Acer Aspire 5738PG Touch
Notebook gets touchscreen treatment
Review Plenty of notebooks supporting Windows 7 multi-touch features have already been announced, but the Aspire 5738PG Touch is one of the earliest to actually hit the shelves. Acer has entered into the spirit of the touch revolution by implementing the technology on-screen as well as on the trackpad, but more on that later.
Acer’s Aspire 5738PG Touch: if it looks big, it’s because it is big
The model we tested was driven by an Intel Core 2 Duo P8700 processor running at 2.53GHz. It was fitted with a 500GB Hitachi hard disk, 4GB of Ram installed as two 2GB SODIMMS, an 8x DVD writer and an ATI Mobility Radeon HD4570 graphics chipset with 510MB of memory. Our immediate impression of the Aspire 5738PG out of the box was of a big and very shiny blue toy. While it is certainly no toy, its size (383x250x26mm) and weight (2.8kg) are unusual in a market currently being swamped by rinky dinky little netbooks.
The unit opens using a shiny sliding catch at the front, which we found tricky to operate, to reveal a large keyboard and an even shinier screen. The keyboard features a full 103 keys and a proper numeric keypad. The key caps are big with good, minimal action, and the wide keys are really wide indeed. Unfortunately, the essential left-hand Ctrl key is still the same size as a normal character key, its width sacrificed to make room for a non-essential Fn key.
In front of the keyboard is a large trackpad with a dedicated vertical scrolling strip on its right-hand edge. A button to the right of the trackpad can be used to disable it temporarily to prevent accidental cursor movement while using a mouse or on-screen touch input. This is all good stuff: it shows that Acer has thought about the way real people use notebooks.
Sandwiched between the left and right mouse-click buttons in front of the trackpad is a swipe-action fingerprint reader. In conjunction with the supplied Acer Bio Protection software utility, you can assign any of your ten fingers to log in (in place of your password), log off, shut down, hibernate, set reminders and so on. It works reliably but you need to maintain a certain level of hygiene: a combination of greasy fingers and a coffee-and-crumb-infested keyboard will eventually get in the way.
The large track-and-scroll pad is accompanied by a fingerprint reader
Towards the back of the base, above the keyboard, Acer has fitted a series of useful button controls for altering audio volume and enabling or disabling wireless and Bluetooth functions independently. There is also a large and lonely button marked 'P' which you can use to launch a favourite program. Just the one, mind. The wireless support includes 802.11n, nothing less would do in a modern notebook.
Ah the old "small widescreen" trick
I just don't understand why anyone thinks 768 pixels is enough vertical space to us a computer for the internet. The whole "widescreen" proportion that seems to be all anyone is interested in using for laptops currently is absolutely useless for anything other than watching movies and maybe the occasional video game.
For reading web pages, using wordprocessors or any of the other regular computer tasks it is absolutely useless.
So is it a gimmick?
So is this touch screen technology here more of a gimmick?
Having played around with a couple of older tablet PCs, I can certainly see their advantage for some tasks, but it seems that a normal laptop with a touch screen is probably a bit pointless for day to day tasks. I mean, if you can't turn the screen round and use it as a tablet PC then you're going to look like a bit of a plonker prodding the screen.
Maybe there might be some uses for this afterall, the only one I can think of though is maybe for a night club DJ to select and play songs quickly without having to faff around with a mouse or touchpad.
Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if the price was a tad lower, say around the £500 mark.