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Acer Aspire Gemstone Blue Preview

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Blue is the colour of the future, apparently. We could argue, but what's the point? Everyone knows the blue LED is far superior to all other LEDs and any product that uses one immediately goes up in our estimations. Of slightly less importance than the truly innovative blue LED is Blu-ray, Sony's swaggering and victorious high-definition disc format that's now seeing wider adoption in notebooks. Dell recently announced plans to add it to its entry level Inspiron 1525 at a sub-£750 price point (see: Dell Launching Sub-£750 Blu-Ray Notebook) and Sony has been offering a similar deal for a little while now.

Little wonder, then, that other companies are readying to join to the Blu-ray fan club and Acer seems to be at the top of the queue crying "pick me, pick me". Having unveiled its new Gemstone Blue range of 16in and 18.4in notebooks in the shape of the 6920G and 8920G in the middle of March, we've been handed an advanced sample of the 6920G to see what's on offer.
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Most significant about both these new notebooks is the switch to 16:9 ratio displays, rather than the 16:10 found in most notebooks. Why? Because, as many of you may be aware, high-definition video is recorded in 16:9 resolutions, be they 720p or 1080p. This means you can watch video without unsightly black bars and though it's still nothing like a home theatre experience, every little bit helps.

These new machines also mark the debut of a new iteration of Dolby Home Theatre. Always a welcome addition to any notebook, this version adds new processing features, among them a new Natural Base function, support for discrete and virtual 7.1 channel audio and a new software application for controlling all the features included.
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Indeed, everything about this latest range seems geared towards making watching films, video and other entertainment as easy and as pleasurable as possible. Take what Acer is calling the ‘CineDash' media console, an initially slightly bewildering array of touch-sensitive media controls to the side of the keyboard. Of course, touch-sensitive controls like this are nothing new, but Acer seems to have gone out of its way to make the CineDash as outlandish as possible.

Yet, despite its garish appearance it's actually a surprisingly intuitive interface. Set into the middle is a large touch-sensitive dial that allows you to scroll up and down, with arrow keys to the left and right and an Enter key in the middle. This arrangement works very well and is perfect for navigating Media Center. Below this are the usual array of Play/Pause, Stop and Next/Previous control buttons, while to the left is a nifty volume slider. Acer has even been considerate enough to include a Hold button, so you can deactivate the console and prevent any inadvertent contact from interrupting your viewing.

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