Acer’s Aspire V5 May Hint at MacBook Pro 2012 Chassis

The Taiwanese manufacturer Acer has unveiled a new notebook computer that could hint at the upcoming refresh of Apple’s MacBook Pro laptops.

Acer’s Aspire V5 features dual-core models of Intel’s third-generation Core i3 or Core i5 CPUs (Ivy Bridge), and comes with either a 14-inch or a 15.3-inch display – firmly within the “mainstream” size category. Size-wise, the new machines just might squeeze into the “ultrabook” category being pushed by Intel, but the lack of a solid-state drive just might take them out of the running. Instead, it ships with a 500GB mechanical hard drive. Regardless, Acer doesn’t explicitly market the new machines as ultrabooks.

In another surprise, the laptop comes with a built-in optical drive. While you’d expect that this inclusion will add an unnecessary amount of thickness and weight to the Aspire V5, the 14-inch model weighs a reasonable 4.6 pounds and is a svelte 0.79-inches thick. The larger version doesn’t do much worse, weighing in at five pounds and 0.83-inches thick.

The price could be just right, as well, with the Aspire V5s due to hit stores across the United States by the end of the month with prices starting at $630.

Most rumors about the upcoming MacBook Pro refresh seem to indicate that the Apple notebook’s optical drive was clearly on its way out, possibly to be replaced by an extra battery and an SSD. What the Acer Aspire V5 indicates is that it could still be possible for Apple to whittle down the 15-inch MacBook Pro’s chassis, while still keeping its optical drive.

However, Apple could be moving to de-emphasize optical media and force users to make more use of Internet-based cloud services. This could alienate some buyers who need to use their existing stocks of CDs or DVDs, and may provide an opening for Windows-based laptops like Acer’s Aspire V5.