Blu-ray is far from a ubiquitous feature on laptops, but even Toshiba has finally realised that any 'multimedia' laptop should have it as standard. Acer has long offered it in its range and the Acer Aspire 5942G (524G64Bn), a 15.6in desktop replacement machine, is its latest effort. It also packs one of Intel's new mobile Core i5 processors which, among other things, gives it a hefty £940 online asking price.
As ever with Acer, however, the 5942G represents excellent value once you tot up all the features. Notwithstanding the Intel Core i5-520M processor - its two cores ticking along at a brisk 2.4GHz - and the Blu-ray drive, it also offers an extremely capacious 640GB hard drive, 4GB of 1,066MHz DDR3 RAM and a decent ATI Mobility Radeon 5650 graphics card with 1GB of dedicated memory.
There's more, too. Dolby Home Theatre audio processing is included, as are Gigabit Ethernet, Wireless-N Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1+ EDR. You even get that laptop fashion item of the moment: a backlit keyboard. Throw in a fingerprint reader, HDMI and some excellent connection options and the 5942G looks to offer unrivalled value for the spec.
It's not without its compromises, mind. Despite featuring a Blu-ray drive you only get a fairly standard 1,366 x 768 resolution display. Acer tries to enhance this with what it calls the 'CineBoost Color Engine', but it's the very definition of a 'show room' feature. While it does 'boost' primary colours to create an artificially vibrant appearance, it does this at the loss of any detail at both the dark and bright ends of the scale. Luckily it can be deactivated easily via a touch-sensitive button on the bezel, besides which sits a useful on/off button for the whole display.
Neither is this a design marvel. Its combination of near black, slightly blue lid and glossy black highlights hardly breaks new ground, while the mish-mash of different materials and unsightly seams is somewhat typical of Acer's approach to laptop design. It's far from an ugly machine, though, and Acer can be commended for using less of the dreaded glossy plastic than the likes of Toshiba or HP.
Subjectively it seems a well screwed together system, too. Good quality plastics are used throughout and the two hinges are chunky, holding the 15.6in display firmly in place. We can't say how it might fare through prolonged use, but our retail review unit didn't exhibit any obvious weaknesses or potential faults.