We have to ask ourselves, how much do you think you need to spend on a notebook and still get a machine that manages to do what we need from it? Well, Acer would like us to think its £749 (inc. VAT) and they'd be right.
After all, the Aspire 1652 manages to deliver on a number of points. First off, you get a 15.4-inch screen that comes with a glossy coating, so even if you're watching some old black and white movie on DVD, you'll be able to see just how black and white it actually is. That said, this wasn't the brightest Super-TFT screen we've seen, as you'll need to turn it to full brightness to get the best image quality.
The chassis is finished in silver and black and has a rather robust finish to it. Considering it comes with a widescreen panel, its weight of 3kg isn't too excessive and you'll easily be able to carry this machine around with you.
Most manufacturers would expect you to live with integrated graphics at this price but not here. Sure, the ATI Mobility Radeon X300 is an entry-level PCI-Express card but it supports DirectX 9, as well as the latest OpenGL standards and manages to offer over twice the performance you'll find in an integrated solution. We had to play our sample games in reduced windows but you can't have everything.
When it comes to the core specification, you'll find the Intel Pentium M still holds sway. In our test model, it came with a 1.73GHz chip, which is decidedly mid-range but we didn't find any real problems in performance. You'll find 512MB of memory, the minimum you should expect these days, and a 60GB hard drive.
In use, this proved a well-rounded machine that handled tasks well. You won't want to run too many windows at once, as there is a marked lag when doing this but more memory would quickly sort this out. In terms of extras, you'll find a dual-layer DVD rewriter onboard, as well as 802.11g Wireless LAN and standard Ethernet. A particular strong point of the system is its usability. A broad and comfortable keyboard joins an equally usable touchpad/mouse button combination for flawless operation. Aiding mobile use further is a textured battery at the rear of the chassis, providing a strong grip in transit.
It may lack a little imagination and offer nothing new but at the asking price there really is little to fault with this machine. Sure, there are more powerful notebooks on the market but the Aspire is proof that if you shop around, you can find a genuine bargain or two.