When I first laid my hands on Acer’s Aspire S5 Ultrabook, I thought “wow, this is one slim ultrabook!” Indeed, the S5 is only about 11 mm thick, which makes it the thinnest ultrabook I’ve seen until this point. Surely the small form factor is one of the biggest hooks of the S5, and anyone looking for something extremely portable needs to consider this one.
The S5 uses what’s called the MagicFlip – a motorized port that opens up underneath the unit to reveal ports for HDMI, Thunderbolt, (VGA via included adaptor) and 2 USB 3.0 Ports. My main concern with the MagicFlip however, is that being mechanical, accidentally leaning on it while it’s moving or somehow breaking the motor would cause a problem in that you’d lose access to the ports. While I dig its ability to make the ultrabook thinner, I wouldn’t have had a problem with simply having the ports at my disposal on the side.
While I like its thinness, I’m more impressed by quickness in which the S5 boots up. Within 3 seconds, you’re already up and running, which really comes in handy when you’re in a hurry and it was able to connect to my wireless router in a snap. The Aspire S5 boasts an intel i7 dual-core processor at 1.9 GHz and utilizes a 256 GB SSD with 4GB of RAM.
Coming with a 13.3” HD screen, I was a little underwhelmed by its 1366 x 768 resolution, and would’ve liked to see it a bit higher. Images looked clear, but the lower resolution, compared to other ultrabooks was evident. I also noticed that even at its highest level, the screen wasn’t as bright as I would’ve liked, which was fine for using it in low lighting, but not so much in daylight.
Which brings me to the keyboard. I liked its layout, the size of the keys and it’s responsiveness. Typing on the S5 felt nice and putting together a few Word documents was quite comfortable. That being said, the keys are not backlit which is a HUGE oversight and inexcusable for an ultrabook in this price rage. The multi-gesture touchpad worked for the most part, though I didn’t find it as responsive as a few other ultrabooks and Macbooks I’ve tested.
Using a 3-cell battery, I found the S5 to last me a little over 4.5 hours before the battery needed a recharge. It’s not bad, but it’s also not that great, and would have expected it to last twice as long. One area where it did shine however, was in its audio quality. Using Dolby Home Theater v4 audio, I enjoyed it’s output when watching movies, shows and playing games. Of course the S5 uses an integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000 chip, which was fine for some RTS, point and click games and other titles that weren’t as graphics heavy but don’t expect to be playing Battlefield 3 or Skyrim anytime soon.
The unit I tested came with the 64-bit version of Windows 7, but Acer has since pre-loaded Windows 8 64-bit on any new models.
Acer sells the Aspire S5 on their website for $1049.99, while I’ve seen it at $999.99 at online retailers. With a super slim form factor and a comfortable keyboard, this is a fine ultrabook to have at your disposal, though for a future update of the line, I’d like to see some backlit keys and a higher resolution screen.