Unlike some previous Acer laptops we’ve looked at, such as the Aspire Timeline 4810T, the placement of the 7735Z’s touchpad means it doesn’t suffer from accidental palm swipes. In the highly unlikely case that you do still encounter this problem, you can always deactivate the touchpad using a large, orange-backlit button beside it.
On the topic of the touchpad, it’s also pretty decent. Acer has gone for the same pleasant textured surface on both the laptop’s palm-rests and the pad, which is only demarcated by being slightly indented and offers excellent sensitivity.
Our only complaint concerns the pad’s buttons, which are integrated into a single rocker switch. Considering how many laptops Acer churns out, you’d think it would get something as basic as this right. Due to the large, unresponsive zone in the middle, the useable area of each button is very small. Moreover, even when you do manage to press one, the buttons feel stiff and lack feedback – right-clicking is especially awkward. One wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s a deal-breaker, but it could be better.
Moving onto connectivity, the 7735Z furnishes you with all the essentials, though eSATA and an ExpressCard slot are notable absentees. On the left we have the power jack in the laptop’s large hinge, followed by a Gigabit Ethernet port, VGA and HDMI video outputs, two USB ports spaced well apart (another plus point for Acer’s design team) and three 3.5 audio jacks for analogue surround sound, one of which doubles as a digital output.
Neatly tucked away under the machine’s protruding lip at the front is a memory card reader that will take the usual suspects such as SD/HC, xD, and MS/Pro. Along the right, meanwhile, you’ll find a further two USB ports, tray-loading DVD-Rewriter, modem port (undoubtedly still handy for some) and the lock slot.
As this Acer is rather large and proudly sports both Dolby Home Theater and Virtual Surround logos, we were hoping for a decent performance from its speakers: we weren’t disappointed. Sure it still can’t match a good set of external speakers, but the thumping bass and deep soundstage on offer here could well go up against the likes of Toshiba’s Satellite series, ensuring you can enjoy music and videos without immediate recourse to a set of headphones.
While the speakers are above average, the 17.3in display is just okay, which is no surprise given the sub-£500 asking price. Its 16:9 aspect contains a roomy 1,600 x 900 native resolution, giving you a little more real-estate than your typical 15.6 or 16.4in laptop. Dark detailing is reasonable and the backlight, though slightly uneven, doesn’t bleed at the edges. Small text could be sharper and viewing angles are inevitably quite shallow, but overall we can’t see many people having cause for complaint unless they particularly dislike glossy, reflective screens.