Acer's Aspire E 15, specifically model E5-576G-5762, is an uncommonly good deal. It's even good by Acer's already high standards: The manufacturer has built some of our favorite budget-friendly PCs in the past, including gaming laptop.
The E 15 starts at an attractive $350 for components that are good enough for absolute basics such as email, web apps and streaming video and music, though you may not get away with using them all at the same time. Step up to the $600 configuration reviewed here (which will cost you £649 or roughly AU$775) and you'll get a new eighth-gen Intel Core i5 processor and discrete Nividia GeForce MX150 graphics, something rarely found at this price.
Regardless of the main components, though, you get the same base features across the models. That includes a good full-HD display, a bevy of ports -- new and old -- and even a DVD burner for those still working in the world of physical media. What's more, you can open it up and add more memory and storage. It's hard to say how the laptop will hold up over time, but out of the box, it's an easy recommendation for a home office or a student who can live with its weight and size.
Acer Aspire E 15 (E5-576G-5762)
|Price as reviewed||$600|
|Display size/resolution||15.6-inch 1,920 x 1,080 display|
|CPU||1.6GHz Intel Core i5-8250U|
|PC Memory||8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz|
|Graphics||2GB Nvidia GeForce MX150|
|Networking||802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.2|
|Operating system||Window 10 Home (64-bit)|
But it's only $600...
This Aspire E is the epitome of "bang for your buck." As you might expect, Acer cut some corners to get the price down, but none that are necessarily deal breakers. Like most things, it all comes down to your needs.
For example, it's not an ultraportable or even a thin-and-light laptop and it's made of textured plastic and not metal. At around an inch thick (3cm) and a little more than 5 pounds (2.4 kg), it's not unbearable to carry around, though it's also not something I would want to haul all day. The plastic makes it look and feel less sturdy than an aluminum chassis, but if it's never going to leave your home, that likely doesn't matter.
Instead of a 4K-resolution touchscreen, you'll find a perfectly suitable 15.6-inch full HD display. It's a good screen overall with pleasing color and way better off-angle viewing than you'll typically find at this price. It is, however, dim and while the matte finish means reflections are less an issue, you might find yourself reflexively trying to increase its brightness. Oh, and the bezels that surround the display are wide by today's standards.
The keyboard and Windows Precision touchpad are better than expected for the money, too. Acer squeezed on a full number pad, which is nice, although I'd gladly sacrifice it for a centered keyboard with slightly larger keys. Still, it's a fine typing experience and the keys are evenly backlit. The touchpad is smooth and responsive without being jumpy. It did frequently register my two-finger scroll as a right click until I adjusted its settings, though.