Acer produces a wide range of notebooks for the home user and flags them up under the Aspire range. The Aspire 9303WLMi is a 17-inch machine that weighs in at a portly 3.6kg. To this end, it’s not designed for mobile use so will spend most of its time on a table or desk. So we weren’t too disappointed when the battery lasted for just less than 2 hours when running simple tasks, such as surfing websites and general writing tasks.
Far more impressive is the build quality, as the casing is solid and robust with the screen held firmly in place by two large hinges. The screen itself is a Super-TFT panel, so images look crisp and with such a large screen, movies look impressive. On the downside, we found we had to crank up the brightness to get the screen to look right. This lack of brightness highlights the Aspire’s budget-priced roots. Graphics come courtesy of the entry-level Nvidia GeForce Go 7300 card, which is fine for most occasions, but you will need to run the latest games in reduced mode.
To also keep pricing down, it uses an AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60, which runs at 1.8GHz but with 1024MB of memory, we found that it ran most tasks with ease. This is a dual-core chip, so there are no complaints about performance when running multiple windows. However, we did find the notebook ran noticeably warm with the fan running for long periods when the machine was put under stress. Far more impressive is the use of a 160GB of hard disk space, which is more than enough to store all your music and movies for some time to come.
The large screen creates plenty of space for a good-sized keyboard that also manages to pack in a separate number pad, the same as on a desktop PC. This may seem a curious decision on a notebook but if you run a small business and need to manage the books, you’ll be thankful of its inclusion.
With standard 802.11g wireless LAN and Gigabit Ethernet, you’ll be able to hook up to networks with little or no problem. The four USB2 ports are spread around the casing, making adding peripherals easy too. With a DVD rewriter rounding out the basic specification, there is nothing the Aspire lacks.
While it’s got a multimedia focus, it’s hamstrung by a cheap price that limits the components to the average.
The Acer Aspire 9303WLMi is a competent desktop replacement that is ideal for a family, or small business, looking for a machine that can handle a range of low-level tasks.