Acer's latest Aspire makes a striking first impression. The 23-inch all-in-one features a spacious, continuously smooth flat surface, from the top of its glossy jet-black bezel down to its Lucite stand spanning the width of its display. Call it a boldly minimalist fashion statement. The Aspire U5-610-UB12 is a less clear choice, no pun intended, for those more interested in strong price-to-performance ratios.
Let's start with the highlights, the most important of which Acer is oddly silent about: Remove two screws, slide down the rear panel, and you gain access to some of the Aspire U5's most important components, making it fantastically simple to upgrade its hard drive, optical drive, or memory. Unlike many computer manufacturers, Acer won't automatically void your warranty should you open the computer up. That's great for folks who like to tinker, but all bets are off if you damage anything as there is no documentation explaining how to do this.
I also like how this Windows 8.1 computer takes up just eight inches of desk depth when you put it in the default vertical position. And it comes with a small keyboard and a mouse, both of which are wireless, so you don't need to futz with cables. A pair of speakers tucked into the top of the panel emanated rich and very clear sound, with only slight muffling and clipping when cranked up to full volume.
Now to the things that bugged me — and I encountered a number of them. The large 1920 by 1080 resolution screen responds beautifully to touch, for example, but its colors are a little pale and the display itself is highly reflective. It's very annoying when you have the sun or another strong light source behind you. Next, that Lucite panel makes it impossible to shove the keyboard and mouse under the screen when you want to free up your desk for other work. And it didn't take long for the thin rubber pad on the bottom of its foot to begin peeling off, exposing a slightly rough edge that's bound to scratch the finish on a wooden desktop (Formica and other hard finishes won't be as vulnerable).
Other manufacturers mount their all-in-one displays on articulated arms attached to a base, leaving the area beneath the display and in front of the computer available for a notepad or documents you might be working with. You must stash the Aspire U5's mouse and keyboard on one side of the PC or the other when you don't need them. If you work in a tight space, or frequently swap between the computer and paperwork, you might find this configuration to be a hassle.
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