Acer Aspire E 15 laptop review: A glorious throwback with a DVD drive and vintage ports

This is a large, purpose-driven laptop that's a bit of a throwback to a time long ago when we used low-density displays, optical media and VGA ports.

The Acer Aspire E 15 is a big laptop. There's no getting around that. It's big, and it's thick, and it's got a friggin' DVD writer inside. This, in a newish-laptop that you can purchase in 2018. Doesn't make sense, does it?

Well, it does if you've ever needed something that can easily connect to some sort of legacy projector. Or if you need to burn a DVD (kids, ask your parents). And if you need a big-ass battery. And if you need it in a single package for a price that doesn't exactly break the bank.

That's the Aspire E 15 — and its slightly lesser cousin, the E5, which is what I tested. (Specifically, I've got model E5-576G-5762, which comes with the Intel Core i5 8250U processor.)

What you'll love about the Acer Aspire E 15

Look, this isn't the sort of laptop that you'd go up to in a store and want to run your hands over. And if you do, you'll quickly frown at the faux metal finish on the plastic lid. Or notice the bounce in the not-quite-16-inch (diagonal) display.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Form factorClamshell laptop.
Display15.6-inch FHD non-touch (1080x1920) IPS LED.
ProcessorIntel Core i5-8250U.
GraphicsNVIDIA GeForce MX150.
Storage256GB SSD, DVD-writer.
Battery6-cell 2800 mAh Li-ion
Ports2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0, VGA, Ethernet, HDMI, USB-C.
Size15.02 x 10.20 x 1.19 inches (381 x 259 x 30.2 mm).
Weight5.27 pounds (2.39 kilograms).

No. What you're looking for is around on the side. Both sides, actually. This is where you'll find a couple of USB 3.0 ports, and one USB 2.0 port. You'll find Ethernet. You'll find HDMI. You'll find USB-C.

And you'll find a throwback VGA port. (That's for those crazy cables with pins that we had to use for videos years ago. No, not DVI. Before that.) And you'll find a damned DVD writer on the other flank.

Those last two features are what gives this thing away. This is a laptop for folks who need to burn DVDs. Or who need to connect a laptop to an old-school VGA port. Or at least think they'll need those two things. Because, yes, out in the real world, where peripherals aren't necessarily replaced until they die some sort of tragic death, there still are components that need VGA cables. And there are still folks who need DVD writers.

And, yes, there are folks who don't mind huge laptops. Because, like this one, they can have larger screens. And larger batteries. And because the batter is larger, it lasts a good long while. Acer says 12 hours of use, and that's not out of the realm of possibility, depending on what you're doing with it.

One last positive here — three screws is all it takes to get inside this beast, and once you're there you can upgrade the RAM or pop in some more storage. That's a throwback I can get behind. (And even if it's something you've never done before, it's super-easy and takes about 5 minutes to do — and definitely is a way to save some money.)

What you'll loathe about the Acer Aspire E 15

This is a large laptop. I might have failed to mention that previously. This isn't something you'll want to lug around. It's something you'll only lug around if you have to. Again, it's a purpose-built machine.

But beyond the size, it's the off-center keyboard (which isn't awful) and trackpad (also not the worst) that have driven me nuts. Sure, sliding things to the side have allowed for a full number pad on the right. (Again, that's one of those things some folks just need to have.) But my brain works best when centered. You'll get used to it, I guess. But it'll ruin you for every other laptop out there.

It also doesn't help that this is a 1080p display at nearly 16 inches, which leads to a density of about 141 pixels per inch. That's not great by any modern standard, and it means you're going to be seeing a lot of individual dots in text and pictures and pretty much everything.

But, hey. Number pad, right?

By the way — that USB-C port isn't there to charge your laptop. For that, you'll be using one of those old-school barrel plugs. It's next to the DVD writer.

Acer Aspire E 15

Bottom line on the Acer Aspire E 15

One last time — this is a big laptop, for people who like big laptops. And it's one for folks who need a VGA port and a DVD writer and who maybe don't mind the minimum resolution you should have in 2018, never mind in a display this large.

And while the $599 starting price probably is a tad high for what I'd be willing to pay for this sort of thing, it's also in the neighborhood of what business-type folks who don't have a lot of options could get away with.

It ain't sexy. But it'll get the job done.

See at Amazon

Phil Nickinson

Phil is the father of two beautiful girls and is the Dad behind Modern Dad. Before that he spent seven years at the helm of Android Central. Before that he spent a decade in a newsroom of a two-time Pulitzer Prize-finalist newspaper. Before that — well, we don't talk much about those days. Subscribe to the Modern Dad newsletter!