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Acer Aspire 5536-744G50Mn - 15.6in Laptop
Acer needs to do something about its Aspire laptop naming scheme; it's not exactly intuitive to go into a shop and ask for a 5536-744G50Mn! Nevertheless, based on previous efforts such as the award-winning Aspire 7735Z-424G32Mn we're hoping for good things from this well-specified, AMD-based 15.6in machine.
At first glance its chassis is very similar to that of its larger 17.3in cousins. It sports the same glossy dark-blue finish on its lid, which in no time at all will be adorned with unsightly fingerprints, while the basic layout is very similar. One small difference is that the lid is held closed by a slightly awkward-to-push springed clasp, but aside from this it's just a smaller version of the same design.
Thankfully, despite a shiny black bezel the rest of the machine is matt, rendered in a fairly attractive combination of gunmetal grey and black. Build quality is pretty good and there's no sign of the keyboard flex found on the AMD-based 7535G-824G50Mn.
A large, blue-backlit power button is still an attractive touch, with the largest change being that the wireless switches and backup button have moved from beside the keyboard to just above it. Though - as with the previous two Aspires we reviewed that share this design - there's no Bluetooth on-board, it's always nice to have a physical Wi-Fi switch.
In addition to the same Launch Manager button as found on the 7535G, there's also the welcome addition of dedicated physical volume controls (though no mute button) and you still retain the option of using secondary functions on the cursor keys.
Moving down to the keyboard, it's pretty good. Layout is spot-on, with everything in its proper place, intelligent shortcuts and a full number pad. Feedback is crisp, though just a tad too shallow for ideal comfort. Nevertheless, typing on the 5536 is a pleasure.
Acer has gone for a smooth (but not slippery) surface for the large and responsive touchpad, rather than the textured finish of its surroundings. Its positioning should prevent accidental palm-swipes, but if it does become an issue for you, like all recent Acer laptops the 5536 offers a backlit touchpad-deactivation button.
Multi-touch is another feature that's now almost standard on Acer's mobile machines. It works just fine here, allowing you to - for example - pinch-zoom in and out of photos and web pages, though it's still not a patch on Apple's implementation. Our only niggle is with the touchpad's buttons. Incorporated into a single rocker switch, the left side is easy to press and offers positive action, but the right button requires a bit of a stretch.