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It’s hard to know exactly where to start when reviewing the Acer Aspire 1705SCi, since it’s such a strange mix of positives and negatives. A laptop the size of a suitcase, boasting some truly exceptional specifications and yet some basic errors. In fact, is it even a laptop?
After all, how do you define a semi-portable PC that measures 378 × 320 × 55mm (WxDxH) and weighs over 7kg? And take into account, it’s nearly twice the size of a so called desktop replacement, its charging unit is as big as my shoe and I could probably be as comfortable dragging an iMac around with me.
So what, exactly, is Acer trying to do? Essentially, it’s trying to go one step further than the desktop replacement by creating a giant laptop that you use as your main PC, which can also be transported between home and the office as necessary. How has Acer tried to achieve this, beyond building the biggest luggable known to man? Well a quick look at the specs will provide a better insight. For the Aspire 1705SCi is almost half desktop, incorporating a 3.06GHz P4 desktop processor, 512MB of DDR SDRAM and full size 3.5inch 120GB 7,200rpm ATA100 hard drive. A dampener on this power packed feature set is the SiS M650 integrated graphics chipset, although a variety of nVidia GeForce chips can be specified at additional cost.
But the highlight of this product, and certainly its biggest selling point, is the stunning 17inch display. Now Acer isn’t the first company to fit a 17inch screen to a laptop. Apple impressively incorporated one into its notebook range last year and it weighs a lot less than the Aspire 1705SCi. That said, the display from Acer is truly stunning. The colours are bright and sharp right through to the edges and it can hold its own alongside most standalone TFTs. And if you play a DVD in the supplied eight-speed DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo drive, the picture will blow you away.
There’s also built-in 802.11b wireless LAN which worked flawlessly, and surprisingly, a set of integrated stereo speakers that are reasonably clear and loud.
But, of course, there is a but, and in the Aspire 1705SCi’s case it is a big one, because while its advanced features standout, the basics are a bit of a mess.
For a start, it is all well and good having a large, beautiful 17inch screen but navigating around it when your touchpad has the two stiffest left and right selector buttons I’ve ever used is another matter. Pressing the right button two or three times to get it to respond is simply ludicrous, and successfully pulling off a simple drag and drop should not make you feel like you’ve just come back from the gym. Still, if any laptop was designed to be used with a separate mouse it is probably the Aspire 1705SCi, but I still find it incredible that such a fundamental part of the machine has been implemented so badly.