Acer Aspire 5738PG notebook

Acer’s Aspire 5738PG is a touchscreen laptop with a difference. Unlike the previous machines we’ve seen with touch-sensitive displays, this isn’t a Tablet PC – so the screen doesn’t rotate at all. Instead, the multi-gesture touch panel is intended to be used alongside the regular interface, speeding up navigation.

The 15.6-inch screen is surprisingly good when it comes to image quality, with no sign of the hazy finish so often associated with Tablet PCs. It’s a very bright and sharp panel, but contrast is poor, with lighter colours failing to stand out.

The glossy Super-TFT coating seems like a strange addition on a machine such as this, as it’s soon plastered in fingerprints once you start to take advantage of the touchscreen technology.

The touchscreen aspect of the 5738PG is actually very good. It’s very responsive, and we also found it easy to hit what we were aiming at. It’s especially useful when viewing web pages – with the ability to easily scroll down with the flick of a finger.

Acer has also bundled its own software, letting you display your photographs and flick through them with ease. It’s definitely not as fluid as dedicated touchscreen devices – such as Apple’s iPhone – with zooming in particular proving a little jerky, but it’s a reasonable first effort.

Build quality is good for the most part, with sturdy and attractive plastics, and an excellent keyboard. The chunky chassis is tough enough for daily use, although the hinges that hold the screen let quality down.  The screen wobbles as you type, and rocks when you touch it - which is especially annoying for a device intended to offer touchscreen functionality.

The keyboard offers large and responsive keys, and they move quietly and accurately. Some users won’t like the lack of definition – with a completely flat surface to the keys you’ll need a precise typing action – but decent spacing means it’s fairly easy to adjust to.

Performance comes courtesy of a 2.2GHz Core 2 Duo T6600 chip, with 4GB of memory in evidence. It’s enough to offer reliable power for multi-tasking, with lag well contained during daily use. 3D performance is equally capable, thanks to a mid-range ATi Mobility Radeon HD 4570 graphics card.

With the screen boasting a fairly low resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels, the GPU is powerful enough to play the latest games, and tasks such as photo or video editing present no problem at all.

There are a couple of USB ports on the right-hand side of the chassis, along with a modem and optical drive. It’s a tri-format DVD rewriter rather than Blu-ray, but that’s pretty much to be expected at this price point.

There are another two USB ports on the left, with a memory card reader, VGA, HDMI and Ethernet ports rounding off the specification. 802.11n Wi-Fi offers good connectivity, although there’s no sign of Bluetooth.

Verdict

The Acer Aspire 5738PG is a good laptop, offering decent performance in a semi-portable chassis. The stand-out feature here is obviously the touchscreen, and it’s a tricky call as to how much it actually has to offer.

We enjoyed navigating web pages with it, but small icons in Windows 7 mean it’s still not a great way of navigating the operating system. A good laptop then, but for now the touchscreen display doesn’t really add much to the package.  



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