Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G review

£1420
Price when reviewed

It isn’t perfect, however. Putting the display’s colour reproduction to the test with our X-Rite colorimeter saw the Acer manage an average Delta E of 7 – again, fine by laptop standards – but it falls down badly when it comes to brightness and contrast. The maximum brightness of 194cd/m[sup]2[/sup] is decidedly dim, and the contrast ratio of 303:1 is much lower than we’d expect at this price.

The Acer’s most novel feature is its touchpad. Swipe the latch on the Acer’s front edge and the touchpad actually pops out of its moorings, ready to wirelessly control the cursor from across the room. Dabbing the button on the touchpad’s top right illuminates a set of touch-sensitive buttons which fire up Acer’s clear.fi media playback software, adjust volume and control media playback.

It’s a nice idea, in theory, but cursor control feels horribly inconsistent: there’s a constant lag to every stroke of the finger, and the slightly sticky surface makes it feel like you’re physically dragging the cursor from one side of the screen to the other.

Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G

Wireless control occasionally went haywire, the cursor refusing to move left and right, only up and down, and it required us to dock the touchpad to get it working again. Then there’s the lack of a scroll area or multitouch capability – it’s enough to leave anyone reaching for the USB mouse.

The backlit keyboard and numeric keypad are, thankfully, much better. Given the sheer amount of space on offer we don’t understand why the cursor keys are so small, but otherwise there’s little to complain about. The Scrabble-tile keys fall nicely under the finger, have a crisp, light action, and there’s acres of wristrest to play with.

Finally, the Aspire Ethos 8951G remains about as well-connected as any of its rivals. There’s one USB 3 port, a further three USB 2 ports, one eSATA/USB 2 combo, mini-FireWire and a card reader. The optical S/PDIF output is welcome too.

In fact, Acer’s Aspire Ethos 8951G does most of the things you’d expect of a top-flight desktop replacement. It’s very powerful, has a large, high-resolution display, and is packed with features, from the Blu-ray player to its 1.5TB of hard disk space. The problem with this laptop is that it would have to be a whole lot better to justify the £1,420 price tag – including a better quality screen, and a touchpad that worked properly.

Warranty

Warranty 1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 440 x 295 x 40mm (WDH)
Weight 4.000kg
Travelling weight 4.5kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i7-2630QM
Motherboard chipset Intel HM55
RAM capacity 8.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 18.4in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,920
Resolution screen vertical 1,080
Resolution 1920 x 1080
Graphics chipset Nvidia GeForce GT 555M
Graphics card RAM 2.00GB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 750GB
Hard disk usable capacity 698GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Seagate ST9750423AS
Optical disc technology Blu-ray reader
Optical drive Slimtype BD E DS4E1S

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support no
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 4
FireWire ports 1
eSATA ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 1
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 3
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader yes
MMC (multimedia card) reader yes
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader yes
Pointing device type Touchpad (removable)
Audio chipset Realtek HD Audio
Speaker location Above keyboard, base
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader yes
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 5hr 48min
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.83
Responsiveness score 0.85
Media score 0.85
Multitasking score 0.78

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery partition
Software supplied N/A

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