, running Vista. We've mainly used it for the net, movies and Microsoft Office type tasks. It's started failing us in the last year, though, including not being able to handle HD movies, so it was time to upgrade. We wanted something which could do all the same tasks, but obviously better, while also being lighter, more compact and of a reasonable price (£600 max).
Having been out of the laptop buying scene for 5 years, we got started in PC World. I'd heard that Windows 8 was designed to work best with touchscreens, but I hadn't heard of a touchscreen laptop until we saw a couple in the store. However, there was only about three different types to look at and they were either too small, too expensive or both. To be honest, I was surprised, with the recent launch of Windows 8 and with the run-up to Christmas upon us, that manufacturers hadn't rushed out a greater range of touchscreen models. Why invest in something running a touch-orientated operating system if it doesn't have the features to take full advantage of it? In fact, I've read in a few places that Windows 8 is only an improvement over Windows 7 if you do have a touchscreen.
So we got on the net and the only machine out there right now with a 15.6" touchscreen, as well as all the other usual features you'd want for home use (i3 or i5 processor, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD etc), and all at an affordable price, is this Acer. We didn't have any experience of Acer before and I'd always just thought they were a low-end budget brand, so we weren't sure initially whether it would be a wise buy. But we did some research, read other reviews and took the risk.
Well, we've had it a week now and we're not disappointed. In fact, we're delighted with it. It's a nice looking machine in matt silver. Nothing fancy, but nothing to be ashamed of either. Compared with our Toshiba, it's also very slim and light. With battery attached, it weighs in at about 2.4kg, which is about a kilo lighter than the old brick. We also like that the battery is easily detachable from the back. That means you could choose to only attach it when you need to be mobile (which would also increase its lifespan), or you could also buy a second battery to carry with you as a backup; which might be sensible if you're mobile a lot, as the battery only lasts about 3.5 hours. That's fine for our needs, but won't be for everyone.
Booting the thing up is fast, though that's largely due to Windows 8 improvements. It's also been easily capable enough of running everything we've thrown at it so far. A couple of reviews mention about screen resolution and brightness. I can see that the screen could be a bit brighter and more vivid, but I don't find myself wishing that it was. It's a nice screen and works fine. I also think the resolution's fine. Everything's crisp and clear. The backlit keyboard's a really nice touch and seems often only found on more expensive models. You can also turn the backlighting on and off easily.
The laptop has good connectivity, with a USB 3.0 port, HDMI and all the usual suspects. It also has a DVD-RW drive, which is not a given any more, especially with a machine this slim. And the touchpad works fine. Probably not the best out there, but it does everything it's told, once you get used to its sensitivity.
Which finally brings me to the touchscreen. We love it. We don't use it all the time, but we do use it a lot because of the way Windows 8 is set up. And because it's fun! It just makes the machine that much easier to interact with and it's particularly good for multimedia purposes and games. All the apps coming out for Windows 8 are designed for touch interaction and, though you can access most of that functionality through a good touchpad, it's still not the same. I'd be surprised if most laptops are not touchscreen within a year.
And as for tired arms? It's a factor. I find it's easier to use touch interaction when the laptop's on a desk/table, because then the table supports your elbows. When it's on your lap, there's obviously more chance of fatigue. But it also depends on what you're doing. Most tasks with a mouse don't involve constant mouse use and neither do you find you're always touching the screen. For more intensive interactive activities, fatigue might start setting in, but then for that you'd be best being sat at a desk or finding some other way of interacting with it. Once you get used to the feature being there, though, you will use it. Even just after a week, I'm already finding it a bit frustrating to sit back down to the old Toshiba and to not be able to interact with it more directly.
So, if you're looking for a good all-rounder laptop at a very reasonable price, I'd look no further. Well done Acer, you're ahead of the game right now.