Acer Aspire 9813WKMi review

Price when reviewed
Almost everything about the monstrous Acer makes it an ideal notebook to replace your desktop PC. For a start, the 20.1in screen is probably larger than your existing PC’s, while the inclusion of a hybrid TV tuner and a Media Center remote control make it a decent self-contained entertainment centre, too.

For everyday use, the TFT’s 1,680 x 1,050 resolution is ideal, while image quality is hard to fault. The keyboard is intuitively laid out, and the addition of a number pad is a bonus. We’re also fans of the slot-loading DVD writer and speakers, which are loud and offer a modicum of bass.

There’s plenty of scope for connecting peripherals, including four USB and mini-FireWire ports, an ExpressCard/54 slot and legacy connectors such as a PC Card slot, plus parallel and serial ports. The graphics card provides VGA, DVI and S-Video outputs, plus S-Video and composite inputs. A memory card reader supports SD, Memory Stick and xD-Picture cards.

Internally, the 9813WKMi boasts Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and usefully there’s a power switch for each radio on the front. Next to these is a handy audio line-in and coax S/PDIF out.

Power comes from a Core 2 Duo T5500 and GeForce Go 7600. They provide modest performance in this company, partially due to the presence of just 1GB of RAM (though you can add another 1GB thanks to a spare memory socket. Also, the 120GB hard disk is the smallest in the group.

But other features help to make up for the lack of performance and storage. An adjustable webcam resides at the top of the screen, while in the box you’ll find a Bluetooth VoIP phone that stows and recharges in the PC Card slot.

At over 7kg, you won’t be carrying the Aspire any great distance, and the battery life (only 1hr 41mins under light use) doesn’t aid portability, either. Warranty is the stingiest on test, too, with just a year’s return-to-base cover.

However, if you’re looking for an affordable desktop replacement with a huge screen, the Acer could be for you. It’s cheaper than HP’s offering and, although it doesn’t offer earth-shattering power, it certainly isn’t lacking in features.

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