Acer Aspire 8735G review
With an 18.4in screen, Acer's Aspire 8735G is one of the biggest desktop replacement laptops you can get for less than £800. The deep blue finish on its lid looks sleek, but the laptop's built like a tank, down the pitted gunmetal-grey finish on its inner chassis. Like most desktop replacements, it's small enough to move from place to place but far too big to comfortably use in most train or aeroplane seats.
At two hours and 40 minutes, its battery life proved slightly better than we expected, although it's still too short for serious use on the move. This is unlikely to be a problem, as the laptop's 4kg weight makes it prohibitively heavy to carry around.
Once happily planted on a desk, the Aspire 8735G comes into its own. The 18.4in 1,680x945 display is big enough to take the place of a TV in a small-to-medium sized room if you add a USB TV tuner. The Blu-ray drive means you can watch the latest HD movies and the screen size makes it worth the effort, but we'd have preferred a 1080p screen. The 512MB Nvidia GeForce GT 240M graphics card can output 1,920x1,080 via the HDMI output if you have a suitable monitor or HDTV to connect it to.
We were suitably impressed by its audio quality and the software enhancement provided by Dolby Home Theatre audio drivers. The built-in 2.1 speakers are astonishingly good for a laptop, with plenty of bass and a full, well balanced sound, although it's not massively loud. We were also very taken by the illuminated touch-sensitive volume control slider at the right of the laptop. You can also connect 5.1 speakers via three analogue 3.5mm stereo ports or optical S/PDIF.
Despite its formidable size, the 8735G is sadly lacking in some other departments. Many similarly priced laptops use Intel's new mobile Core i5 processors, making the Aspire 8735G and its 2.2GHz Core 2 Duo T6600 look seriously underpowered by comparison. This goes some way to explaining the laptop's relatively poor overall score of just 64 in our benchmark tests.
It's not an ideal choice for gaming either, despite a high resolution and generous screen size that would work well for gaming. At 1,280x800, we got a playable 24.4fps out of CoD4, but had to put up with a slightly jerky 19.6fps at 1,680x945. Although its processor isn't particularly powerful, a faster graphics processor with more memory could have made the 8736G a reasonable option for gamers. The 320GB hard disk is also somewhat stingy.
The Aspire 8735G is extremely well built, with a comfortable keyboard and well-positioned touchpad, but the wrist rest can feel a little warm once the laptop has been on for a few hours. There are four USB ports, but no eSATA port. A built-in card reader can handle SD, SDHC, Memory Stick PRO, MMC and xD formats. Networking is supplied by an 802.11n adaptor and a Gigabit Ethernet port.
The Aspire 8735G is a well-built desktop replacement with a massive screen and good built-in audio. However, its older processor and the lack of a 1080p screen at this price are disappointing. At this price Sony's Vaio EC1S1E, with its 1080p display and Core i5 processor, is a better choice.
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