We don’t talk much about laptops these days. All the conversation about computing seems to be centred around smartphones and tablets. But there are still lots of people who are picking up their first laptops, especially in a country like India. College students, for instance, need a proper computer with a keyboard and an optical disc drive to do much of their work. The tablet falls short of much of their needs. But is it possible to buy a good functional laptop for the price of a tablet? I think I have found the answer in the new Acer Aspire E15.
Design: The E15 is a large laptop with a 15.6-inch screen, the type that has started becoming rare these days. But this means the laptop is ideal for those who need a lot of real estate to work on —for instance, those working on design needs and research. However, despite the size, the E15 is far from bulky. Yes, it is heavy at 2.4 kg, but it is relatively slim with a maximum height of 27.15 mm.
The review unit I got was all-black with a matte finished body. The wrist rest and the rear of the clamshell had a perforated texture. The trackpad is at the same level as the keys, while the keyboard itself was housed a level below. There is just one power button outside the keyboard, and this makes the design uncomplicated and simple.
The full size fine-tip keyboard is good to work on with just the right amount of travel on the keys. However, I found the edges of the laptop to be a bit too sharp and my wrists felt strained after I had written a 500-word piece using the E15. You might need to pad up this sharp edge if you want to use the computer for long hours. The ports are all in the rear, just under the screen. The lower half of the clamshell rises up towards the screen to accommodate all the HDMI, LAN and two USB ports. Even power point is at the rear.
Display: The HD display is good for all types of uses and does not have much glare. No, it is not a touchscreen and there is no FullHD, but then this is a budget laptop.
Performance: The E15, for obvious reasons, is not powered by a Intel Core i3 or i5 processor. What it has is the Bay Trail based Intel Celeron N2830 processor, which has better power efficiency than third generation Core i3 processors, but might be a bit lacking when it comes to processing and overall features. However, for the price point this offers a good value proposition. It is not as fast as the latest Core i3 processors and will groan a bit if pushed to the limit as I discovered by browsing the web using the Chrome and over a dozen tabs running. But I was pleased to see the laptop remains cool even under pressure. This one won’t trouble you much if you are doing regular stuff, but it is not built for anything more tiresome. The E15 starts up really quickly and wakes up from sleep in under 10 seconds.
Verdict: If you are looking for a very affordable, full function laptop then the Acer Aspire E15 is definitely a good option. I would recommend this for high school and college students, but not for those who are looking for a business laptop. But yes this costs just as much, or even lower than a lot of tablets and if you are looking to be productive then the E15 might prove to be the better bet.
Estimated street price: Rs 20,261