Sporting an all-plastic body, we can't say the Aspire V5-122P is starting out on a good foot. The plastic doesn't smudge easily, it's true, but it doesn't give off the most elegant vibes, either. The bottom half of the chassis is offset with black plastic, only confirming our bad first impression.
The keyboard has chiclet keys with a slack, flabby stroke. Your fingers seem to stick to the keys so much that it gets laborious to type on. The only positive thing here is the backlighting, only it isn't adjustable. Like most computers this size, the touchpad is only 9 x 5 cm. That's small, but it's precise and responsive enough not to make it too much of a handicap. It recognises only a bare minimum of commands, such as zooming, scrolling and the Windows 8 touch gestures.
Yet again we find a touchscreen that serves no real purpose, in our opinion. Touch functionality comes in handy in the Start Menu interface, but much less so on the classic Windows desktop. After all, standard laptop designs don't particularly beckon your fingers to reach up and tap and swipe on the screen.
As to be expected with an 11.6-inch laptop, there isn't much connectivity: just a USB 3.0 port, a USB 2.0 port, a mini-RJ45 Ethernet port (adapter included), a headphone/microphone combo jack and an SD card reader. That's not much—just about the same as the 11" MacBook Air.
The Aspire V5-122P goes against the grain for laptop computers, in that the display is actually the strong point, whereas usually it's the weakest. The display is an IPS touchscreen with 1366 x 768 pixels, a technology that offers better viewing angles than TN panels.
The viewing angles are even further aided by the 1,350:1 contrast, which is quite simply one of the best ratios we've seen on a notebook. However, the brightness is 200 cd/m² at most, making the screen subject to reflections and glare when you have the lights on.
The colour fidelity is acceptable, I guess, with a Delta E of 5 (the ideal figure being 3 or less), but the colour temperature is nearly perfect at 6,300 K.
There's nothing to say about the sound through the headphone jack. It's high in fidelity, dynamic, has a good stereo image and is loud enough to feed most external speaker systems.
The built-in speakers completely lack sound at both extremities of the spectrum (lows and highs) and has low volume that thankfully helps it avoid over-saturation.
Configuration:The model we were sent to review features an AMD A6-1450 processor, 6 GB of RAM, an AMD Radeon HD 8210 video chipset and a 500 GB hard drive. Everything mentioned above refers to all versions of the Acer Aspire V5-122P, whereas the sections below apply only to the model we tested (see inset below).
The AMD A6-1450 processor is extremely low in performance. It got a score of 35 in our in-house rating system (the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite has the same CPU and got 43, which we already thought was low). Any task that requires even the slightest amount of processing power will take time.
Comparing this to the similarly rated Sony Vaio Fit 15E, which has an Intel Core i3-3217U, it took this Acer almost three times as long (1 hour and 20 minutes) to perform our standard tests as the Sony (30 minutes).
The AMD Radeon HD 8210 graphics chipset (3DMark06: 2542) is no gamer's ally. Games that don't require much power, like FIFA 13, run fine with acceptable detail in the screen's native resolution, but that's about it. Don't even think about running something like Crysis 3, or your computer might explode.
Mobility / Battery Life
The Acer Aspire V5-122P holds out for 3½ hours of video playback (in airplane mode with the screen brightness at 100 cd/m², the keyboard backlighting turned off and headphones plugged in). That isn't much for a laptop, but at least it matches what Acer says. Not all brands would be so honest.
This isn't the lightest 11-incher out there (it weighs 1.4 kg, compared to the MacBook Air's 1.08 kg), but it will fit easily into a backpack or large purse.
- Good screen
- Clean audio
- Backlit keyboard
- Very mediocre performance
- Low battery life
The Acer Aspire V5-122P reminds us of the long-departed netbook, both for its body and its performance. Even the battery is disappointing. It's an even greater shame given that for once we find a laptop with a decent screen. For the over £350 that our model costs, you might as well get a tablet.