Review: Acer Aspire 5253

 
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Published: February 24, 2011 11:00 PM
By Alexandre Botella
Translated by: Jack Sims
Acer has now released the Aspire 5253, a 15.6-inch notebook with a 1366 x 768 pixel screen, LED backlighting and, above all, an AMD Fusion APU that has just arrived on the market. APU? What's that? Well, an Accelerated Processing Unit is a single chip that groups the graphics (GPU) and processor (CPU) parts within the same physical architecture.

Design and build: like an ultra-portable laptop

Although made entirely from plastic, the Aspire 5253 has a sober and relatively elegant design. However, to the touch it's disappointing. All the plastic parts—both around and under the keyboard—sink in when you press on them. Acer really needs to think about improving the finish on its laptops so as not to put off demanding users. The good news is that only the screen surround (in addition to the screen itself) is glossy, so it's the only area of the laptop that's susceptible to picking up finger prints.

Acer Aspire 5253 review

Otherwise, the keyboard is almost faultless. Typing is supple and quiet. The keys are all where you'd expect them to be and they're correctly proportioned. The only exception is the 'Enter' key, which you sometimes miss when you reach for it just after pressing on the 'Backspace' key. Otherwise, any typing errors are more likely to be down to you than the keyboard!

The multitouch touchpad is good quality and precise, even though we would have liked it to be a good deal bigger. That said, a smooth glide makes it pleasant to use.

Acer Aspire 5253 review - webcamThe webcam image is one of the worst we've seen. Black areas are displayed as a block of colour and movements glitch and lack fluidity. Lighter colours are either dark or underexposed. Anyone buying this laptop should really consider opting for an external webcam too.

To keep the casing as slim as possible (3 cm), Dell has limited connectivity options to the bare essentials. At the front, there's just an SD card reader. On the left, there's a VGA out, an RJ45 (Ethernet) port, an HDMI out, a USB 2.0 port and the mic and headphones sockets. On the right, there's a DVD rewriter and two USB 2.0 ports.

Unless you stick your ear right beside the 5253, you'll have trouble hearing the fan. Temperature levels are well controlled all the same. Even when you work the computer hard, the temperature remains under the 34°C mark.

Acer Aspire 5253 review - heat
Acer Aspire 5253 review - heat sensor

The 5253's temperature readings with the components working hard
Readings taken using a Fluke Ti25 (Distrame) camera

Acer Aspire 5253 review - battery
Underneath, once the panel has been unscrewed

Acer Aspire 5253 review - hood Hood


Acer Aspire 5253 review - connections
  Power, VGA out, RJ45, HDMI out, USB 2.0 port, mic and headphones out 
Acer Aspire 5253 review - DVD drive
USB 2.0 port (x2), DVD burner


Processor power: a big netbook

There's no point expecting to be able to do everything you can do with a standard notebook with the Aspire 5253. Our tests show that the AMD E-Series E-350 processor (CPU index 29) offers slightly better performance than an Intel Atom N550 (CPU index: 24). The Aspire 5253 will therefore be limited to office documents and Internet use. Processing times for more demanding applications are simply too long.

High definition video playback (HD 1080p, Blu-ray equivalent) is no problem as long as you use playback software that supports graphics hardware assisted decoding (recent version of VLC, Media Player Classic HD with the right codecs or Power DVD as of version 9). On its own, the processor part can't take you beyond 720p, and so the graphics hardware is also required (AMD Radeon HD 6310).

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit takes 49 seconds to boot. You'll need to wait another 5 to 10 seconds for the various background applications to start running (antivirus off). It turns off in 18 seconds.

Gaming: limited ability

The Radeon HD 6310 that's integrated into the APU soom shows its limitats. In practice, the Aspire 5253 does reasonably well with a selection of less demanding games, but more recent titles only work with the graphics settings turned right down and, more often than not, at low resolutions. These performances aren't really any better than a netbook with an NVIDIA ION 2nd generation graphics chip.

Audio: where are the speakers?

A single, low-power speaker of average quality is a pretty poor show. Don't expect it to be able to fill your flat with noise, then! The headphones out makes up for things slightly, providing a clean audio signal.

Battery life: a nice surprise!

When it comes to battery life, you're in for a pleasant surprise. The Aspire 5253 lasted 4 hrs 30 sec without switching itself off. It's a match for the MacBook Pro 15-inch, which gives 4 hrs 45 sec under the same conditions (Wi-Fi off, headphones plugged in and brightness at 100 cd/m²).
Unfortunately, even though the casing is slim, the 15.6-inch screen means the 5253 won't slip into your bag easily. In any case, at 2.6 Kg, it's probably a little too heavy to carry around for more than an hour or two.
3/5 Acer Aspire 5253 DigitalVersus 2011-02-25 00:00:00

Pros

  • Battery life: 4 hrs 30 sec of video playback!
  • Good size for a laptop this price

Cons

  • Low contrast screen (251:1) with inaccurate colours
  • Limited processor performance
  • Very limited gaming performance
  • Audio: speaker lacks power

Conclusion

Although it looks like a laptop, the Acer Aspire 5253 is in fact more like a 15.6-inch netbook that's ideal for working with office documents and surfing the web. It also has decent battery life, which is a definite plus point.

OUR SCORE 3/5
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