Acer Aspire E-15 laptop ... marrying work and play
Aspire E 15 ( E5-511): Laptop mey abhi life hai!

 Tablets, phablets and smartphones are great -- but no patch on the laptop for portable work-n-play.

October 27 2014: Sometimes  products just don't  live up to their  hype:  As phones became smarter and tablets morphed into  phablets, their makers  started writing obituaries for that original platform of portable computing, the laptop PC ( and its younger brother, the notebook).   Turns out they were  premature.  Surveys by industry watchers have shown  tablet sales still struggling. Granted smart phones are flying off the shelves -- but  not as substitutes for old  fashioned PC-style computing.

A report last week from,  said  the India laptop market reached 4.71 million units during the year ending June 2014:  "Changing work style and increasing need for access to information 24/7 is fueling the growth of  the Indian Laptop market."

Also last week,  IDC reported that in the quarter since June, "Higher-than-expected shipments in the consumer space in the two biggest markets - China and India –  characterised personal computer  business in Asia-Pacific."

So in India at least, laptop mey abhi bi dum hai!  ( there's life in laptops, yet!) I am not surprised -- and I'll tell you why.  I am a closet laptop lover.  Like everyone else I bought the hype about  the tablet-phablet  business and tried out the best of them -- including the 2-in-1s which come with a keyboard.  Having strayed from the straight and narrow to embrace these new upstarts, I returned fairly quickly to the   comfort of my old laptop love. Why? Because, I need to do fairly basic things while on the move --  create  documents, review and edit  files  that people send me,   read or create  presentations  and financial spreadsheets and  photoshop some pictures.  You don't have to be some high tech  geek to be doing all this -- most us of need to.  And as I discovered  very soon -- all of this is  inconvenient, if not painfully slow, to do on tablets  -- and impractical on a phone.

Acer recently launched a  laptop that  tries  to  bridge the gap between work and play even while pricing it sensibly:  I tried out the  Aspire E 15 ( E5-511), which offers  a 15.6 inch LED display,  fuelled by an Intel quad core Pentium N3530 processor, 2 GB of  memory , 500 GB  of hard disk storage,  an 8X DVD writer and the usual WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity. In the version sold in India, Windows 8.1 comes pre installed -- but I was relieved to see that Acer has tweaked it,  to open with the old familiar  Windows start screen and  leaves you the option  of   switching to the  newer brick wall  menu -- or not.|

The audio through the built-in  stereo speakers  is really good. I  tried it out playing a You Tube  video at the maximum HD resolution  and  the effect  was  excellent. Mind you, the laptop's native resolution is  less than full video ( at 1366 by 768 pixels)  and I think they might have gone  full HD  (1920 by 1080)  if they wanted to live up to the promise of a laptop for  family as well as professional use.  Also 2 GB/ 500 GB seems on the low side on the memory-storage side -- especially when many international versions of the same  laptop offer 4GB/1 TB  at a very small increase in price  . 

Acer is known for its intuitive laptop touch pad and this one does not disappoint:  supporting 2-finger scroll and some basic gestures.  The DVD drive is another Acer-only innovation: it is M-Disk ready, which means it is compatible with   new generation   DVD   disks that  are  meant to last a 100 years.

For  Rs 22,999  the Aspire E 15  is solid value -- considering that  most  smart phones or  tablets  cost more.   Beware of online offers for as low as Rs 19,000  -- the fine print will show these are without the Windows OS, which will cost you another Rs 3000 at least.

- Anand Parthasarathy