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Acer Aspire 7735Z-424G32Mn - 17.3in Laptop
As ever fewer desktop PCs find homes with loving families, we take a look at what might well be yet another nail in their coffin: Acer's newest 17.3in multimedia laptop, the Aspire 7735Z-424G32Mn. After all, with a snappy name like that it's already well on the way to stardom! Seriously though, aside from the rather tedious model number this machine appears to have a lot to offer, not least a generally excellent specification for the mere £490 it demands.
Of course with a screen as big as this you're not going to get a slim unit, but nonetheless the Aspire 7735Z manages to avoid looking too bulky thanks to its tapered lid. Build quality, meanwhile, is generally good, with no obvious weak points.
Acer's latest is also quite attractive: its lid sports a rather fetching blue veneer finish which changes shade depending on light and angle, something the photos don't do full justice to. Unfortunately it suffers from the same drawback as other glossy coatings, requiring regular maintenance to keep it fingerprint-free.
Opening the laptop up reveals a more traditional and somewhat less attractive combination of black and gunmetal grey. Thankfully all the important bits like the touchpad, palm-rests and keyboard have been kept matte, with the only glossy parts being the two strips either side of the keyboard and the screen's bezel.
Another noticeable point is that this Acer has no touch-sensitive controls. Playback keys rely solely on secondary functions along the top of the number pad, with volume assigned to the up/down cursor keys.
Above the keyboard on the right is a large green-backlit Eco-mode button to switch instantly between normal and PowerSmart modes (favouring performance and battery life respectively), while in the left strip are three physical shortcut buttons for backup, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, though the latter is pointless on this chassis as this version of the 7735Z doesn't have Bluetooth inside.
A great visual touch (though it could be a little distracting for some) is the large power button etched to look like the common power symbol with its blue backlighting. This is partially lit when the machine is charging and fully lit when the laptop is turned on.
As expected from Acer, the laptop's isolation keyboard is generally rather good. Feedback is just a tad harsh, as keys give a hard click without any cushioning, but at least it's well-defined, and the key surface, spacing and layout are all faultless. There's also a full number pad to the right, which is always a useful feature on a desktop replacement like this.