As a 15.6” laptop, the V5 Touch allows plenty of room for a full sized keyboard, and actually offers a very comfortable typing experience. The keys are backlit if required via an easy F-Key toggle, and I found typing this review on it a pretty happy experience.
The touchpad takes a bit more getting used to. It’s both smooth and a decent size that means that covering the whole screen with the pointer doesn’t require multiple drags, and also that the gesture inputs come naturally, with the computer rarely misinterpreting multi finger strokes. I found that right clicking, by pushing the pad in was a little hard to do consistently, and this will be more of a problem to those used to a trackpad being centred below the keyboard: here, the number pad to the right has meant that Acer have chosen to offset it to the left so it’s just below the keys section of the keyboard.
The V5 has “Dolby Advanced Audio” with “Virtual SurroundSound”. While this does offer distinctive channels for the audio, we still ran into the same problem that most laptops have: the audio quality is tinny, with very little bass and with some distortion evident at higher volumes. Suffice it to say, inserting a decent pair of headphones solves this problem, and this will be most travellers’ solution anyway.
The V5 Touch comes with an integrated front facing 1.3 megapixel webcam for Skype video chat. Pictures are, as you would expect with such a low resolution camera, a bit on the grainy side but it’s perfectly adequate for video calling.
This particular flavour of the V5 Touch (V5-571P-53316G50Mass to its friends) comes with an Intel Core i5 dual-core processor running at 1.7ghz and a generous 6GB of RAM, and as such most of the day to day tasks are smooth as you’d hope. Despite this, it’s not always quite as zippy as you’d imagine with everything: loading applications sometimes delayed longer than we’d hoped for. We’ve probably been spoiled by solid state drives: this model packs a 5400RPM 500gb hard disk: plenty of space for filling up with MP3s, videos, pictures and anything else you fancy, but it will always seem sluggish compared to its SSD rivals.
This isn’t a gaming laptop, and appropriately it packs an Intel HD4000 onboard videocard. Fine for the casual games Acer package with it (hello ‘Cut the Rope’ - lovely with the touch screen), but as you would expect, it will struggle with more resource intensive 3D games. That said, benchmark tests in S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Call of Pripyat averaged a quick playable 25FPS in 720p on medium detail, while we got 55.5 FPS in Trackmania Forever, so don’t rule out 3D gaming entirely.
General Score: 2504
Entertainment Score: 2507
Acer reckons you’ll get around 4-5 hours of battery life from the V5, and our battery test at 40% screen brightness only gave us an outcome of 3 hours 44 minutes. Pretty disappointing, then, but its 2.4kg weight means you probably won’t want to be away from a plug socket for too long a period in any case. That said: with that kind of bulk, we were hoping more of the strain on airport luggage allowances would be taken up with battery, rather than other innards.
Retailing at £600, this flavour of the V5 straddles the ground between Ultrabook and ‘cheap and cheerful’ laptop quite awkwardly. Much of the question of value comes down to what you’re looking for, as clearly much of the cost goes towards the impressive performance of the touch screen, which unquestionably makes Windows 8 a more friendly experience. However, if that’s a feature you’d barely use, then there are alternatives within a similar price bracket that would probably suit you better which offer a zippier everyday performance thanks to a hybrid SSD/HDD approach, such as the Sony VAIO T13, or the Toshiba Satellite U840W, if you can stretch that bit further.
The Acer Aspire V5-571 Touch doesn’t know quite where it fits, it’s not a performance powerhouse but neither is it a budget laptop. The touchscreen functionality, keyboard and trackpad make for a great user experience, but it does feel like corners have been cut to accommodate the premium aspects of the laptop. For £600, we’re not sure all the sacrifices - particularly the mediocre battery and average screen - were always worth it. For basic tasks such as writing and browsing, you’ll be happy enough, but if you’re hoping to navigate Windows 8 using touch you may find some of its rivals offer a smoother experience.