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This $749 Acer laptop is secretly one of the most innovative gadgets I've tested this year

Forget the foldable screens: Acer's Aspire Vero 16 (2024) raises the bar on sustainable laptops with a chassis made of 60% post-consumer recycled plastic.
Written by Kyle Kucharski, Editor
Acer Vero 16 laptop
Kyle Kucharski/ZDNET

ZDNET's key takeaways

  • The Acer Aspire Vero 16 (2024) is available now for $749. 
  • It's a durable, eco-friendly laptop made from 60% recycled plastic, with an array of sustainability perks. 
  • Aside from the sustainability elements, it's a mid-range laptop that should do the job for most people.

Upon first glance, Acer's Aspire Vero 16 (2024) looks like a normal mid-range laptop. But look a little closer, and it's apparent there is something very different about this device. For one, the Vero has foregone the sleek aluminum or silver found on most laptops for a unique stone gray finish that's flecked with color and has a slightly rough texture.

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Second, the E and R keys are green -- and backward. No, it's not Cyrillic; it's a shoutout to eco-consciousness and recyclability, like the backward R symbol that indicates a product made with post-consumer recycled materials. 

The Aspire Vero 16 has reason to highlight these features, as it's one of the most sustainably made laptops on the market right now. The chassis consists of 60% post-consumer recycled materials with no paint or additives, the trackpad is constructed with ocean-bound plastic waste, and the keyboard and power adapter each consist of 50% PCR materials. 

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These points, along with the laptop's zero-plastic packaging and build with standard screws, allow for a device that comes from recycled materials, and can be easily dismantled back to them at the end of its lifecycle, a concept that is only just now beginning to take root. 

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Until recently, computer manufacturers were loathe to even mention a device's "death." Marketing emphasis has traditionally been focused on new, shiny products, as that's the only state in which they would ever exist. But the reality is that no device will be shiny and new forever, and there will come a point where its "life" reaches an end. So, what does the consumer do? Historically, that meant chucking it in the trash.

Acer Aspire Vero 16
Kyle Kucharski/ZDNET

You don't need me to tell you that's not sustainable. I've written about the benefits of device longevity before, so I won't go into it too much here, except for the fact that it's great to see manufacturers address these points in their products and push the envelope on what a sustainable device can actually be. 

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Now that we've touched on the sustainability selling points for the Aspire Vero 16, let's look at the laptop's features. To put it plainly, it's a pretty standard mid-range laptop, and that's fine. The Vero has an Intel Core Ultra 5 125U processor, which is on the mid-to-low end of Intel's new Meteor Lake series, and commonly found in other mid-range laptops on the market right now, such as the Lenovo Yoga 7i 2-in-1.

This processor is snappy enough for the typical user's needs: surfing the web with multiple tabs, getting some work done, or streaming video. But the key feature of this laptop is its energy efficiency. Acer says the chip's AI allows for deeper battery optimization, dropping power to a trickle when it's left idle. In my testing, I found the battery life to be quite good. With intermittent use, it lasted several days, and under heavier load throughout the day, it lasted over ten hours before tapping out. 

The 16-inch matte display is also your standard affair, with a 16:10 aspect ratio and a 60Hz refresh rate that I wouldn't call eye-candy or suited for gaming, but passable for everything else. The Vero 16 can come with a touchscreen if you want, but if you want to get 4K out of this laptop, you'll have to connect it to an external monitor.

Luckily, that's easy to do, as the port selection is generous, with two USB-C (Thunderbolt 4) ports, an HDMI port, two USB-A, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a Kensington lock slot. The full-sized keyboard is roomy and feels satisfying to use, as is the trackpad, which is slightly left-aligned, a small design feature I appreciate.  

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The Vero comes with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD of storage, which again, is standard for laptops in this price range. This hardware, with the integrated GPU, means this isn't really a laptop made for graphics-intensive tasks, but you can run some light games as long as the laptop is plugged in and you don't have one of the Eco modes selected. 

Acer Aspire Vero 16
Kyle Kucharski/ZDNET

In my testing, I downloaded Steam and tried running "Manor Lords" with the laptop on battery power and in Eco mode, and it was essentially unplayable. But plugging it back in and swapping to Performance mode opened up power to the CPU and turned the fans on, allowing the laptop to get the power it needed to run properly. 

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When I heard about the Aspire Vero 16's new eco-conscious design, I assumed the product would be on the fragile side, or a pretentious product with a bloated price. Instead, the Aspire Vero is modest, practical, and honest about its lifecycle with a DIY element thanks to the standard screws on the back. 

In fact, this laptop's constitution is kind of strange. It definitely feels a little flimsy, but it also feels like it isn't afraid to get dropped on the ground. There's truth to this, as it does come with military-grade (MIL-STD-810H) durability. At just shy of four pounds, it's fairly weighted for a 16-incher. But it's also quite thin, and easily slips into a backpack or travel bag. 

ZDNET's buying advice

If you're looking at buying a laptop made with sustainable materials, the Acer Aspire Vero 16 has some of the most impressive stats out there. I, for one, applaud Acer's efforts in continuing to raise the bar with sustainable devices. There will come a time when being made with eco-friendly materials is the norm, not just a selling point, but for now, the Acer Aspire Vero is a statement-making machine. 

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The laptop's hardware places it firmly in the mid-tier range, and its performance (and price) reflects that. For this reason, the Vero is a fantastic choice as a second laptop, a device for students, or as a travel laptop, or for anyone interested in reducing their carbon footprint. 

If you're looking for a more high-end laptop also made from sustainable materials, check out the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon for $1,700. If you're looking for a similarly-priced laptop with a 14-inch screen, take a look at the Acer Swift Go 14 (2024) for $899.  

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