Thanks to SaveOnLaptops.co.uk for this review sample.
Laptops are the most-sold computers, and 15.6in models are the most-sold laptops. Thus it follows that there are an awful lot of 15.6in laptops around, and many of them are, to put it nicely, somewhat interchangeable. Some manufacturers give them a metal shell, others count on design or colours, and of course the range of connectivity and quality of components like the screen and speakers do differentiate them. But when you get right down to it, few manage to offer something truly unique. However, Acer's new Aspire Ethos does manage to stand out from the crowd. Its killer feature? A rather nifty removable touchpad that can act as a remote control and wireless mouse.
We previously saw an idea much like this on Acer's media-centric Aspire Revo 100, but there the remote combined a touchpad and keyboard. Here, it's a stationary touchpad during normal laptop use, and a remote when browsing on a large screen or watching movies/listening to music from a distance. Not only does it offer multimedia controls, but you can still use it as a 'mouse' too.
Clever as the removable pad is, it's not all that makes the Ethos 5951G interesting. We also have a fetching durable aluminium lid and keyboard surround, powerful specifications (including a 'Sandy Bridge' Core i5, 8GB of RAM and discrete graphics), as well as – surprising on a desktop replacement like this – good battery life. Is it the multimedia laptop for you?
Coming in at just under £900, the Ethos is firmly in premium laptop territory, and that's apparent from its build without even opening it up. Apart from a glossy black lip at the front, the entire lid is brushed black aluminium. While you can see fingerprints on this finish, they're less visible than on glossy plastic, and it's both more durable and easier to maintain.
Opening the beast up, its insides are adorned with a variety of finishes and textures. While we would have preferred a slightly more cohesive look, at least the materials used complement each other nicely. The screen features a gorgeous seamless bezel with a single sheet of glass across the front which does, however, result in lots of annoying reflections.
The hinge is smooth matt plastic, also used on the palm-rests and touchpad buttons, while the speaker grille and immediate keyboard surround are aluminium. The touchpad itself is glossy black plastic, though the cavity it leaves once removed is matt like its surrounds. Etched-metal power and control buttons are found to either side of a silver metallic strip that highlights the laptop's Dolby audio processing.
Build quality is simply excellent. In fact, it's easily the best-built Acer laptop we've had through our labs. There's not a hint of creaking or unwanted give anywhere and all the plastics used feel firm. Even premium laptops often suffer from varying degrees of keyboard flex, so it's nice to find that on the Ethos everything is absolutely rock-solid. Mind you, it also weighs quite a bit at 3.3kg, reaffirming its status as a desktop replacement.