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While Intel ramps up the Ultrabook hype with a marketing blitz that includes this, let's not forget that most of these ultrathin laptops aren't that affordable yet. The bread-and-butter of the industry are the entry-level and mainstream notebooks that typically dominate .

If you have been keeping track of this list, you would know that Acer has been a constant presence due to its price-competitive laptops. We daresay that the new Acer Aspire V3-471G will likely end up on this chart sometime in the near-future. After all, it is an affordable 14-inch notebook with the latest hardware, such as an Ivy Bridge quad-core Core i7 chip with 8GB of RAM and a midrange Nvidia GeForce GT 640M.

But don't expect it to be slim and light. The plastic chassis is predictably chunky--it does contain an optical drive--and the design is bland. Acer has gone for a nondescript housing for the hardware. The screen is nothing fancy either, but with a S$1,198 price tag, one can't really expect too much.

The Acer Aspire V3 (14- and 15.6-inch variants) is available now in Singapore and appears to be shipping in Japan, too. We have yet to receive word on when this laptop will go on sale in other parts of Asia.

DesignEdit

You can describe the V3's design with one word: Functional. With a glossy, single-color plastic lid (our review unit is in champagne gold), it looks identical to a number of mainstream 14-inch laptops. If you remove the Acer logo, you're unlikely to guess the brand. There's no attempt to jazz it up with a textured or metallic finish.

Open up the laptop and you're facing a glossy display surrounded by thick black bezels--give it a month and they will be covered by unsightly fingerprint smudges. The palmrest is slightly raised, which is similar to what we found on the HP Envy 14 Spectre, though in the case of the V3, it doesn't feel as jarring as on the Spectre. Personally, we think that it's because the Acer already looks busy and cluttered, while the clean lines of the Spectre were broken by its elevated palmrest.

Specifications as reviewed Acer Aspire V3-471G
Price as reviewed S$1,198
Processor Intel Core i7-3610QM (2.3GHz)
Memory 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3
Storage 750GB HDD
Chipset Intel HM77
Graphics Nvidia GeForce GT 640M 2GB DDR3
Operating system Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium
Dimensions (WD) 342 x 245mm
Height 33.4mm
Screen size (diagonal) 14-inch
System weight 2.25kg
Category Mainstream

The chiclet keyboard doesn't come with backlighting and the key arrangements are similar to other recent Acer laptops. The arrow keys can be a bit small, which isn't ideal, especially as they are also used to adjust the screen brightness and volume--Acer obviously hasn't gotten the memo from vendors such as Apple and HP about reversing the Function keys to toggle important functions such as Wi-Fi. A good thing here is that the keyboard showed little flex.

The trackpad comes with two distinct buttons that give a nice tactile response when clicked. Common multitouch features such as pinch-to-zoom and two-finger scroll are supported on this trackpad, though there isn't much space on the trackpad for expansive gestures.

FeaturesEdit

We have often criticized the mediocre displays on Acer's laptops and the V3 doesn't give us any reason to do otherwise. While this laptop's 1,366 x 768-pixel resolution is pretty reasonablefor a 14 incher, the offaxis viewing leaves much to be desired. It's quite similar to the last Acer notebook we reveiwed, the Aspire Timeline Ultra M3. The screen's glossy coating doesn't help, though adjusting the brightness to the maximum does alleviate this to a certain extent.

The Acer Aspire V3 is one of the earliest Ivy Bridge laptops in the market, boasting a 2.3GHz quad-core version with a substantial amount of RAM (8GB). The Nvidia GeForce GT 640M onboard is also one of the company's new Kepler-based chips. It should make for a very competent laptop, with its 750GB HDD (with no SSD cache) probably being the least impressive specification. Still, this is pretty competitive hardware for a mainstream laptop.

Acer Aspire V3-471G Average for category (mainstream)
Video HDMI VGA plus HDMI or DisplayPort
Audio Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks> Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks
Data One USB 3.0, two USB 2.0, SD card reader Four USB 2.0, SD card reader, eSATA
Networking Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional mobile broadband
Optical drive DVD burner DVD burner
Other features Webcam Webcam

With native USB 3.0 support on Intel's new 7-series chipsets, it's a bit disappointing that there's just a single USB 3.0 port on the V3. You do get three USB ports in total, along with HDMI and VGA connectors. Thankfully, unlike the Timeline Ultra M3 which placed some ports at the rear, the ones on the V3 are easily accessible at both sides.

An Ethernet port is also found on this laptop and you'll find the usual support for wireless (Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n and Bluetooth) connectivity.

Like a number of Acer laptops, the V3 supports Dolby Home Theater Audio, which comes with a software-based control panel. Default profiles for movies, music and games have been created, though users can adjust an equalizer and save the settings as a custom profile. The laptop also startled us with how loud it could get when adjusted to its maximum volume setting. The audio quality may get slightly crackly, but it can certainly fill up the room.

Looking at the preloaded applications on the V3, Acer appears to have reduced the amount of bloatware on its laptops. However, we still found some programs that are either trial versions (Norton Online Backup) or ad-supported (Microsoft Office Starter).Other minor annoyances include the Bing Bar and an eBay shortcut icon.

Model/Specifications Acer Aspire V3-471G HP Pavilion dv6 (2012) Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M3
Processor 2.3GHz, Core i7 processor 2.6GHz, Core i7 processor 1.6GHz, Core i5 processor
Graphics Nvidia GeForce GT 640M Nvidia GeForce GT 650M Nvidia GeForce GT 640M
Video HDMI, VGA HDMI, VGA HDMI
Audio Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks Stereo speakers, headphone jack
Data One USB 3.0, two USB 2.0, SD card reader Two USB 3.0, two USB 2.0, SD card reader One USB 3.0, two USB 2.0, SD card reader
Networking Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
Price S$1,198 US$1,319 S$1,298

The two Acer laptops here use a similar GeForce GT 640M chip, though the V3 has a newer Ivy Bridge quad-core processor while the M3, ostensibly an Ultrabook, uses a typical ultra-low-voltage Core i5 chip. Both models are eclipsed by the HP Pavilion dv6, which not only packs a superior full-HD display, but also has a better processor (Ivy Bridge, too) and graphics chip. However, it's also significantly more expensive than the Acer notebooks.

Performance and battery lifeEdit

With a 3DMark11 score of 1,915, the V3 performed slightly better than the Timeline Ultra M3, which makes sense as they both use the Nvidia GeForce GT 640M chip. As we have found out, this graphics processor is good enough to run Battlefield 3 at medium settings at the native 1,366 x 768-pixel resolution.

General system performance, however, was not as impressive as the first Ivy Bridge laptop we tested, the HP Pavilion dv6. We got a score of 2,541 in PCMark7 for the V3, which is significantly less than the 4,182 recorded on the dv6, which does have a faster CPU and GPU. The HDD on the dv6 is also a 7,200rpm model compared with the 5,400rpm version on the V3.

Acer rates the battery life on the V3 to be around 4.5 hours and it's quite accurate as far as such estimates go. In our testing, the laptop lasted 5 minutes shy of the 4-hour mark, while playing a standard-definition video continuously at 50 percent brightness. Wi-Fi was disabled and we also muted the audio. This amount of uptime is good enough even for epic-length feature films such as the extended edition of The Lord of the Rings, but obviously isn't close to the stamina of an Ultrabook.

Service and supportEdit

The Acer V3-471G comes with a one-year international warranty. On its support Web site, you can browse frequently asked questions and other technical issues. Technical support is available via online, over the phone, or by fax, though in case of hardware failure the unit has to be brought to a service center for repair.

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