Conclusion: Almost There

This is the most impressed I've been with an Acer notebook in some time. Most of my usual whipping boys have been taken care of, and I'm left with an ultrabook that's for the most part very usable. 

We're pretty fond of the saying "there's no such thing as a bad product, only a bad price" around here, and that holds very true with the S5. The performance and features are largely here: a fast, ultra low voltage processor, coupled with USB 3.0 connectivity, HDMI, and even Thunderbolt. However skeptical you might be of striped SSDs (and I certainly am), you can't deny that the end result is a remarkably fast storage subsystem. The chassis' portability is something to be excited about as well. Building a good notebook is always a balancing act, trying to figure out what you're willing to sacrifice and what you have to have, and this is where I think Acer dropped the ball.

The Aspire S5 isn't a bad looking notebook, but in some ways it's lackluster compared to the competition. The more you look at it and use it, the cheaper it feels. Couple that with the awful display, and suddenly you begin to feel like the majority of the price bloat you're paying is going towards the motorized trap door and the Thunderbolt connectivity. The door is a cool idea and Thunderbolt may very well become incredibly important as time goes on, but why couldn't Acer have just gone whole hog and spent the extra $40 or $50 a unit to put a halfway decent display inside?

As it stands, it seems we may yet be continuing to search for the perfect ultrabook. The ASUS Zenbook Primes are less expensive than the S5 and feature much better quality displays, but you lose out on Acer's stellar cooling performance and Thunderbolt connectivity. More than that, Acer's design is going to be a hair thinner and lighter than anything their competition has come up with. We'd hoped the ultrabooks to buy would be in this generation, but so far it looks like we're just not there yet. In the meantime, though, if you're willing to make the compromises and the price tag doesn't scare you off, the S5 might be one of the most forward-looking ultrabooks yet available.

Battery, Heat, and Screen Performance
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  • StevoLincolnite - Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - link

    If only I could have a dollar for every potentially decent notebook that had a crap display. Reply
  • SteveTheWalrus - Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - link

    I just don't understand how they can justify the $1,400 dollar price tag with this display. and not just resolution, but color and contrast are probably just as dismal.

    The inclusion of a TB port isn't even a factor for the vast majority of people, and i have a feeling most Ultrabooks out later this year ( like around when windows 8 launches) with have one anyways( and some of those will have better screen, with the added possibility of having touch screens)
    Reply
  • Malih - Thursday, July 12, 2012 - link

    funny how these manufacturers send their laptops to AnandTech, but doesn't seem to read/understand a single word from the conclusions and/or comments

    ...or probably in 2010 somebody thinks this is the display of the future and decided to produce 7 years worth of 768p displays.
    Reply
  • wetwareinterface - Sunday, July 15, 2012 - link

    they can justify it because most people don't honestly care or understand about screen resolution vs. size of the panel. I sell laptops for a living at a fairly large retailer and only one cutomer out of untold thousands has ever asked me for a quality display as a must have. they do it because they can and as a whole the industry is also not offering high res panels. there's the ips 1080p in the ~$1000 sony (which has crap specs otherwise) and the new asus prime...

    why should acer (a manufacturer who's whole laptop business is built around cutting every corner they can to squeeze profit from a piece of crap machine) put a high res panel in a laptop? further why is the reviewer even going on about acer not doing so? they never put good anything in a product except for the few items they produce simply as showcase pieces for trade shows, which end up nearly impossible to get in retail due to limited supply...
    Reply
  • bennyg - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    a) your average person who shops at a retailer (!! people still do that?) wouldn't read tech sites like anandtech
    b) fair enough that Acer costcut but this isn't a bargain basement model, its more $$ than the prime.
    c) why would Acer even bother sending a review unit to a site full of people who bag out every crap 768p TN panel ever reviewed.

    Chewbacca.
    Reply
  • processinfo - Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - link

    Exacly. I stopped reading at "13.3" LED Glossy 16:9 768p". Sad. Reply
  • magreen - Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - link

    Stopped reading at 768p.

    Also a big "huh?" over the 4GB memory maximum.
    Reply
  • Voldenuit - Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - link

    Truth. And that's a 1280x768 *TN screen*.

    In a $1,400 laptop.

    What.
    The.
    Fudge.

    AT needs to call out manufacturers for fobbing junk on users.
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - link

    If you stop reading the article, then you miss the part where we call out manufacturers for fobbing junk on users. Reply
  • Voldenuit - Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - link

    A conclusion heading of 'Almost There' counts as calling out Acer?

    'Overpriced crap' or 'Not even close' might have been a more appropriate epithet.

    The conclusion page also seems to have difficulty deciding where it lands. On the one hand, you state that it is the most impressed you have been with an Acer product (admittedly not a company held to, or expected of high standards). Yet despite the numerous bad marks against it (lousy display, high price, poor build quality, soldered components), you refrain from calling it the overpriced piece of junk that it is.
    Reply

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