At the rear of the notebook you’ll find both DVI and D-Sub and S-Video outputs, another two USB ports and a 56k modem connector along with the AC power port. The placement of the USB ports on both the left and the rear is good though ideally I would have like to have seen on the right too.
The display on the Aspire 5650 is a 15.4in widescreen, which is nice and large but I would have liked to have seen a higher resolution that the 1,280 x 800 supplied, which is merely passable. The screen has a high contrast coating and colours do look rich and vibrant on the screen but vertical viewing angles are virtually non-existent. It’s better to the sides but not by much. It’s contained in a shiny bezel, which is quite attractive.
The keyboard is decently sized and it felt quite firm under the fingers. It was fine to use most of the time but occasionally my fingers would catch on the edge of the keys. The trackpad is functional and between the two buttons is Acer’s rocker switch for scrolling up and down and side to side in web pages. There are some nice touches as the icon message pops up when you hit the Caps Lock key, which is useful if you do it accidentally. The space isn’t full size but it’s big enough but the Enter key is smaller than a desktop keyboard but still large enough. There’s a dedicated Euro key next to the shift. Volume and brightness are on the arrow keys and available via the Function shift key.
Above the keyboard are four shortcut keys. These can be assigned to what you want but default to email, web browser and Acer’s ‘ePowering’ software utility. This provides access to a range of functions such as display profiles, power management and security. I found the ePower option really quite useful. I found my wrists were getting quite warm while typing with the hard disk on the left and the battery on the right. I created a profile that throttled the CPU right down as all I was doing was typing and web browsing and the notebook actually did cool down.
Down the right of the keyboard are buttons for controlling a media player, which is pretty convenient, though the keys themselves are quite small. The integrated speakers are quite tinny, which means I wouldn’t want to sit and watch a DVD movie on this without listening on headphones.
If you want to use it as a DVD player then at the front you’ll find an S/PDIF out, though if you’re outputting to an amp you’d probably prefer it at the back. However, the SP/DIF doubles up as headphone socket so that’s why it’s at the front. There’s also a line-in and a microphone socket. Next to these are sliding switches to activate that Wi-Fi and Bluetooth as well as the embedded 3G as I mentioned earlier.
Down the left hand side you’ll find two USB ports, and a Gigabit Ethernet socket. You’ll also find a SD card slot, an infra-red above that and a mini-FireWire port. Alongside this there’s a PC Card slot and below this there’s an Express card slot. On the opposite side you’ll find a slot-loading DVD Burner.