Review: Acer Aspire VERO – A Mostly-Recycled Laptop With a Green Disposition
As far as personal computing goes, we live in a very fortunate time where there are multiple equally-functional (relatively speaking) platforms to choose from, without a huge amount of variability in their essential functions – they all perform the same basic types of tasks, each platform doing so with its own unique “flavor”. Beyond that, as long as you are comparing equivalent specs between machines, each of these platforms is great for certain use cases.
What that means, however, is that with hardware and software being a relatively even trade between brands (depending on what you prefer and what type of work you do, that is), consumers have more reason to consider reasons beyond specs that motivate their purchase. For many individuals, environmental concerns are high on that list, and Acer is here to make good with that crowd by offering a laptop with a design and built specifically catered to the eco-conscious.
Enter: the Acer Aspire VERO
“Our Commitment to a More Sustainable Future”
On the face of things, the VERO is just another commonplace Windows 11 laptop, and as such offers performance and feature sets that reflect classic Windows environments. With that in mind, I am going to focus very little on the raw specs and capabilities of the VERO, and more on breaking down it’s headline feature of environmental consciousness and eco-friendly construction and power management.
So, here’s the thing. While I dig the focus on being green friendly, offering unique power management features, using mostly recycled materials, and so forth, it’s not so clear that they are really the leader in this category. For instance, Apple’s notebooks also boast an impressive EPEAT rating and minimal packaging. The focus on upgradeability is nice – and getting increasingly rare in a consumer laptop. But even that doesn’t place them hugely ahead.
That being said: I do respect the attention they are calling to using post-consumer recycled materials and making those sorts of topics a talking point, I just think it’s something the industry as a whole ought to be offering across their entire lineups. And to be fair: Acer does a fair amount of that too.
If it helps you feel motivated and like you are contributing to positive behaviors, I certainly wouldn’t judge you for buying a notebook like the VERO. I just don’t think it’s a clear enough slam dunk for the claims they are making and the way it’s being marked.
I will, however, give it an A for effort and note that any effort to make a positive impact is certainly a valuable one.
Overall, the VERO is an attractive and functional notebook. It’s a fairly typical Windows book, feels appropriately light and conformable in the hand, and is not damaged easily. It’s got a responsive keyboard, a slick little design vibe, and acceptable performance. It is, however, a mite heavier than your average laptop made of metal, albeit not by an alarming amount. With 16GB of RAM and a Core™ i7 11th Gen processor, and a standard SSD onboard in the model we reviewed, its performance was more than adequate for typical use as well.
There are two main aspects that the VERO struggles with: Overall screen brightness/quality and heat management. The display, for example, which comes in at 1080P, has a brightness of right around 260-270 nits, which makes it pretty exclusively an indoor laptop. Further, while it appears to offer an impressive range of connectivity, with HDMI, ethernet, a full range of wireless connectivity, 3 USB ports, and a USB C port, but there are also some tradeoffs. For example, while USB-C works for output, it does not work for powering the notebook or charging the internal battery, meaning that’s one extra cable that many users will need to use to complete their setup.
The keyboard is also interesting, with the R and E keys shown in reverse – while this doesn’t really impact productivity, I did find it a bit distracting at various times. I love the built-in number pad, and the overall feel of the keys, was satisfied with the smooth and consistent flow of the trackpad, and found the screen acceptable, if a bit lower resolution than it deserves, and somewhat lacking in brightness – however, nothing that would deter majorly from the overall user experience.
Acer has also designed some sleek battery management tools that are built into the laptop, which is a nice touch, and the battery does keep up very nicely with 10-12 good hours of what I would consider typical use. That being said, the power management features do also make a noticeable difference and impact in how long the laptop will last on a charge (as long as the type of usage you are giving the laptop: gaming vs word processing, etc.
