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Acer Aspire 5672WLMi review

Verdict

An extremely well-specified notebook for the money, but the TFT doesn't match up to the competition

Review Date: 20 Apr 2006

Price when reviewed: (£1,120 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Seven notebooks this month provide 100GB of hard disk space, but despite being far from the most expensive on test the Acer Aspire 5672WLMi boasts 20GB more. And not content with that, there's a whopping 2GB of PC2-4200 memory - twice as much as the nearest competitor.

Every tickbox is checked: a slot-loading DVD writer handling dual-layer media and DVD-RAM, a Mobility Radeon X1400 graphics card and an integrated webcam.

With its Core Duo T2300, the 5672WLMi posted the fourth-fastest Overall 2D score of 0.95. While the huge memory meant there were no bottlenecks in the RAM department, it hasn't boosted performance to any degree, and we can't help but wish Acer had stuck with 1GB and instead fitted a better graphics card.

The X1400 managed an average of 21fps and 20fps for Far Cry and Half-Life 2 respectively. This drops to 12fps a piece with 4x anti-aliasing and 8x anisotropic filtering enabled. With quality levels at moderate settings, both games just about became playable at the TFT's native resolution.

Other nods to entertainment include playback buttons beside the keyboard and Acer's Arcade application, which is a Media Center-style interface. The TV option builds up expectations, but there's no built-in TV tuner.

The 640 x 480 webcam gives dire results at default settings, but turn off the low-light option and you'll get a far better frame rate. Thankfully, a microphone is integrated too.

Typing is a pleasure on the well laid-out keyboard. It's nice to see Control and Delete keys in opposite corners, and the whole unit is well built. For convenient access, the four USB ports are placed two on each side. In fact, the Acer has more ports than most: there's a DVI interface in addition to VGA, as well as S-Video output. Plus, there's an ExpressCard/34 slot and mini-FireWire. Naturally, Wi-Fi is integrated and supports 802.11a/b/g standards.

The only disappointment was the TFT, and this means the Acer misses an award. Placed next to any other notebook in the group, the glossy 15.4in 1,280 x 800 widescreen panel lacks both brightness and crispness. Plus, it's surrounded by glossy plastic that quickly attracts fingerprints.

Battery life is poor at a touch under two-and-a-half hours for light use and an hour less for intensive use. Fan noise won't prove a distraction; we measured 30dBA in our tests.

The one-year collect-and-return warranty is nothing special, but if this, the battery life and screen brightness don't bother you the 5672WLMi is a fine alternative to the winners, especially if you need the extra hard disk space.

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