Acer Aspire 8920G review

17 Sep 2008

A huge 18.4in widescreen, Blu-ray drive and a big hard disk make this a great entertainment laptop.

Price when reviewed: 
1,320(£1,350 inc VAT)
5

Acer's Aspire 8920G is one of only two machines here capable of displaying pixel-perfect Full HD on its screen - and, at 18.4in, it's 1.4in larger than its rival, namely the Rock Xtreme 770. Acer puts this extra space to good use, with a stunning resolution of 1,920 x 1,080. There's also a Blu-ray drive and a few other features that lend themselves to home entertainment.

To the left of the full-sized keyboard is Acer's media control system, featuring a set of touch-sensitive media manipulation buttons - Play, Pause, Next track, and a large volume control. It's a snazzy-looking bit of gadgetry.

Most of the controls work with Acer's proprietary software alone, though: disappointingly, only the track control options work in Windows Media Player, with the volume slider and other buttons refusing to respond.

The huge screen and portly dimensions suggest solid build quality, and the Acer doesn't disappoint: the screen and large, metallic wristrest hardly flex under pressure. It's a quality panel, too - our only doubt, albeit minor, is that bright colours appear a little flat.

The keyboard and mouse are reasonably comfortable, although we'd have liked to see a little more travel in the keys and buttons. The trackpad is a little small, too - it feels cramped thanks to a large scrollbar at the side.

But there is a decent specification underpinning the flashy exterior. The 2.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300 is paired with 4GB of RAM for an impressive 2D benchmark result of 1.32, while a GeForce 9650M GS graphics chip saw the Aspire return 19fps in our medium-settings Crysis benchmark. There's acres of storage, too: 640GB, provided by a pair of 320GB hard disks.

The speakers aren't the best we've heard - the bass is weak and the treble indistinct - but they're enough for watching the occasional movie.

But this is the only black mark on a superb machine that offers everything you'd want in a luxury laptop. The screen lets you watch Blu-ray discs in Full HD, the battery lasts for more than three hours (under light use), and there's a fantastic range of multimedia features. The HP Pavilion beats it by offering even more, but this Acer is a worthy alternative.

Details

Price ex VAT £1,148
Price inc VAT £1,320
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 6
Value for Money 6
Performance 5

Warranty

Warranty 1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 440 x 302 x 46mm (WDH)
Weight 4.400kg
Travelling weight 5.0kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core 2 Duo T9300
Motherboard chipset Intel PM965
RAM capacity 4.00GB
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 9650M GS
Graphics card RAM 512MB
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 640GB
Hard disk usable capacity 582GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Western Digital WD3200BEVT
Optical disc technology Blu-ray reader
Optical drive Optiarc BC-5500A
Battery capacity 4,800mAh
Replacement battery price ex VAT £70
Replacement battery price inc VAT £81

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem yes
USB ports (downstream) 4
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
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
Audio chipset Realtek HD Audio
Speaker location Above keyboard
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 3hr 14min
Battery life, heavy use 1hr 22min
Overall application benchmark score 1.32
3D performance (crysis) low settings 65fps
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows Vista Ultimate
OS family Windows Vista
Recovery method Recovery disc
Software supplied NIT Media Maker 8