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Acer Aspire 5738PG - 15.6in Touch-Screen Laptop - Acer Aspire 5738PG
Despite the 5738PG's relatively powerful discrete graphics, battery life is fairly good thanks to the 4,400mAh (46 Watt-hour) capacity battery. In MobileMark's Productivity benchmark, for example, the 5738PG managed a decent three hours and six minutes, while two hours and ten minutes under the DVD test with screen brightness at maximum (though it's perfectly visible at lower settings) is long enough to watch most films.
Now onto arguably the most interesting element, or at least the one that makes it stand out: the touch-screen. If you can get past the screen's slight wobble, the multi-touch implementation works just fine. Obviously the physical experience isn't going to rival using an iPhone, for example, but the software actually has far more to do with this than anything.
Regardless of Windows 7 being fully multi-touch compatible, the fact remains that as essentially an evolution of Vista (itself arguably a mere update of XP in terms of interface), this OS was not designed from the ground up with touch in mind. It's simply impossible to accurately and consistently select and use some of the relatively small checkboxes, menus and buttons the 5738PG's screen resolution provides under Windows 7.
Acer has worked around this by creating its TouchPortal. This can be accessed either from the Start Menu or by tapping in the top right corner of the laptop's screen, though the latter solution proved irritatingly unresponsive. Thankfully this can't be said of the interface, which covers the basics and is relatively intuitive, though its benefits on a machine such as this aren't immediately obvious.
There are separate 'buttons' to the left for all your media, including photos, videos and music, which the software scans for on all connected devices when you press one. To the right you can access file browsing or a modified overlay version of Internet Explorer. Below these are the only applications where touch makes sense above a mouse though: games. The best example here is two-player Pong, where each player controls their paddle with a finger. This is genuinely more fun than using a mouse or keyboard, though at any angle it's awkward on a non-convertible display and would make much more sense on a Tablet PC or similar.
This mixed experience would be forgivable were you not paying a premium, but you do. At £700 the 5738PG is getting on for £200 more than a non-touch-screen equivalent, which is far too much to ask given the implementation feels like a gimmicky afterthought.
As a laptop, the 5738PG is fine. However, considering you're paying a £200 premium for multi-touch functionality that feels like an afterthought, on a wobbly, non-convertible screen and with an OS that's still easier to operate using a keyboard and mouse, it's hard to recommend it.