Acer Aspire U5 and Z3 All-in-One desktop PCs Hands-on

It is interesting that at Acer's global press event last week, the company didn't have any traditional desktops on display. Increasingly, it seems like OEMs are pushing all-in-one (AIO) PCs as the home PC of choice. With their large IPS displays and advanced multimedia features, Acer is promoting these computers as "digital entertainment hubs" that come only second to your televisions as the device on which to consume content while at home.

The two models introduced were the premium Acer U5-620 and the more budget-minded Aspire Z3-615. While at the event, we went hands on with these AIO PCs; you can check out our pictures of them below.

Aspire U5-620

Specifications:
OS
Windows 8.1
Screen23-inch Full HD 1920 x 1080, IPS LED-backlit LCD Display 10-point, anti-fingerprint touchscreen
ProcessorIntel Core  i7/i5/i3
MemoryUp to 16 GB DDR3
GraphicsIntel HD Graphics Nvidia GeForce GTX 850M (Optional)
Storage500 GB/1 TB/1 TB Hybrid Drive with 8 GB Cache
Blu-ray Disc Combo or DVD Super Multi
Dimensions560 x 398 x 35 mm
22.05 x 15.67 x 1.38 inches
Weight7.9 kg/17.42 lbs
Speaker/AudioSkype Certified
Two stereo speakers

Dolby Digital Plus Home Theater

Dual array microphone powered by Acer
Purified.Voice
Input/Output2 USB 3.0, 3 USB 2.0, 1 HDMI input, 1 HDMI output
CameraFull HD 2 Megapixels Webcam supporting wide FOV

As can be seen, the U5 can be spec'd out with some rather high-end components, such as an i7 CPU, 16 GB of RAM, dedicated GeForce GTX 850M graphics and a Blu-ray. With this configuration, the U5 should be able to handle anything you throw at it, from HD video editing to gaming with current generation titles. Acer is also promoting the audio capabilities of the U5. It has front-facing dual array microphones and a 1080p webcam, all designed to enhance the video-chatting experience.

The U5 is quite an attractive looking PC that has a sleek and stylish look more akin to a television than a desktop computer. While it is covered in high-gloss surfaces, Acer is saying that the screen has an anti-fingerprint coating that is supposed to minimize the appearance of them. The U5-620 can be tilted to lay almost flat, and the mechanism is designed so this can be achieved with pressure as light as one finger. However, despite this ease of motion, the stand did seem sturdy, at least from what we saw at the event.

The right side is where the optical drive resides. The U5 is only 35 mm thick, which is impressive for an AIO with these specs. The beveled design of its front edge only helps to further enhance its slim appearance.

On the left side is a USB 3.0 port, SD card reader, HDMI out and headphone jack. The remainder of the USB ports (one USB 3.0 and three USB 2.0) are on the bottom of the U5, so they aren't easily accessible once it is set up.

Aspire Z3-615

Specifications:
OSWindows 8.1
Screen23-inch Full HD 1920 x 1080, IPS LED-backlit LCD Display 10-point touchscreen (Optional)
ProcessorIntel Core i7/i5/i3
Intel Pentium/ Intel Celeron
MemoryUp to 16 GB DDR3
GraphicsIntel HD Graphics
Nvidia GeForce 840M (Optional)
Storage500 GB/1 TB
DVD Super Multi (Optional)
DimensionsTouch: 579.4 x 390.8 x 54.1 mm/22.81 x 15.39 x 2.13 inches
Non-Touch: 579.4 x 390.8 x 53.9 mm/
22.81 x 15.39 x 2.12 inches
WeightTouch: 8.76 kg /19.3 lbs
Non-Touch: 7.8 kg /17.2 lbs
Speaker/AudioTwo stereo speakers
Dolby Digital Plus Home Theater
Single Microphone
Input/Output2 USB 3.0, 3 USB 2.0, 1 HDMI  Input, 1 HDMI Output
CameraHD 1 Megapixels Webcam

The Z3 also has a 1080p IPS screen, but the touch screen is optional and does not have the anti-fingerprint coating. It is also available with a variety of CPU options like the U5, but can be configured with lower-end choices like Celeron, as well. It can be configured with dedicated graphics, but only goes up to GeForce 840M, and there is no option for a Blu-ray drive. The Z3 is not nearly as adjustable as the U5 and is mounted on a more traditional stand.

The wireless keyboard that comes with the Z3 is not as premium as the flatter unit included with the U5. Considering that the cost difference to Acer must be minimal, we cannot understand why Acer just doesn't include the better peripherals with the Z3 too.

On the back of the Z3 there is the Ethernet, HDMI out, one USB 3.0 port and two USB 2.0 ports, one being used by the receiver of the wireless mouse and keyboard.

As you can see, the Z2 is substantially thicker than the sleek U5 at just over 2 inches. Its design is also more utilitarian and doesn't go out of its way to make the Z3 look as stylish as the U5.

From the short time we spent with them, the Acer U5-620 and Z3-615 are compelling options if you are looking for an all-in-one PC. Both models are available with a wide variety of options, and it is good to see that discrete Nvidia GeForce 8 Series graphics is available as an option on both.

The Acer Aspire U5-620 will be available in the Americas in late-June starting at $1000. It will be available in Europe, the Middle East and Africa in late-May starting at €900.

The Acer Aspire Z3-615 will be available in the Americas in late-June starting at $600, and in Europe, the Middle East and Africa late-May starting at €700.

Follow Alex Davies @AlexBDavies. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and onGoogle+.

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  • "As you can see, the Z2 is substantially thicker than the sleek U5 at just over 2 inches. Its design is also more utilitarian and doesn't go out of its way to make the Z3 look as stylish as the U5." typo there, Z2.
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