The only -major- concern I have with Acer’s design is their choice of materials, and how those play into the experience. For instance, the plastic used in the chassis is prone to flexing, so much so that it will cause the fans to rattle if you pick the notebook up from the corner rather than supporting it in the center. You could visually see the flex in the material at times, which did not bode a huge amount of confidence, however it does seem to hold up pretty darn well in real world use.
Given the mechanics involved, however, I was disappointed that the overall frame of the laptop was not supported better internally against movements that could potentially lead to damage.
One thing I will say, is that while the build-in fingerprint reader is a nice security feature, I was highly disappointed that the webcam is not of high enough quality to use for Windows Hello. That’s the sort of thing that should have caught someone’s attention before being brought to market, and left a bad taste in my mouth regarding the overall fit and finish, and how the hardware choices made by Acer impact a meaningful feature of Windows security.
The speakers, also. while not poor, weren’t above average quality from other competing laptops, but also still offered a good listening experience, albeit without much bass. The slats also face downward, so it is pretty easy to unintentionally muffle the sound output. The design of the vents also leaves the internal hardware highly exposed to both dust and moisture on the back panel.
Using a standard Intel Core chipset, the VERO performs like a champ as far as mobile entry-level laptops are concerned, and between the native performance of Intel’s chipset and Acer’s fairly sophisticated power management features that sit on top of the Windows power management features, drives an impressive amount of performance compared to it’s battery consumption – I mainly just with that the battery was physically larger, as it seems a retooled design could achieve this fairly easily.
That being said? No major complaints – it performed just as well as an equivalent Dell laptop I had here in the studio (same Intel Core i7 chipset and integrated graphics), making the VERO’s main selling points its environmental message, it’s affordability, and it’s overall compact and durable frame (although a bit more framing support would make it -feel- nicer). I have to give Acer full props for squeezing decent performance from this hardware as efficiently as possible, while still giving full control over power management to the end user.
While I can say that overall, this is a slick laptop, and I fully support the idea that Acer is going for with the VERO line, I am less convinced that they are, in reality, making bolder environmental moves compared to competing companies producing products of similar cost. Some of the hardware left a bit to be desired too – particularly the webcam and the display. However, despite its faults, Acer still deserves a lot of credit for introducing this concept at a price point as low as around $650 at the time of this writing ($889 for the version of the laptop we reviewed.).
The full-sized keyboard complete with number pad was a nice addition for a laptop as compact as the VERO, and the fingerprint reader stepped in where the built-in camera left off to support Windows Hello functionality, meaning Acer has done a good job of preserving functionality even though that support could be improved. The design is exciting, distinctive, and holds up well under constant use, and the fact that the box doubles as a laptop stand is something I found very clever!
Wrapping it Up
All in all, while the actual environmental claims being made aren’t all that unique, Acer’s public commitment to environmental awareness by even having a product line specific to eco-minded consumers is both refreshing and speaks highly to the company’s values, and I just have to give them props for that.
With all of this in mind, we rated the Acer Aspire VERO 4 out of a possible 5.
- Affordable price point starting at around $650
- Excellent array of ports and connectivity
- Striking visual design
- Overall good performance for the money
- Excellent audio performance for a laptop
- Gives consumers an outlet to pledge their environmental commitment visually and financially.
- Supports environment-related
- Built-in fingerprint reader
- Box folds into a functional stand for the laptop
- Includes a full number pad
- Plastic is very flexible, especially when warm, and if not fully supported when picked up, can push against fans causing a grinding sound.
- Built-in camera doesn’t work for Windows Hello and is low resolution
- Runs warm (presumably due to lack of metal casing materials)
- Fans come on easily and tend to be quite loud
- Battery life is just average
- Screen could use more vibrancy and backlighting.
- Cannot charge via USB-C
The Aspire VERO is available now in multiple configurations at a price point as low as around $650 at the time of this writing ($889 for the version of the laptop we reviewed) and is available at many retailers, including Amazon and direct from Acer themselves. For more information, or to purchase the VERO, head on over to Acer’s product information site!