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Acer Aspire 5553G - Keyboard, Touchpad and Audio-Visual
As much as speed and good design are important for any laptop, if it's horrible to use then no amount of either will redeem it. Nothing is more important here than the keyboard, and though the keyboard on this machine is far from perfection, neither is it an impediment.
Its keys are large and the layout is very good, with no obvious issues. A full number pad is a useful addition, though on a 15.6in laptop like this it does mean the main part of the keyboard sits a little too far to the left for comfort. Things go a little awry with the key actions, which lack the firmness and positivity of rivals, but they're good enough and flex is kept to acceptable minimum.
A multi-touch enabled touchpad is par for the course these days, and the 5553G is no exception. It supports all the usual gestures, such as pinch-to-zoom, rotate and two-finger scrolling, all of which work very well. We also found the positioning of the touchpad directly below the spacebar ensured it didn't interfere with typing, a common problem among Acer laptops not so long ago.
Screens on laptops, particularly mainstream ones, are generally fairly basic affairs, and this is true of the 5553G. Viewing angles aren't prodigious, but are sufficient, while the screen is adequately bright and sharp for home use. For the most part colour production is good too, though some colours - particularly greens and yellows - look a tad pallid compared to similarly priced laptops.
Things are redeemed somewhat in the audio department, though. Despite only having two regular stereo speakers, the 5553G produces admirable mid-range clarity. Things get a bit muddier at the bassier end of the scale, but they're still perfectly enjoyable and are enhanced with Dolby Home Theatre processing - a suite of technologies that includes the company's excellent headphone virtualisation.