Acer Aspire 8935G notebook
Acer's Aspire 8935G is the latest model from the company's multimedia range, offering a great mix of power and features at an impressive price.
As with previous models, the 18.4-inch screen is a particular highlight of this machine, offering an astonishing array of colours and proving brighter and more vibrant than most other laptops currently on the market. The 1920 x 1200 pixel resolution also results in pin-sharp image quality, with HD movies looking truly amazing.
An integrated Blu-ray drive lets you make the most of this, with high-definition films playing back smoothly. There's also an HDMI port so you can connect to external displays, although the size means this is hardly the perfect machine to use simply as a Blu-ray player for your HDTV.
There's loads of space on offer for a good-sized interface, with a large keyboard sitting in the centre. It features Acer's recently adopted style, which sees each of the keys standing up off the board itself - giving a floating appearance. It looks great, and is also comfortable, but the completely flat finish means it's a little too easy to clip the surrounding keys as you type. Unlike most other Acer keyboards, this one is also backlit, adding a touch of class. A numeric pad sits to the side, aiding usability.
A separate section to the right acts as a media control bar. It's less intrusive than the CineDash panel found on older 8900-series laptops, and the touch-sensitive buttons offer a good way of controlling your movies and music. A large volume dial sits below and is a nice addition.
The quality of the Aspire 8935G is excellent, with strong plastics used throughout, and despite its size the big screen is held firmly in place as you type. It's a bulky machine though, and with a weight of 4.5kg we wouldn't want to take it a lot further than the next room.
This machine's media credentials continue through to the components used, and ATi Mobility Radeon HD 4670 graphics card offers enough shove to play the latest games with ease. That said, you may have to turn the HD resolution down slightly in some of the more demanding titles. Office performance is equally capable, with a mid-range Intel Core 2 Duo P7450 processor and 4096MB of speedy DDR3 RAM making light work of everything we threw at it.
The 500GB hard drive provides plenty of space for media files, and there's also a memory card reader and ExpressCard slot - letting you add further storage and access files from other digital devices.
Along with the optical drive, three USB ports adorn the Acer's right-hand side. There's a further two on the left, offering exceptional connectivity for peripherals. The HDMI port is joined by a VGA connection, offering support for older displays and projectors. There's also an eSATA port, offering speedy connections to external hard drives. A fingerprint reader rounds off the specification, letting you log-in quickly with the swipe of a finger.
If you're on the lookout for a media centre laptop, then the Acer is well worth a shot. The screen matches the very best on the market, and the rest of the laptop also stands up well under scrutiny. With a powerful graphics card, decent quality, loads of features, it's a good all-rounder. Just don't plan on taking it on the daily commute.