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We’ve got a lot of readers asking us about good laptops under the 30K price tag. Well, it has been hard to really recommend a particular product owing to a variety of reasons: consumers want ‘good enough’ specs at a good price, while the laptops come with a relatively outdated configuration and build tradeoffs, which makes us not want to recommend them. However, exceptions exist, and Acer has come up with the Aspire E1-571 notebook which fits snugly under the 30K price mark. But, does it pass the price - spec - usability conundrum that most laptops in this price range get trapped in? Let’s find out.



Design and Build Quality

The 571 has a glossy black exterior with a dual tone silver and crystallized black finish in its open state. Not many models at this price tag have a superlative finish and feel to it, and the 571 gets brownie points for that. There’s no metal in the construction but that doesn’t take away from the aesthetic feel of the notebook. The area below the keyboard is smooth and facilitates typing with ample arm-rest space. We would have loved it if the crystallized matte finish would have extended around the display and the exterior as well.

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Connectivity options




The E1-571 has a 15.6-inch display with a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels and a webcam on top. The bottom chassis consists of a speaker grill above the full-sized keyboard which comes with a numpad too. The keys seem a little cramped though. The keyboard also has dedicated Pound and Dollar keys located just above the directional keys. The power button is located next to the speaker grill. On the left, we have the adapter slot, a Gigabit Ethernet port, the heat sink, a VGA port, an HDMI slot, a USB 2.0 port and the mic and headphone slots. The right houses the DVD writer, the Kensington lock and two USB 2.0 ports. The 571 comes with a removable battery.

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No USB 3.0




Unfortunately, this device doesn’t come with any USB 3.0 ports, eSATA ports or a backlit keyboard. The status indicators and the SD card slots are located towards the front.



The E1-571 doesn’t have a scratch-resistant body, and at 2.6 Kg, it's not the lightest laptop around. But that’s the tradeoff at this price point. The hinges are reinforced and both the screen frame and the chassis look firm and sturdy. There is little play when the lid opens, but the hinges are pretty tough to survive that occasional drop. The LCD panel doesn’t have any flex either. The buttons on the keyboard have a good, tactile feel to them but we’d have preferred a chiclet keyboard. As far as ergonomics are concerned, the trackpad is located off centre and doesn’t come in the way when typing. Overall, the Aspire feels like a very solid product.



Features

In terms of hardware, the Aspire E1 - 571 is better configured than the other budget laptop by Acer we reviewed a while ago - the V5. The E1 is powered by an Intel Core i3 - 2350M processor running a clock speed of 2.3GHz, which is a tad faster than the Core i3 2330M processor found on most other entry-level notebooks. Graphics and video are taken care of by Intel’s HD 3000 integrated graphics solution, which is good enough for very basic gaming and HD video playback. The notebook has 2GB of RAM a sufficiently large 500 GB hard drive.

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Not chiclet styled




It’s not like Acer doesn’t bundle any operating system either; the E1 comes with a copy of Windows 7 Home Basic pre-installed. You don’t get some of the premium features such as USB 3.0 but you do get three USB 2.0 ports. Bluetooth and WiFi are standard as well. All in all, it’s really well spec’d in comparison to the competition, which typically offers a slower processor or a smaller hard disk drive.

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