Acer is known for producing good-value laptops that are brimming with features. Packing an Intel Core i5 processor and Blu-ray drive, the 15.6-inch Aspire 5942G certainly delivers on the feature front, but it isn't exactly cheap. The question, therefore, is whether it offers sufficiently impressive performance to justify its high price tag.
The configuration of the 5942G that we review here, the 5942G-524G64Bn, is available now for around £920 from SaveOnLaptops and other online vendors.
A looker it ain't
The 5942G isn't exactly a head-turner. The glossy finish on the lid looks attractive enough, but the design lacks the flair of some of the more stylish laptops from the likes of Sony and Toshiba. That said, the keyboard and the layout of the controls are very good.
The keyboard uses isolated keys, similar to those found on Apple MacBooks. It's fast and easy to type on. We also love the large, flat volume dial that Acer has plonked on the right-hand side, next to some neat touch-sensitive media-playback controls. There are even handy buttons for turning Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on and off. The laptop's trackpad is reasonably large too, and your finger glides pleasingly across the surface. Acer has nestled a fingerprint scanner between the two trackpad buttons, which may come in handy for protecting your data.
It's not all a bed of roses, however. Although the screen isn't too bad, it's not the greatest we've seen either. The viewing angle is more limited than we'd like and the resolution of 1,366x768 pixels is rather lacking by today's standards. The resolution is especially disappointing on a machine equipped with a Blu-ray drive, as it means you'll need to hook the laptop up to a high-definition TV via its HDMI port if you want to enjoy the full resolution offered by Blu-ray movies.
Also, although the laptop boasts Dolby virtual surround sound, the speaker system is actually quite weedy, especially for a desktop-replacement machine. The 5942G lacks the extra bass kick that you get with some rivals that have integrated mini-subwoofers. If you're going to use the 5942G for listening to music, it's best to slap on a pair of headphones or connect it to an external set of speakers.
The laptop runs the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium, so it can take full advantage of the hefty 4GB of installed memory. Acer has also opted for a 2.4GHz, dual-core Intel Core i5-520M processor.
The 5942G managed to rack up an impressive score of 7,510 in the PCMark05 benchmark test. It delivered a similarly stirring graphics performance too, helped along by its ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650 GPU, which has a healthy 1GB of dedicated on-board memory. It helped the laptop turn in a relatively high score of 8,010 in 3DMark06, which means the 5942G will do a decent job of handling recent first-person shooters.
Although the size and weight of this laptop mean it's more suited to desk use than life on the road, its battery life isn't too bad considering its relatively high specification. In Battery Eater's intensive, battery-sapping Classic test, it managed to keep running for a respectable 1 hour and 13 minutes, but it's likely to last much longer in real-world use.
The Acer Aspire 5942G may not be the sexiest-looking laptop around, but it makes up for its somewhat pedestrian appearance with its impressive specification and performance. Although its price may initially seem rather steep, you could easily pay much more for a similar machine.
Edited by Charles Kloet