Continuing our coverage of Acer’s Windows 8 offerings, we’re nearing the end of the roadmap with the consumer laptop offerings. This time, Acer is announcing the updated versions of their M Series and V Series laptops, with thinner designs than previous models and of course a new OS to go with the hardware. Starting with the M Series, Acer provided details for two new models, the 14” M5-481PT and the 15.6” M5-581T—both are technically Ultrabooks, though they’re obviously on the larger end of the spectrum. Here are the full specs.

Acer Aspire M5 Windows 8 Ultrabooks
Model M5-481PT M5-581T
Processor Core i5-3317U
(1.7-2.6GHz, 3MB L3)
Core i5-3317U
(1.7-2.6GHz, 3MB L3)
Memory 6GB DDR3 6GB DDR3
Storage 20GB SSD + 500GB HDD 20GB SSD + 500GB HDD
Display 14” Glossy 1366x768 LCD
10-point Multitouch
15.6” Glossy 1366x768 LCD
10-point Multitouch
I/O Ports 2 x USB 3.0
Gigabit Ethernet
Flash Memory Reader
2 x USB 3.0
1 x USB 2.0
Gigabit Ethernet
Flash Memory Reader
Extras DVDRW Drive
Backlit Keyboard
Backlit Keyboard
Battery Up to 8 hours Up to 8 hours
Weight 4.63 lbs. (2.10kg) 5.07 lbs. (2.30kg)
Dimensions 13.39" x 9.65" x 0.81" (WxDxH)
340mm x 245mm x 20.6mm
14.43" x 10.05" x 0.79-0.81" (WxDxH)
367mm x 255mm x 20.1-20.6mm
Operating System Windows 8 Windows 8
Price (MSRP) $800 $700

The core specs are essentially unchanged from the existing M5 models, and the above offerings are apparently Best Buy exclusives (though Acer has a habit of releasing several nearly-identical models with minor changes in the naming, so you’ll probably be able to find the M5 elsewhere). The only major difference between the current M5 and the Windows 8 models—other than the OS, of course—is the addition of 10-point multitouch displays on select models. Sadly, the displays are still 1366x768 TN panels, but at least for touch-enabled displays I find glossy makes the most sense (matte surfaces would tend to show wear over time).

There are a few other items not specifically listed in the specs table that are worth discussing. First, Acer feels there’s a market for larger thin and lights (Ultrabooks) that still include optical drives, and the M series fills that niche. The chassis on the M5 is actually quite nice, with a magnesium/aluminum alloy exterior (the 14” has aluminum alloy covers while the 15.6” uses magnesium alloy covers). Finally, the batteries appear to be better than average, as Acer rates them for up to 1000 cycles and state that they’ll still be able to charge to 80% of their rated capacity beyond 1000 cycles.

It looks like the MSRP is slightly higher than the existing non-touch M5 models by $50 to $100, which may or may not be acceptable. We’re also not particularly keen on the 20GB SSDs, as they’re only used for fast resume—there’s not even a caching benefit to be had! So basically you’ll get standard HDD performance when it comes to loading the OS and applications, but the laptops can resume from sleep/hibernate very quickly. We’d prefer to see pure SSD storage at least as an option on some models, and with high performance TLC SSDs coming out, hopefully the next year will spell the end of conventional storage on the primary drive.

Acer Aspire V5 Windows 8 Laptops
Model V5-171 V5-471P V5-571/571P
Processor Core i3/i5/i7 Core i3/i5/i7 Core i3/i5/i7
Memory 4GB-8GB DDR3 4GB-8GB DDR3 4GB-8GB DDR3
Storage Hard Drive Hard Drive
Optical Drive
Hard Drive
Optical Drive
Display 11.6” Glossy 1366x768 LCD 14” Glossy 1366x768 LCD
(10-point Multitouch on 471P)
15.6” Glossy 1366x768 LCD
(10-point Multitouch on 571P)
I/O Ports 1 x USB 3.0
2 x USB 2.0
Gigabit Ethernet
Flash Memory Reader
1 x USB 3.0
2 x USB 2.0
VGA (via adapter)
Gigabit Ethernet (via adapter)
Flash Memory Reader
1 x USB 3.0
2 x USB 2.0
VGA (via adapter)
Gigabit Ethernet (via adapter)
Flash Memory Reader
Extras Webcam Webcam Webcam
Battery 4-cell, 5 hours 4-cell, 5 hours 4-cell, 5 hours
Weight 3.04 lbs. (1.38kg) 4.63 lbs. (2.10kg) 5.07 lbs. (2.30kg)
Dimensions 11.2" x 8.0" x 1.1" (WxDxH)
284mm x 203mm x 27.9mm
13.5" x 9.6" x 0.9" (WxDxH)
343mm x 244mm x 22.9mm
15.0" x 10.0" x 0.9" (WxDxH)
381mm x 254mm x 22.9mm
Operating System Windows 8 Windows 8 Windows 8
Price (MSRP) $450 $750 $500/$700

The Aspire V5 Series is targeted more at the value end of the spectrum, though the touch-enabled offerings push the limits of what I’d consider “value”. It’s also not clear if all of the V5 laptops will use ULV CPUs, but that appears to be the case as the two models where we received specs (V5-571P-6642 at $800 and V5-517P-6437 at $850) but use the i5-3317U processor.

