Acer Aspire 5738DZG 3D review

30 Oct 2009

The 3D screen is inconsistent and gimmicky, and pushes up the price of an otherwise solid, yet unspectacular, laptop

Price when reviewed: 
600(£599 inc VAT)
3

3D is the talk of the display world at the moment. The big TV makers are showing off luxurious new displays, 3D projectors are beginning to appear and Nvidia has already released its GeForce 3D Vision gaming kit. We naturally assumed the first laptop to include a 3D screen would be an expensive desktop replacement but, it’s actually a £522 Acer Aspire.

The Aspire 5738DZG’s 15.6in screen sports a native resolution of 1,366 x 768 and is coated with a polarising filter which, when combined with the included pair of polarised glasses, causes different images to be seen in each eye. Much like Nvidia’s superior but dearer active shutter system, the two different images are combined by the brain to create the illusion of a three-dimensional image. It's all managed by the TriDef 3D software suite running in the background.

Viewing preview clips in 3D, though, provided mixed results. Computer-generated cartoons looked fantastic, but traditional animations fell flat, literally, with ghosting proving a real problem. Real-life clips varied in quality, too, with some showing excellent perspective and others demonstrating a more subtle difference. Viewing angles were exceptionally narrow, with a single optimal position for it to work.

The real appeal is that the TriDef 3D software also promises to convert existing DVDs and games to 3D. Alas, the effect was far less pronounced and more inconsistent than in the specially prepared preview clips. Plenty of scenes hardly looked as if they’d been converted at all, and the constant motion blur and lower resolution caused by the polarising effect made us think twice about watching entire films.

Acer Aspire 5738DZG

It may deliver mixed results, but the software does work with a commendable range of popular file formats: AVI, MPG, JPG are all supported, and popular codecs like XviD, DivX, MPEG-1, MPEG-2 and H.264 are all covered. And big names such as Crysis, Far Cry 2 and Fallout 3 are among the dozens of supported games but, as with DVDs, there are problems. While the effect was more pronounced than with video footage, especially with objects closer to the camera, the persistent motion blur proved distracting, and the occasional bug – such as textures not being recreated across both of the screen’s polarised images – immediately killed the immersion.

Sweep the 3D gimmick aside, though, and you’ll find a reassuringly sturdy laptop. The wrist rest and base feel solid and the screen – which is no thicker than a standard panel – is pretty rigid, too, even if applying pressure to certain areas on the rear does cause the desktop to distort slightly.

It’s a good-looking laptop, too, reigning in some of the entertainment excess we’ve seen on Aspire desktop replacements, but it's still unmistakably an Acer thanks to its textured, gunmetal grey wrist-wrest, blue accenting and dark blue lid.

Details

Price ex VAT £522
Price inc VAT £600
Overall rating 3
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 3
Performance 3

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 384 x 250 x 40mm (WDH)
Weight 2.840kg
Travelling weight 3.3kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Pentium Dual Core T4300
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR2
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 15.6in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset ATI Radeon HD 4570
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 500GB
Hard disk usable capacity 452GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Battery capacity 4,400mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

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
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
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 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader yes
MMC (multimedia card) reader no
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
Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 3hr 45min
Battery life, heavy use 1hr 34min
Overall application benchmark score 1.00
Office application benchmark score 0.96
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.22
Encoding application benchmark score 0.95
Multitasking application benchmark score 0.86
3D performance (crysis) low settings 42fps
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery partition
Software supplied McAfee Security Centre, Acer Arcade Deluxe, Norton Online Backup