Acer Aspire E5-551: Keyboard & Trackpad
The no-nonsense Chiclet-style keyboard has a good layout – the keys are all large enough, and there’s enough room for a separate number-pad. The base is firm, too, which always helps.
The keys have more travel than the shallow units on the Lenovo and Toshiba machines, and they’ve got a soft action that lends itself to rapid work. We weren’t entirely satisfied, though: some keys required a surprisingly firm tap to register a response, which meant our more delicate action resulted in skipped characters.
The trackpad is huge, and its buttons are excellent – snappy and light. Out of the box the pad itself was far too sensitive, but that’s easily fixed in the Control Panel. Our only issue is its location on the laptop; it’s on the left-hand side, which meant our hands occasionally jogged the cursor when typing.
Other things to consider
This £430 model is joined by a cheaper variant that’ll set you back £399. That £30 saving nets you a laptop with an AMD A8-7100 processor. The lesser chip is clocked to 1.8GHz – 100MHz less than the A10 model inside our sample – and its 3GHz Turbo top speed is 200MHz slower.
Elsewhere, the cheaper system is exactly the same: 8GB of RAM, a 1TB hard disk, and a 15.6in 1,366 x 768 screen.
No matter which specification you’ll buy, the laptop will be saddled with plenty of unwanted software. Our review sample hasn’t been shy about popping up prompts for McAfee Internet Security and the Acer Portal cloud services.
Elsewhere, the desktop is cluttered with shortcuts to websites, and there are apps from firms like CyberLink and WildTangent that we’re just not going to use. Thankfully, none of this software is tricky to remove.
Should I Buy the Acer Aspire E5-551?
We think that £430 is a large enough budget for firms to build a basic laptop that ticks most of the important boxes, and the Acer Aspire ticks most of the boxes – but only just.
Its AMD APU is stronger than the silicon inside its rivals when it comes to applications and gaming, but it’s still only a modest part that’ll handle nothing more than basic computing and low-end games.
The keyboard and trackpad are acceptable, and the screen is usable – but a lack of quality and resolution precludes this panel from serious work. The exterior is sturdy, but it’s heavier and thicker than the competition.
This is a reasonable notebook that will suffice for the new school term, but it’s worth considering the alternative – machines like Lenovo’s IdeaPad Yoga 2 11 are smaller, but they’re also lighter, more versatile and more affordable.
This laptop’s AMD APU gives it a little more power than its rivals, and it’s a well-built system with acceptable ergonomics. The screen is poor, though, and it’s heavier and chunkier than the competition. Only consider this budget option if its rivals are too small or expensive.
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Score in detail
Screen Quality 4
Build Quality 7
Heat & Noise 9
Battery Life 5