Looking around the system reveals all the connectivity you could ever want from a multimedia laptop. Naturally an HDMI port is present, as is VGA, and they are joined by a trio of audio jacks: one headphone jack; one microphone jack, and one line-out/SPDIF output. There’s also an infrared (CIR) receiver on the front edge, though its positioning is far from optimal for easy line of sight and Acer doesn’t provide a remote itself.
Other sundries include a 54mm ExpressCard slot, a mini-FireWire port, memory card reader and the ever present Ethernet port. You get four USB ports in total: three standalone ports and one that doubles as an eSATA connection for faster data transfer from compatible external hard drives/memory keys. A webcam is mounted in the screen’s bezel. It’s a decent effort and is capable of recording 720p video at 30 frames per second (fps).
All this connectivity certainly helps boost those multimedia credentials, but the 15.6in display does let the side down somewhat. It’s no better or worse than similar displays on dozens of other laptops, but given the Blu-ray drive it’s a little disappointing. Without the ghastly CineBoost mode, which we’ve already talked about, its colour production is fairly flat and unexciting and it struggles to bring out detail in dark scenes. Viewing angles are also quite shallow. It’ll do for modest demands, but anyone with more discerning taste will be left disappointed.
Audio brings more reason for cheer. Despite relying on simple stereo speakers with no assistance from a supplementary ‘sub’, the 5942G produces crisp, distortion-free audio at more than reasonable volumes. Bass, unsurprisingly, isn’t prodigious, but there’s more than enough richness to satisfy most people.
Acer also looks to enhance the media experience further with a bank of media controls to the right of the keyboard. Easily the best element of this arrangement is the volume dial, which is a pleasure to use. Unfortunately the touch-sensitive buttons themselves are a bit hit and miss. They’re logically arranged but require a firmer prod than you’d expect for ‘touch’ buttons. Their presence also shifts the keyboard slightly off-centre, which takes a little getting used to.
Consequently there’s a short period of adjustment of go through before typing feels comfortable on the 5942G. Luckily the layout is intelligent, so there are no barriers to hurdle there. The keys also offer pleasing feedback despite feeling a tad slippery.
There are three further shortcut buttons to the left of the keyboard, including separate buttons for toggling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and one further one to launch Acer’s Backup Manager. Below the keyboard is a well proportioned, smooth touchpad offering the now ubiquitous – though not overly useful on Windows – multi-touch support. Its two buttons, between which sits a handy fingerprint reader, offer decent feedback and there’s a dedicated button for switching off the touchpad as well.