Our review sample was supplied by Save on Laptops.
Plenty of desirable laptops have appeared in 2011. Shiny, slim, light and made of metal, top-end laptops have never looked so good. But not everyone wants to shell out upwards of a grand on a computer. If this sounds like you, the Acer Aspire 5749 is a new budget laptop to check out. It costs just £399, but has enough power to satisfy most.
The 15.6in Acer Aspire 5749 is a no-nonsense laptop. It doesn't try to be ultra-slim or ultra-stylish, but cares more about value than making you fit in alongside the Macbook-owning, Starbucks-sipping masses that seemingly inhabit every urban street.
Its design is conservative, but tasteful enough to avoid looking flat-out boring. The keyboard surround and lid are made of grey plastic and inlaid with an embossed texture that's immune to fingerprints, but consigns this lappy to the land of the slightly drab. When the layout of its insides, with a simple design not weighed-down by extra buttons, has the potential too look a lot nicer, we're left wondering whether the Aspire 5749 would get a kick up the looks leaderboard if the texture were replaced with something a little more refined.
Looking beyond this surface, the laptop is a build success. There's little flex to its bodywork, and we're sure some of you will appreciate its low-maintenance, fingerprint-free appeal. Sturdiness over style is the order of the day, apparently. The screen surround is standard glossy black plastic - which picks-up fingerprints as well as any other glossy surface, but won't spend much time in congress with your digits anyway.
On-body connectivity is, as you might expect by now, functional rather than fancy. On the right edge the Aspire 5749 has two USB 2.0 sockets and a DVD multi-writer. Around the other side, there's an additional USB port, a full-size HDMI output, Ethernet port, VGA video output and the power socket.
Connectivity is topped-off up front by well-placed 3.5mm earphone and mic jacks, plus an SD card slot. You miss out on a Blu-ray drive, USB 3.0, and other less likely inclusions such as Thunderbolt, but the plain fact is that many people simply don't care about these things. Especially when they would add more than a few pounds to the 5749's otherwise-low price. There is a stand-out bullet point in the spec list to make up for the uninspiring socket selection - at 750GB the hard drive is much larger than we'd expect at the price.
What is certainly worth considering, though, is that it's not as portable as a smaller 13.3in option. With a 15.6in screen and 2.4kg girth, its best for those who want an at-home device to take out just occasionally. If you want an all-purpose travel laptop, you may be better off with something like the similarly-priced 13.3in Lenovo IdeaPad Z370.