Acer Aspire 5749 budget 15in laptop
How much performance does 400 quid get you?
Review Acer’s Aspire line has become synonymous with affordable computing power, providing an air of quality even towards the lowest end of the pricing scale. With an asking price of £399, the 15.6in Aspire 5749 isn’t going to break the bank and it certainly won’t be shattering records, but can so little money buy reasonable performance?
Bargain basement parts on board?
For your that kind of price, you might think Acer scraped the bottom of the parts bin and came up with a Celeron chip and a copy of Windows Vista. But fear not, you get a 2.2GHz Core i3-2330M, 4GB of DDR 3 Ram, a 750GB hard drive and Windows 7 Home Premium.
The 5749 isn't graced with a discrete graphics chip, so the task of rendering is left to the Core i3’s on-die Intel GMA HD 3000 graphics core. The result is very good 1080p video playback, but absolutely no serious gaming ability.
As far as integrated accessories go, you get a standard DVD±RW optical drive, an SD card reader and Acer’s own 2.4GHz 802.11n Wi-Fi card. There’s also a webcam built into the usual spot along the top edge of the monitor bezel that surrounds the 15.6in glossy screen.
The screen is glossy, the resolution only 1366 x 768
I’m not a fan of 16:9 displays on notebooks - call me old-fashioned, but 16:10 makes much better use of the available area - so it’s no surprise that I didn’t take too well to the 1366 x 768 resolution.
To give the 5749 its due, though, its screen is a rather vibrant one that produces a pleasing picture. The viewing angles are reasonable but nothing to really write home about, and you’ll be glad for the large range of travel the hinges provide if you’re viewing from an awkward position.
Should you decide to bypass the screen, video output can be routed through either VGA or HDMI to bring the picture to the big screen.
Solid build, uninspiring looks
This Aspire is certainly not visually stunning, but the case design is functional and seems to be built solidly. I’m not too convinced about Acer’s decision to bring all three of the USB 2.0 ports to the front corners, though. Despite its plastic construction, the 5749 still weighs in at a hefty 2.4kg.
PCMark 7 Results
Longer bars are better
Given that the case has a quality feel, it might be expected for this to extend to the keyboard and trackpad. However, the keyboard feels a bit cheap and tacky. I didn’t particularly enjoy typing on it due to the flat faces on the keys. As for the trackpad, my recommendation would be to avoid it and plug in a mouse.
I was disappointed to find that the Ethernet port is but a lowly 10/100Mb/s device, not Gigabit. Fortunately, the Wi-Fi works well and will likely outperform its wired counterpart.
Not a top-quality keyboard
As with so many PCs these days, Acer bundles a bucket full of bloatware. Sifting through this mess turned up a couple of useful (non-trial) applications in the form of Acer Backup Manager for the data integrity conscious user and Cyberlink Clear.Fi to handle your media streaming needs.
Running PCMark 7 continually resulted in a total drain of the 5749's six-cell, 4400mAh Li-Ion battery in 2 hours 15 minutes, a fairly impressive result. Acer claims that you should be able to squeeze six hours of real-world use, and I’m inclined to believe it.
A decent build
The Aspire 5749 is far from being the most powerful machine on the market, but the combination of respectable battery life and more than sufficient processing power could make this an ideal notebook for the cash-strapped. It may have its foibles, but Acer has released a decent computer at a very attractive price. ®
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