Having listened to an Acer representative gush about the design of its new Aspire series at its recent product launch, it struck me that the company hasn’t necessarily been renowned for excellence in this area. Its monitors immediately spring to mind, with the likes of the AL2623W 26in display, and AL2216w 22in display, not demonstrating a great deal of panache. It must be conceded, however, that in this case Acer has good reason to gush.
Designed under commission by BMW Designworks, the new Aspire range utilises a ‘Gemstone’ design focus that has generated a distinctive and unique look. On the outside one can genuinely see that 'Gemstone' idea in the shape and finish. Though the notebook is obviously rectangular in shape, the subtle use of curves gives it a pleasant oval shaped quality, and the shiny pearlescent black finishes off the look beautifully. Importantly, this gives the 5920 a real sense of quality before you've even opened it up and started using it.
Inside things are less dramatic, but no less lacking in quality. Acer has chosen to go for a beige/cream coloured ceramic style finish, which I, for one, rather like. It provides a high quality, but different, look and feel and adds a welcome sense of lightness compared to the dark exterior. Some may find it an acquired taste, but given time it grows on you.
The inside is also punctuated by continued attention to detail. Although our sample came with a US keyboard layout there can be few complaints. It's very rare that one comes across a notebook keyboard that doesn't garner some kind of complaint, but this is one such occasion. It avoids all the common pitfalls; the left-hand Ctrl key is in its proper place on the far left, both Shift keys are of a good size as are the Return and Backspace keys. Similarly, the keys themselves are crisp, light and even.
Either side of the keyboard are shortcut keys, with media playback keys on the right and miscellaneous functions such as Wireless, Internet, Mail and Bluetooth on the left. Interestingly the media keys on the right use an unusual touch sensitive mechanism, the sensitivity of which can be set using the provided software. It's just as well you can adjust the sensitivity too because at the wrong settings it can be very easy to activate them accidentally, which is never a good thing.
Other neat touches include USB logos on either side which indicate where the USB ports are, as well as a middle click button that doubles as a scroll wheel, and the 0.3 Megapixel camera that's cleverly integrated into the clip for the lid. These are all part of the greater design ethic of the Aspire range, and in this it's very successful.