Acer Aspire 5684WLMi review
A well-balanced specification coupled with good performance, excellent battery life, plus sound build quality.
A laptop doesn't have to be the ultimate speed demon or boast every feature under the sun to win in the Labs. We have to be convinced that a product covers all bases, that it offers value for money and that - for notebooks aimed at consumers - we wouldn't be ashamed of having it in our own living rooms. In the sub-£1,000 range, Acer's Aspire 5684WLMi fits the bill perfectly.
In fact, there's only one area in which you could possibly level criticism at this machine: its processor isn't the fastest here. But the Core 2 Duo T5600, backed up by a generous 2GB of RAM, doesn't suffer too much in our tests; the result of 1.15 in our 2D application benchmarks is more than quick enough for even demanding users. There's also plenty of storage space, with a huge 160GB hard disk, while Nvidia's GeForce Go 7600SE boosts 3D performance to a reasonable level, although you'll have to reduce the resolution or detail levels from our settings for playable frame rates.
Battery life is impressive, especially in such disappointing company. In fact, the Aspire's 4,800mAh battery lasted 1hr 34mins and 3hrs 41mins in our intensive and light-use tests respectively. It may not be the lightest notebook in the world at 3.5kg including the power supply, but you'll be able to do more than write the odd email when you're out and about.
It's good value too. The price is on a par with the HP Pavilion dv2278ea and, although low prices often mean giving up on style or build quality, that isn't the case here. The Aspire may not have the wow factor of the HP, but it's stylish and solidly put together. Add an excellent 15.4in 1,280 x 800 widescreen TFT, usable and a well-laid out keyboard and an accurate touchpad into the mix, and you have a notebook that's great to use everyday.
There are even a few extras thrown in - a Bluetooth VoIP phone that slots into the PC Card slot to charge, a slot-loading dual-layer DVD writer and a DVI-D output that's HDCP compliant.
Acer's Aspire 5684WLMi may not have the sheer power of others this month, and its one-year warranty is also shorter than we'd like, but for all-round quality, battery life and value for money, no other notebook comes close in this price bracket.