Review Price £999.99
When it comes to replacing a desktop PC with a more elegant modern solution there are many approaches one can take. Some might prefer a semi-portable 15 or 16-inch laptop, others a more permanent all-in-one PC such as the Apple iMac or MSI Wind Top AE2220 Hi-Fi. One other choice is a hybrid of the two: a 17 or 18-inch laptop that's so large as to be essentially non-portable, but can still be stowed away discreetly when the need arises or thrown in the back of a car when on the move. If the latter is your preference, the Acer Aspire Ethos 8943G might be for you.
With an 18.4-inch screen and a scale busting 4.6kg weight, the 8943G isn’t exactly a featherweight. As such, though you can at least move it around, the Acer won't be going anywhere in a hurry. Not that there's anything sluggish about the hardware, however. A quad-core Intel Core i7 processor is the star of the show, which starts at 1.6GHz but can be 'turbo clocked' to up to 2.8GHz depending on how the load is spread. Just in case this wasn't enough this particular version has 12GB of DDR3 RAM as well.
This goes some way to explaining this model's £2,000 asking price, but there's more. You also get two 640GB hard drives (totalling 1.28GB), all the Wi-Fi, Ethernet and Bluetooth you could need, and a 1GB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5850 that should offer some decent gaming performance. Also included is a TV Tuner, with a remote to go with it, and a Blu-ray player. If this is all a bit rich for your blood then there's a cheaper £1,200 version, which ejects a hard drive, downgrades the graphics and has a more sensible 4GB of RAM.
It's not just the hardware that makes the 8923G expensive; Acer has also invested in the design and materials to go with it. Its resultant exploits are a mixture of sumptuous, classy design and less auspicious tackiness. We love the brushed metal lid and body, and it works well with the plainer dark-grey palm-rest. Unfortunately things are marred by one or two ill-advised moments of naff-ness.
For example, Acer has used tacky looking faux-chrome in several spots, such as on the end of the hinges, around the middle click button on the touchpad and the volume dial on the front edge. The speakers above the keyboard look overly fussy, too. Our ire is especially reserved, however, for the piano-black touchpad. In its muted, classy surroundings, it's an eye-sore.
However it's an eye-sore with a trick up its sleeve, as hitting the middle button activates a set of backlit media controls in the touchpad. Of all the various attempts at clever media controls Acer has attempted - and there's been a few - this is easily the best. It's neat, unobtrusive and effective, though the over-stylised icons could with some work.