Acer Aspire 5652WLMi review
Last month we looked at Dell's Latitude D420, the first notebook we'd seen with a built-in 3G data card. Acer's Aspire 5652WLMi is also 3G capable, but rather than being a tiny ultra-portable it's a fully equipped multimedia notebook.
The D420's data card has a Vodafone SIM hardwired into it, so you'll have to replace the card if you want to change network, but the Aspire is arranged just like a mobile phone: simply remove the battery, and there's a standard SIM card slot beneath it. You can get a 384Kbit/s internet connection using 3G in most UK cities. This card doesn't support the High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) standard, though, which allows for three times that speed in and around London. T-Mobile is currently offering its unlimited 3G data service for just £20 a month. This is excellent value and a cheap way to use the Aspire's wireless service.
The Aspire is fully equipped to entertain home users. There's a hybrid TV tuner that benefits from the excellent Acer Arcade software. This will let you browse your media files as well as play back DVDs or schedule TV recordings for recording to the 100GB hard disk. The notebook is also capable of playing modern games, although you'll need to reduce the detail levels to get a smooth frame rate.
The 15.4" display will make the most of your favourite games and TV programmes. It produces a clean white and is bright with no sign of graininess. Other image tests showed it handled subtle shades well. Because of this our HD movie test looked stunning. However, you'll need some external speakers or headphones, as the built-in speakers aren't loud enough.
The processor and 1GB of RAM combined to produce an impressive 125 in our application tests, which is plenty of power for all but the toughest tasks. Battery life is an acceptable two hours and 46 minutes.
The chassis is slim, but has all the ports you'll need. There's even a memory card reader and a stylish slot-loading DVD writer. Convenient sliding buttons on the front edge enable or disable WLAN, 3G and Bluetooth connections. The keyboard flexes a bit when you type, but the individual keys have decent travel and feedback. The touch pad is large and accurate, too.
The Aspire 5652WLMi is a good all-round entertainment notebook for the home at a reasonable price. We are puzzled by the inclusion of the 3G card in such a notebook, especially given the average battery life. However, it might prove handy, especially as T-Mobile's service is so reasonably priced.