The Acer Aspire
E3-111 reminds us a little bit of the small, colourful netbooks that
used to be so common in the market. It has been quite a while since Acer
stopped manufacturing netbooks, which were originally intended for
extremely price-conscious markets but ended up appealing to customers
all over the world regardless of economic status. The entire product category might have
been supplanted by tablets, but that doesn't mean there aren't still
people who need affordable PCs.
With an 11.6-inch screen, the
E3-111 is larger than most netbooks ever were, but it seems to be aimed
at the same entry-level audience. It has very basic specifications and
isn't going to be winning any performance prizes, but that's not what
it's about. It's meant to be sturdy, with a balance of price and
performance that will work for students, home users on a budget, and
even those who need a cheap secondary PC for occasional use.
Look and feel
Acer Aspire E3-111 is not super-slim but it does feel quite sleek and
streamlined. The plastic body has smooth curves and is designed
so that full-sized ports can fit on the back while the front tapers a
bit. The whole thing looks great, and we could have been fooled into
thinking we had a far more expensive device in our hands. Even the
hinges are nicely sculpted into the body and don't stick out. When
closed, the device fitted nicely into our hands and we had
no problem carrying it around.
When open, you can see that there's
enough room for a full-sized keyboard, though some of the keys are
cramped. The layout is fairly standard, but we have to mention that a
cluster of the alphabetical keys on the right side can double up as a
numeric keypad if used with the Fn modifier - a quite useful feature,
but one that's rare nowadays.
The Aspire E3-111 weighs
approximately 1.3kg and so you won't be too bothered by its weight in a
bag. Our review unit had a pale blue body which stands out in comparison
most other products in its class. The lid is a thin sheet of aluminium,
though everything else is plastic. There are speakers on the bottom,
angled outwards, and a webcam centred right above the screen.
you're looking for fancy frills such as a backlit keyboard or a
touchscreen, you'll have to keep on looking. Acer has covered all the
basics, but there definitely are tradeoffs for such low prices.
thing that surprised us most about the Aspire E3-111 was the lack of
vents on the sides and rear of the chassis. Not many people will even
notice this at first glance, but according to Acer, the device runs
without any fans. That's a pretty great step forward - small tablets can
get away with it, but we have higher expectations of a laptop such as
this. Let's hope performance isn't too limited by components that don't
require active cooling.
various models in the Aspire E3-111 series are based on rather anaemic
Intel Celeron and Pentium processors, based on the Bay Trail-M
architecture which is derived from the same basic design that powers
today's Atom CPUs. Our review unit, which was the Aspire E3-111-C37U
model to be exact, was based on a Celeron N2840, which has a peak speed
of 2.58GHz but will usually run closer to its base clock speed of
2.16GHz. It has two CPU cores without Hyper-Threading. The integrated
Intel HD Graphics component is equally sedate, running at a top speed of
792MHz in bursts.
There's 2GB of RAM which is of the low-power
DDR3L variety, but to keep costs low without compromising storage space,
there's a traditional 500GB spinning hard drive. A solid-state drive
would have been more consistent with the rest of the configuration and
would have helped boost speeds quite a bit.
The screen is a
simple 1366x768-pixel non-touch panel. Its glass does not have a glossy
finish, which really stands out in the market today. Glossy, reflective
surfaces often make colours appear more vibrant but are also often
annoying because they reflect everything around them including light
sources, and are impossible to keep free of smudges.
and Bluetooth 4.0 are supported, which is no surprise. The Aspire E3-111
also has more ports than some other slim laptops offer, though most of
them are located on the rear, which is unusual. You might not mind that
the Gigabit Ethernet and HDMI ports are tucked out of the way, but the
sole USB 3.0 port and one of the two USB 2.0 ports are also consigned
here, which can become annoying. The second USB 2.0 port is right at the
back of the left edge, along with a single 3.5mm headset socket and an
SD card reader. There's only a Kensington lock slot on the right.
Students and BYOD office workers should note that there is no VGA port,
which is often required to hook up laptops to projectors.
The Aspire E3-111 runs Windows 8.1, though without a touchscreen to make it easier to navigate, some people will be a little unhappy. Acer preloads quite a bit of software including its own media and cloud storage utilities, a few third-party apps, and limited-time versions of Microsoft Office and McAfee LiveSafe Internet Security.
weren't expecting much from the Celeron processor at the heart of this
laptop, but we were still a little disappointed when the benchmark
scores came in. Despite setting low expectations, the Acer Aspire E3-111
managed to surprise us with scores that barely kept up with other
entry-level products. In some cases, the laptop performed worse than
Atom-based tablets such as the Notion Ink Cain, although in other cases
it did manage to match the far more expensive HP Pavilion 11 x360 with
its Pentium processor.
