Acer Aspire 9800 20in Notebook Review


Size matters. No matter what anyone says, size plays a very important part in our buying decisions, often at two totally opposite ends of the spectrum. When it comes to MP3 players or mobile phones, we generally look for the smallest devices we can find, that will slip unobtrusively into our pocket. When it comes to televisions (especially with the World Cup looming), it’s the bigger the better, with so many of us squeezing huge screens into rooms that really can’t accommodate them.

That said, there seems to be one highly desirable product that attracts buyers at both ends of the scale, the notebook computer. Some of us – like me – are constantly looking for the slimest, lightest notebook around. Something that can be carried around in a bag without weighing you down, but still has enough battery life to give you a full day’s work on the move. But others are looking for a genuine alternative to a desktop machine, with a large screen full size keyboard and enough power to run anything you’d care to throw at it.

The notebook I’m looking at right now falls very definitely into the latter category, so much so that I’m not sure that I should even be referring to it as a notebook at all. You see the machine in front of me right now measures 490 x 380 x 60mm (WxDxH) and weighs in at a mammoth 7.8kg! The reason for the immense size and weight is that the Acer Aspire 9800 has a larger screen than any notebook I have ever seen – 20.1in to be precise.

So let’s start with that huge screen. With a widescreen aspect ratio, you’re getting a native resolution of 1,680 x 1,050, which to be honest is pretty low considering the physical size. Considering that many 17in notebook screens have a resolution of 1,920 x 1,200, I can’t help but find the resolution on this 20.1in display somewhat disappointing. Closer inspection gives some clue as to why the resolution is limited – quite simply, Acer has bolted one of its desktop monitors onto a notebook. Whereas most notebook screens and consequently lids are getting slimmer and slimmer, the lid on the Aspire 9800 is 30mm thick – it’s therefore a safe bet that it’s exactly the same panel that Acer sells in it’s 20.1in desktop monitors.

Low resolution aside, the screen in question is a very fine example. Equipped with Acer’s CrystalBrite high-contrast coating, video playback and games look outstanding, with vivid and realistic colours that just jump out at you. This is a good thing since this notebook is squarely aimed at the user that wants one machine that can be everything in one – TV, DVD player, games console and workhorse, and in many ways Acer has got that balance right.

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