There is a growing market for “multimedia” laptops. This is partly fuelled by the popularity of small form factor PCs and software like Microsoft’s Windows XP Media Center Edition operating system, and now laptop manufacturers are getting in on the act. A hybrid mix of desktop replacement, improved battery life, widescreen display and decent speakers seem to qualify entry into this emerging category and Acer’s Aspire 2023WLMi fits squarely into this space.
To be fair, the 2023WLMi does break slightly from this mould in a couple of positive ways. First, at 3kg it’s at the lighter end of the scale as far as widescreen notebooks go, and second, it comes with “Acer Arcade” a utility that allows the machine to slideshow photos, play music or DVDs through its own software menu, avoiding the need to boot Windows. Neither of these aspects is particularly groundbreaking but they are welcome. The 2023WLMi also comes with Bluetooth built in - an optional extra for the majority of the 2020 range.
Other than that, the rest of the 2023WLMi is fairly standard. Based on the Intel Centrino platform, at its heart is a Pentium M 1.6GHz CPU with 512MB DDR RAM, a generous 60GB 4,200RPM HDD and a 15.4in widescreen display. Making up the other part of the Centrino standard is an 802.11b/g wireless network adapter, so you can stay connected at home, in the office or on the move.
You also get a DVD rewriter that can burn to DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW and even DVD-RAM. Graphics are taken care of by a 128MB ATI Radeon 9700 graphics chipset, so you should be able to play your favourite game on the move as well. There’s also a wealth of connectivity options, with three USB 2.0 ports, a single FireWire connector, S-Video out, 4-in-1 memory card reader, a modem socket, a 10/100 network port, PS/2 and parallel ports.
So far so good, and at £1180.88 you’re getting a lot for your money. However, a good laptop is as much about implementation as it is about features and sadly while the 2023WLMi has some very positive aspects, it also provides its fair share of disappointments.
A perfect example of this is the 15.4in widescreen display which is clear and crisp but personally, I find the illumination a little dull and lifeless. While this no doubt aids battery life (more on that later), it does make the screen look a little washed out. Likewise, styling is a mixed bag. Personally, I prefer laptops to have clean lines and stick to one primary colour but the 2023WLMi can’t make up its mind. Dulled silver on the outside but with an incongruous black hinge, then inside we are treated to Dell-like black keys, screen border and touchpad. Dulled silver pointer buttons hint back to the 2023WLMi’s external styling but are positioned above the reflective shiny silver front panel that houses the Arcade control buttons. It’s all a bit inconsistent. Even the font used on the Arcade buttons is capitalised while the wording on the keyboard is upper and lower case.