Acer Aspire 5520G review
The 5520G would evidently like to see itself as the determined individualist in a room of cheap-suited drones.
It's the only laptop here with an AMD processor, and the only one with 4GB of memory. And its aesthetics are completely off the wall: only the Packard Bell, with its circular touchpad, and the more understated Sony come anywhere near it in terms of style points.
Under the rounded, glossy lid is a light grey interior with sharp angles that reminded us of the Space 1999 TV show. A strip of function buttons above the keyboard have green and orange LED indicators, and a metal grille hides the tinny but clear speakers. Whatever you think of the retro-futuristic look, it's not just dressing up average build quality: the Acer feels solid and sturdy.
The downside of that is the weight, which at 3kg is in the same bracket as the Toshiba, without the excuse of a big screen. But you do get a comfortable keyboard, with only a slight unwanted bounce to it, and the touchpad is smooth and responsive, with large, light buttons and a clever rocking button to scroll windows.
In our general (2D) benchmarks, the Aspire wasn't quite as fast as some machines here. In our 3D gaming test it came top, but only by a small margin. It still won't play the latest 3D titles, though you could get away with older fare and less demanding strategy or role-playing games.
As well as being hefty, the Acer struggled to keep going for even two hours between battery charges. If you plan to watch a DVD on the plane or train, you'd better check that in-seat mains sockets are provided unless you're into short films. The glossy screen helps give a crisp image, but can hamper work under harsh lighting.
Ironically for a machine you'd be quite pleased to be seen with, the Aspire 5520G is best suited to staying at home. It's also the most expensive laptop here, so unless you're attracted by the modicum of gaming ability, it makes more sense to spend less on the Sony.