With the advent of Windows 7 a whole slew of multi-touch-enabled devices coming to market, such as the Dell SX2210T monitor and the Wacom Bamboo Touch, of which we have a review coming soon. Today, however, we're looking at the Acer Aspire 5738PG laptop, which adds its very own multi-touch enabled touch-screen to mix.
Mind you, Acer doesn't seem to have expended much effort in creating this product. Physically the chassis is absolutely identical to that of the Acer Aspire 5536 and many other Acer models besides. This means you get an attractive laptop, sporting a glossy, fingerprint-loving dark-blue finish on the lid, a piano-black screen-bezel, matte black keyboard and gunmetal grey palm rest.
Build quality is reasonably good, but the change to touch interaction does raise one issue that wasn't a real problem previously. Since this chassis hasn't been designed specifically with touch interaction in mind, the hinge-action on the screen isn't sturdy enough to prevent it wobbling after tapping it. This is very annoying and underlines the impression that the 5738PG's touch implementation is something of an afterthought.
We'll return to such concerns later, but first a tour of machine reveals the large, blue-backlit power button that's become a staple of Aspire laptops, below which are physical toggle buttons for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth (though this particular laptop doesn't actually have a Bluetooth card inside) and Acer's own backup solution.
On the opposite side of these is a very useful Launch Manager button which, as its name suggests, can be used to quickly launch applications such as the calculator or any executable you care to add. Below this are physical volume controls, though you also have the option of using keyboard shortcuts.
As for the isolation-style keyboard itself, it's quite pleasant to use. Feedback is decent if rather shallow, the matte keys emit a solid click when pressed and the layout is as it should be. Acer has even found room for a number pad with a full-size 0/Insert key, which is always useful.
Below the keyboard, the recessed touchpad is ideally positioned to not interfere with typing, but should you find otherwise, it can be switched off using the dedicated button beside it. Like the screen the touchpad is multi-touch enabled and it's large and responsive enough to make this worthwhile.
Acer seems to have heard our complaints about the touchpad's buttons on previous machines, too. While we're still dealing with a single rocker switch, both buttons offer excellent, consistent feedback - a marked improvement on the stiff, awkward efforts of recent times. Between these buttons is nestled a fingerprint-scanner, which is a useful if non-essential feature on a consumer laptop.
Connectivity is fairly good though eSATA and USB charging aren't supported. What you do get is four USB ports (two on the left, two on the right); HDMI and VGA for video; three 3.5mm audio jacks for analogue or digital surround sound support and the obligatory memory card reader. There's even a modem jack, just in case you still need one of those.