Acer Aspire 4920-1A2G12Mi laptop

Acer has recently overtaken Dell to become the second biggest seller of notebooks worldwide. It has done this by offering an ever-increasing number of machines at aggressive price points.

Until recently, the styling of Acer's budget notebooks has been rather conservative but with the introduction of what the company calls its "Gemstone" design, the look is neat with a retro twist. The black and cream notebook comes with a glossy lid but matt finish on the interior and is a look that has divided opinions.

We like the look but at this price it isn't the most robust of cases. The base and lid feel solid, so will protect the notebook when in a carry case but the finish isn't as robust as we'd like. With an overall weight of 2.6kg, you may be tempted to take this machine on the move with you but we feel the casing hasn't really been designed for mobile use. That said, it's more than adequate for being carried around the house.

The keyboard is of a good size and the keys feel spaced. Each key is individually mounted and has a reasonable amount of resistance to it, so needs a firm touch in order to respond. Above the keyboard is a row of function keys but at this price they proved to be blanks and only available on more expensive versions of this chassis.

When it came to using the machine away from mains power, we managed to get a little over 3 hours from a charge, which is quite surprising considering the specification of this machine.

Powered by the Intel 1.5GHz Core 2 Duo T5250, this budget dual-core processor is supported by 2048MB of memory, making this a powerful machine for the price. The main specification is rounded out by a 120GB hard drive.

This may be a budget processor but the extra memory meant it loaded the Windows Vista Home Premium operating system quickly. While this is a dual-core chip, we were less impressed with multiple functions as the system noticeably slowed down when we had more than one window open.

The screen is a 14.1-inch panel but as it comes with a Super-TFT coating, images really come to life. It's not the brightest screen we've seen at this price point but it proved satisfactory with word documents looking clear and DVDs having a reasonably rich tone to them. An integrated chip handles graphics, so you won't be able to play games on this machine.

You won't too much in the way of extras, but you'll find a DVD rewriter is built-in and 802.11g and Ethernet come as standard for connecting to networks.

Verdict

The Acer Aspire 4920-1A2G12Mi is a reasonable machine for the asking price. As long as you're not looking for something too rugged, you'll like this machine. While we found it could run a little slow at times, it offers good value for the price.