The overall system design for the V5 looks similar on some levels to the M5 models above, but Acer foregoes the use of metal alloys here and instead uses plastic shells. The port layout is also different, so at the very least they’re not just reusing the design. The larger offerings include optical drives while the 11.6” model is slightly thicker but doesn’t have DVDRW or touch options, but it also has the lowest point of entry at $450 for the base model (presumably with a Core i5 CPU).

The other two models are basically the same hardware options, but the 14” 471P is only available with multitouch (for now) while the 15.6” offering comes is standard and multitouch flavors. Acer quotes the starting price of the 571 at $500 compared to $700 for the touch-enabled 571P, but there are likely other hardware differences as well. Interestingly, both the 14” and 15.6” models use a special Y-cable adapter to provide VGA and Ethernet support whereas it’s integrated into the chassis on the 11.6” model.

Availability of all the Windows 8 laptops will coincide with the October 26 launch date.

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  • xTRICKYxx - Friday, October 12, 2012 - link

    We all see it... The 1366x768 resolution.
  • DanNeely - Friday, October 12, 2012 - link

    Meh. For $1k or more I'd agree; but these are cheap mass market laptops that are priced well below what everything we'd like would cost.

    At vSeries prices in particular, 1366x768 is the right reason. Prices are only about a step or two above garbage grade; the multitouch layer and 5 hr battery (vs 3; assuming their claimed numbers are reasonable) represent the entirety of the additional price.

    Even the M's are still on the cheap side; below $1k you're going to see significant compromises no matter what; in this case a 720p screen and magnetic HDD.
  • StevoLincolnite - Saturday, October 13, 2012 - link

    Eh. No excuse for poor LCD's even in budget laptops. I expect 1366x768 in a netbook or 10" form factor, not screens 50% larger.
    The BOM wouldn't increase much even if they dropped in something like a 1440x900, 1600x900, 1680x1050 panel... Which allot of older systems use to go with before manufacturers got in bed with 1366x768.
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, October 13, 2012 - link

    Keep in mind that if the BoM goes up $10, Acer most likely loses out on $10 of profit -- it's the Best Buys and other large resellers that make the money on PCs and laptops for the most part (except for when you buy direct from the manufacturer). These "Best Buy specials" are probably being sold for $350 or so, and everything above that price is profit for Best Buy.
  • markiz - Sunday, October 14, 2012 - link

    I don't think resellers get more than 10%. And 10% is the extreme.
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, October 14, 2012 - link

    There are a bunch of middle men in retail outlets, but what I can tell you is that most manufacturers have very, VERY small margins, especially on more budget-oriented stuff. This is why you get bloatware: because it's "free" and has no BoM cost, so if Norton pays Dell $1 to preload their AV Suite, that's $1 of profit.

    I've heard from a few sources that most of the time, the profit margins on budget and mainstream laptops is less than $50. But then, there's $50 for the manufacturer, at least $50 for the reseller, another $50 for shipping and handling services, etc. And unfortunately, they're built to a price point (e.g. Best Buy for $600), so if you add even $5 to the BoM, BB won't pay any more than what they initially wanted.

    It's often the big retail chains that are pushing the race to the bottom, and do you know why? Because that's what people buy when they go to the store: the least expensive offering -- Apple users being the major exception. Ultrabooks were an attempt to "fix" this, but so far most users are rejecting the notion of paying that much for a thin and light laptop.
  • Hrel - Thursday, January 3, 2013 - link

    I know from firsthand experience that Best Buy makes between 1% and 15% at full retail price on laptops. They even lose money on them sometimes. The only way they make any money (for all inents and purposes) is on adding a warranty or "service" like clearing the crapware. As to the BoM, yeah, middle men suck. But if Best Buy just agreed to pay 15 bucks more for every lapop then EVERY laptop would use better screens then better screens would drop in price. Thus allowing Best Buy to pay 15 less again. In that interum they could raise the prices 15-25 bucks, tha'ts very little money and would net significant improvements. The only counter argument to that is "consumers are stupid/ignorant". That's right, so if laptop prices go up across the board and laptops get better across the board they won't know till they own them; but they won't have a choice in the matter. In other words, I'm all for FORCING better quality on people so long as that increase in cost and more importantly profit margins don't balloon out of control. IE Apple.
  • B3an - Friday, October 12, 2012 - link

    For the price it's acceptable. The rest of the hardware is decent and you get a multi-touch display. All in all i think it's pretty good.
  • Znarkus - Friday, October 19, 2012 - link

    Amazing how they're using that resolution regardless of screen size, 11" to 15".
  • skiboysteve - Friday, October 12, 2012 - link

    acer look at what every one of your competition is doing.

    you're offering:
    -optical drives when no one wants to lug one around or pay for it in space or dollars
    -low resolution screens
    -thick bodies made of plastic
    -small or non existent flash storage
    -crappy battery life (and where are the connected standby numbers?)
    -no display port

    I realizes your prices are "low" but what is different about these machines now and the ones you sold years ago? nothing. same crap new os and new intel chips.... while everyone else is innovating.

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