The Acer Aspire 6920G is part of the company's new Gemstone Blue range of entertainment-focused laptops that all sport Blu-ray drives. There's more to this machine than simply Blu-ray, though. It also boasts a speedy graphics chip, innovative touch-sensitive media controls and Dolby Home Theatre virtual surround sound. You can buy it online from laptopsdirect.co.uk for £880, but has it really got what it takes to be a top entertainer?
Like its brother, the Acer Aspire 8920G, the 6920G is certainly an attractive laptop. The lid is finished in glossy piano black and the Acer logo in the centre lights up when the laptop is turned on. Open up the laptop and you'll find a spacious keyboard that's flanked on the left by Acer's CineDash console.
Essentially, this is a backlit touch-sensitive panel that's decked out with a plethora of media controls. It looks very futuristic and slightly complicated at first glance, but it's actually very straightforward to use. It's especially useful for controlling Windows Media Center or Acer's own Arcade Deluxe media player software. The panel also has a hold button so you can temporarily disable it to avoid inadvertently triggering its controls when you're doing more boring stuff like editing work documents.
The 6920G is no slouch when it comes to performance. The combination of the Intel Core 2 Duo T8100 2.1GHz processor and 4GB of memory helped it push itself to an impressive score of 5,044 in PCMark 2005, making it one of the better performing Core 2 Duo-based laptops we've seen lately.
It's pretty handy when it comes to gaming too, as Acer has used a dedicated Nvidia GeForce 9500M GS chip with 512MB of RAM. It's not surprising that the laptop turned in a healthy score of 4,024 in 3DMark 2006. The 9500 chip also has another trick up its sleeve -- it also features Nvidia's PureVideo HD technology that offers hardware decoding of HD video; it's useful when you want to watch HD movies via the Blu-ray drive, while still having spare processing power for performing other tasks in the background.
It has to be said that movies and games look great on the 16-inch display. It's crisp and sharp, thanks to the 1,366x768-pixel resolution and because it has a proper 16:9 aspect ratio -- rather than the 16:10 used on most laptops -- you don't get any black bars when watching widescreen movies.
Toshiba has raised the bar somewhat for audio on laptops by opting for Harman Kardon speakers on its entertainment models, but here Acer has added a subwoofer, mounted just under the display, and support for Dolby Home Theatre virtual surround sound. As you would expect it never sounds like a true 5.1 surround set up, but the subwoofer does help to add more meat to the bottom end and the spatial effect succeeds in widening the stereo imaging to a pleasing degree.
If you want, you can also use the SPDIF digital audio output to hook it up to an external surround sound receiver, and the HDMI port also makes it easy to connect the laptop to a HD Ready TV. In fact, connectivity is very good as you get four USB ports, a D-Sub monitor connector along with Bluetooth 2.0 and Draft-N Wi-Fi support. To top all this off there's also a fingerprint scanner for security and a webcam and mic at the top of the display for making video calls over the Net.
On the whole there isn't much to complain about on the 6920G. As we're picky, we'll complain about the keyboard. The keys are well spaced, but they feel plasticky compared to many other laptops we've used.
Also, to really make the most of HD movies on Blu-ray, some people might prefer a 1080p screen, rather than the 1,366x768-pixel resolution one used here. This option is available if you are willing to shell out an extra £150 for the higher specification model.
The only other issue concerns the battery life. In our rundown test, it managed to keep going for just 1 hour 20 minutes. You have to bear in mind that this is an entertainment laptop that's not really designed to be used on the move for long periods. Plus, our rundown test is designed to really tax the battery, so you can expect it to last longer when dealing with day-to-day tasks.
The Aspire 6920G really impressed us. It looks great, sounds great and has a good screen. It also offers up muscular performance from both the processor and graphics chip. If you're on the market for an attractively priced desktop replacement that can take care of your entertainment needs, it's definitely worth serious consideration.
Edited by Shannon Doubleday