Acer S 13 S5-371 review
The Acer S 13 is an ultrabook for normal people. And by that we mean people who still get a little shock when they see the price of a MacBook Air or, for example, the lovely-but-expensive £1299 HP Spectre 13. See also: Best laptops to buy right now
Also see: Best Black Friday Laptop Deals
Like the Asus ZenBook UX310UA or Dell Inspiron 13 5000, the Acer S 13 is a more affordable alternative to these wallet-busters. Aside from some cheaper parts to the build and a typically quirky trackpad, there are no parts that make it a lesser machine day-to-day than one of the much pricier alternatives. It’s a smash.
Acer S 13 S5-371 review: Price
Its other upgrade is a 256GB SSD, which gives you much more storage to play with. The cheaper version we’re using is perfectly good for most uses, though.
Acer S 13 S5-371 review: Design
The Acer S 13 does its best not to look like a copy of a MacBook, or one of the other popular ultrabook lines. It has an embossed ‘ridged’ plastic lid, offset by a silvery hinge that gives it a recognisable two-tone style.
Its underside is plastic too, and the use of plastic rather than aluminium or glass is one way Acer keeps the S 13’s price accessible.
The laptop does have some parts that feel much more like a pricier machine, though. Its keyboard surround is aluminium, with a brushed finish that’s cut around its edges to reveal the shiny aluminium underneath. It’s lovely.
While you actually use the Acer S 13, it feels like an ultra-premium machine. It’s only when you finishing working you’re reminded this is really a mid-range laptop.
Its plastic parts still feel nice, though. They use a soft-touch finish for an extra tactile edge.
The Acer S 13’s keyboard has the rigidity than some laptops of this type lack too. It’s far stiffer than the Asus ZenBook UX360CA’s. While you tap away, it seems there really is no build quality compromise at all.
The main reason to want a laptop like the Acer S 13, though, is that it’s so slim and light. It weighs 1.3kg (1326g according to our scales) and is only 15mm thick, the perfect size to use for work trips, or if you want a laptop you can carry around all day, every day.
Acer S 13 S5-371 review: Connectivity
It has very versatile connectivity too. Acer has done its best to please just about everyone, packing-in a wide array of inputs in a very slim laptop.
The ones occasionally left out of slimmer laptops are the full-size HDMI and full-size SD card slot. These are important if you want something to act as your main computer, particularly if you’re a keen photographer.
Other connectors include two USB 3.0 ports and a single USB-C 3.1 port. This is the latest laptop socket, gradually being used in more and more phones aside from iPhones, which use Apple’s own Lightning connector.
Acer S 13 S5-371 review: Keyboard and trackpad
We’ve already noted the Acer S 13 feels like a high-end laptop as you’re using it. Part of this is down to the fairly rigid aluminium keyboard surround. The keyboard itself is very nice too, though.
Its key depth is a little shallow, but the action is satisfying, a just-right mix of crispness and resistance. Once you get away from flat-out bad keyboards, the feel of them is quite subjective. But we like this one.
Its layout is very similar to that of a MacBook, particularly in the shape and size of its Ctrl and Fn keys.
The Acer S 13 also has a cool blue keyboard backlight, one with two intensity settings to make the light less distracting. This is an ‘advanced’ feature not seen in every £500 laptop.
Its trackpad takes a bit of getting used to, though. It suffers from a fairly common Windows laptop problem, that its button layout feels less intuitive than that of a MacBook.
Like almost all style laptops, the buttons are built into the pad. The right mouse button zone takes up half the width and about a third of the pad’s height, and compared with a MacBook or one of the HP Envy style laptops (which use more dynamic button spacing), it’s a bit easy to accidentally press the right button until you get used to it.
If you like you can turn off the right button zone, though, giving the Acer S 13 a completely MacBook-like pad where you just use a two-finger press to use the right button. Using this mode you can leap-frog over the button awkwardness, and the pad otherwise feels great. Its friction is perfect thanks to what feels like a frosted glass surface, and the click mechanism is solid: not too deep, not too hard to press.
After a tweak or two the Acer S 13 has a top-quality keyboard and pad combo.