Review Price free/subscription
Acer is, in many ways, the sleeping giant of computing. It might lack a little of the brand recognition of Dell or HP, but in recent times it has snuck up upon both to grab a convincing third place in the personal computer market and is the market leader in many territories. A lot of this success can be attributed to some seriously competitive pricing since, if you're looking for a bargain, an Acer is always a good place to start.
As is the case with its latest effort, the Aspire 6935G; a Centrino 2 refresh for its Gemstone Blue range that launched in April. Based on a 16:9 aspect ratio 16in display, the version we have here manages to cram every conceivable feature into its desktop replacing frame, including a Blu-ray drive, a digital/analogue TV Tuner and Dolby Home Theatre audio while still slipping comfortably below the £1,000 barrier, costing just £910 after the VAT cut.
This is a pretty good effort and it's not as if Acer has skimped on other features, either. Powering it all is an Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 running at 2.26GHz. This is backed by 4GB 800MHz DDR2 RAM and there's a fast 7,200rpm 320GB hard drive. Graphics come courtesy of an nVidia 9600M GT with 512MB dedicated memory, which powers the 1,366 x 768 resolution display that, being 16:9, is ideally suited to watching films and other content intended for TVs.
You also benefit from all the usual trimmings, including Draft-N Wi-Fi courtesy of Intel, Gigabit Ethernet and Bluetooth 2.0+ EDR. Also included in the box is a remote control. This isn't the ExpressCard style effort we seen in some laptops, but a proper fully fledged media remote. This is obviously ideal given the machine has a TV Tuner, making armchair use that bit easier. It's a good remote, too, with a logical layout and a particularly good four-way pad with a very positive button mechanism. This is true throughout so this isn't the kind of included remote you'll be replacing straightaway, quite the opposite in fact.
The remote is joined by something we've seen before when we reviewed the Acer Aspire 8920G, the 18.4in variety of this range; the Acer CineDash. This rather lofty title is given to the slightly intimidating backlit media controls that sit to the left of the keyboard. These are well tailored for controlling Media Center, are responsive and in some ways quite intuitively arranged, especially the volume arc. However, we're still not totally convinced that they're needed. Eye-catching it all may be, but when sitting at the machine why wouldn't one use the cursor keys and the Enter key instead of the CineDash and couldn't something simpler do the job just as well?
This is particularly relevant given that its presence means an ever so slightly off centre orientation for the keyboard. It's something one gets used to, but if you're forced to accept something like this we'd sooner have a useful feature, like a full numeric keypad. Happily the keyboard itself isn't too bad. Keys feel firm and positive while the layout doesn't feature any of the annoying quirks we often cite on notebooks.