The Acer Aspire 5920's biggest selling point is its looks -- or so Acer would have you believe. It was crafted with the assistance of over 100 designers and engineers from BMW Designworks -- the folks behind the gorgeous BMW Z07 concept car. We thought it looked pretty sexy in pictures, but is it as impressive in the flesh?
We're not afraid to say Acer (or BMW Designworks) got it wrong with the Aspire 5920 -- it's hideous. We couldn't find a soul in our office who thought it was attractive. The glossy, slightly curved screen lid is trendy enough, but glossy screen lids are the laptop equivalent of jeans and a t-shirt -- nothing special. Having said that, the car door handle-style screen opening mechanism, which doubles as a webcam, looks the business.
If you thought the outside was bad, just wait until you see the inside. Don't let the white-looking pictures fool you -- it's beiger than John Major. Sure, beige is inoffensive, but it makes this laptop look like it was crafted from leftover Amiga bits.
BMW Designworks has attempted to make it resemble a centre console from one of their cars by incorporating shortcut keys on either side of the main keyboard. The left-most ones are for launching, activating and deactivating Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and launching a browser and email client. These sit next to a blank button at the bottom left -- which is reminiscent of those dummy 'buttons' you'd find on a car that doesn't have all the optional extras. It looks silly.
What's more infuriating is that the shortcut buttons on the left are mechanical, while those on the right (for controlling media playback) are touch-sensitive. We'd have preferred an all-mechanical design as it's incredibly easy to touch the buttons by accident. Doing so causes the laptop to emit an incredibly obnoxious beeping noise like a supermarket checkout. The hugely unresponsive mouse trackpad is almost as annoying.
The evidence suggests the designers know much more about designing cars than they do about designing laptops. Why else would the lone USB port on the right side sit about 1mm away from the DVD-ROM drive? Once you connect a standard-sized USB device, it physically blocks the drive bay, preventing it from opening. What's more, the logo showing the location of the USB port sits above the optical drive, and not the USB port. The word 'wrong' doesn't do it justice.
Our final design gripe is with the mouse trackpad -- it's too wide. Perhaps it's our bucket-like hands that cause the problem, but the ball of our right hand would often stray on to the mouse trackpad, causing the cursor to move around the screen just when you least want it to. This wouldn't be so much of a problem were there a button to temporarily disable the mouse -- but there isn't.