PCMark 8 gave us 1633 and 2769 points in
the Home (Accelerated) and Work test scenarios, which were both within a
hair's breadth of the HP Pavilion 11 x360's scores. However, POVRay
took 29 minutes, 23 seconds to render its test scene, compared to 16
minutes, 50 seconds and Cinebench R15's CPU test (multithreaded) gave us
a score of 66 as opposed to 146. SiSoft SANDRA's CPU-intensive subtests
also revealed a considerable gulf between the raw number-crunching
abilities of the Celeron and Pentium processors. Considering the
Pavilion 11 x360's swivel-touchscreen feature and much higher cost, we
think Acer's approach is a little more balanced.
Thanks to its
reliance on mechanical storage, the Aspire E3-111 falls behind even
tablets with solid-state storage, such as the Notion Ink Cain. 3DMark
failed to run, but browser-based tests including SunSpider and
Browsermark were quite snappy.
Outside of formal benchmarks, there
was quite a bit of lag and even occasional freezes which lasted about
five seconds at a time when switching between windows. We weren't
comfortable with more than a few programs and we definitely wouldn't
want to rely on this device for even reasonably heavy task, such as
editing images, while other things are also running.
happy to note that all our HD test videos except the heaviest MKV file
played without stuttering. Audio quality was reasonably good, but there
definitely was distortion at higher volumes.
The battery lasted an impressive 4 hours, 8 minutes in our Battery Eater Pro run. This is a fair bit higher than even some mainstream laptops can last, and is very impressive. We'd easily expect to get through a full working day on this laptop, which might just be its secret weapon - well worth the performance impact for many people.
The keyboard is
comfortable, though a little stiff. The trackpad is almost a little too
smooth, and we found our fingers slipping on it now and then. Still, it
didn't take long to get used to both of them and we were comfortable
within a day. The arrow keys are squashed together in an awkward
rectangle, but that seems to be something all manufacturers are doing
The non-reflective screen was a pleasure to work with.
It's very unusual now to come across a device without shiny glass all
over it, and the difference was immediately apparent to us. While some
people will find it a little dull, we were happy with the tradeoff
considering we didn't have to reposition the laptop dozens of times a
day just to avoid reflections. Only the hinge doesn't go back as far as
we would have liked.
We were also really curious to see how the
Aspire E3-111 held up under heavy loads in terms of heat. We couldn't
tell if the CPU was bring throttled very aggressively, but we did feel
the bottom get warm when running intensive tests. It was enough to feel
uncomfortable on our laps, but the good news is you're rarely, if ever,
going to be doing things with this laptop that push it to such levels.
the fanless design is nice and quiet, there's still a fair bit of
vibration, most likely thanks to the spinning hard drive. All in all, we
wouldn't have minded a few vents if had been possible to trade looks
for better performance.
It isn't just a simple
matter of performance anymore - customers have loads of choices at the
entry-level now, and no single type of product is necessarily better
than any other. The Acer Aspire E3-111 is a good example of an
entry-level laptop with no support for touch input, but a fairly good
keyboard and a large hard drive for getting work done with. On the other
hand, "2-in-1" tablets such as the Notion Ink Cain (Review | Photos), which we just
reviewed, also cost just about the same amount of money, but have very
different advantages and disadvantages. If portability is the main
concern, it's also seriously worth considering whether an iPad or
Android tablet would serve your needs better.
We aren't thrilled
with Acer's latest product here. The stutters and freezes concern us and
will definitely be frustrating to users, especially those who buy this
device thinking it's as good as any conventional entry-level laptop.
However, we do think that there will be plenty of people who really like
the balance this device strikes between productivity and entertainment
without raising costs.
If you're sure a tablet doesn't appeal to
you, and if your needs don't go beyond the basics, you should be fine
with the Aspire E3-111. You can type or edit Microsoft Office documents,
read and respond to email messages, browsing the Web and social media,
and watch a few movies - but remember that this is a netbook-class
device, so don't try any gaming, heavy content editing, or any serious
productive work. Price (MRP):
Rs. 22,999 Pros
- Good looks and construction quality
- Impressive battery life
- Portable and affordable
- Below-average performance
Ratings (Out of 5)
- Design: 3.5
- Display: 3.5
- Performance: 2.5
- Software: 3
- Battery life: 4
- Value for Money: 3
- Overall: 3
Acer Aspire E3-111 in pictures