Summary

Our Score

8/10

Review Price free/subscription

Internally, storage on our review unit was provided by a 120GB unit Seagate hard disk, but the shipping notebook will only have a 100GB drive. This is still a decent size however for a notebook. As well as HSDPA there's also 802.11g internal Wi-Fi.

The CPU is Intel Core Duo T2300 running at 1.66GHz sitting in an Intel i945M chipset. Graphics are provided by a dedicated GeForce 7600, with a core memory clock of 400MHz and 350MHz (700MHz effective) of RAM. This makes it very similar to the Zepto Znote 6214W that Spode reviewed back in June so I've compared the benchmark scores to that. There's is a difference though - the memory on the GeForce 7600 on the Acer only has 128MB of dedicated memory compared to 512MB on the Zepto. We'll see how much difference that makes.

As far as 2D is concerned we're limited to PC Mark 05 as I was unable to get either SYSmark 02 or 04 to complete on the Acer. The PC Mark05 score is pretty decent but overall it falls behind the Zepto. This is despite having virtually the same CPU score and a faster one on the memory and hard disk tests. The culprit clearly seems to be the relative lack of memory of the graphics chip.

Indeed in 3DMark 06 it falls significantly behind, even more so than we expected. At native resolution there is a significant difference with no anti-aliasing or filtering, but once these are enabled the difference is even wider. Keep the settings reasonable and you can still get a decent frame rate in Battlefield 2, but Counter-Strike: Source is barely above 30fps, which is very disappointing. Quake 4 scores are passable but the Call of Duty 2 frame rate is a washout.

The good news is in MobileMark 2005, with the Acer significantly outlasting the Zepto. The DVD playback score of 174 minutes means you’ll easily get a two and half hour movie in, which you won’t on the Zepto. It’s still not in the same league as ultra-portables though, so despite the embedded 3G you won’t be able to keep away from a wall connection for too long.

Despite the GeForce 7600 then, the Aspire 5650 is not a great gaming machine, so if you want to enjoy the benefits of embedded 3G Broadband you’ll have to compromise in that regard. Battery life is reasonable though and the notebook is adequately speedy and well specified. For Internet access on the move however, the embedded HSDPA makes this the best mobile notebook I’ve ever used.


Verdict

Thanks to an embedded HSDPA SIM the Acer is the best notebook we’ve tested for mobile connectivity. The spec of the rest of the notebook is good but on the downside its fairly large and heavy, sports a disappointing screen resolution and graphics performance is under par.

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