Below the screen on the right you’ll find three shortcut buttons which can be mapped to any application you like. Pressing the far right button will activate Acer Launch Manager, which is the utility that lets you assign applications to these buttons. From here you can select the button you wish to configure, and then browse for the application that you wish to associate with it. You can also configure the WiFi and Bluetooth adapters to be either always on or always off from the Launch Manager, although this isn’t really necessary as there are hard switches for both wireless adapters.
The keyboard is one of Acer’s trademark curved examples. It seems that users either love or hate the curved keyboard – personally I’m in the former camp and have always found them very comfortable to type on. However, this particular example did feel slightly more flimsy than usual. That said, the review sample I was supplied had a US keyboard, so this may not be indicative of the UK production units.
Below the keyboard is a touchpad with a widescreen aspect ratio to match the screen. The touchpad it surrounded by a silver bezel, while the left and right selector buttons are also silver. Between the two buttons is a four-way navigation pad. The touchpad worked very well in use although the sensitivity had to be set quite high due to the high resolution of the screen.
There’s no doubt that the screen is one of this machine’s best assets, both in terms of physical size and desktop real estate. At 15.4in this screen is about a large as you can get if you want to be able to comfortably carry your notebook around with you regularly, while the 1,680 x 1,050 resolution gives you enough space to have multiple windows open simultaneously without things getting too crowded. When you consider that a 19in desktop screen only supports a 1,280 x 1,024 resolution, you can see that you’re getting a lot of window space on this machine.
As far as image quality goes, the screen is as good as any 15.4in panel I’ve seen running at this resolution, and pretty much identical to the display on the Samsung X50 that I reviewed recently (not surprising since it’s a Samsung panel). The lighting is even across the entire surface of the screen and although the colours aren’t as punchy as they would be on a screen with a high-contrast gloss coating, you’re unlikely to be disappointed, even if you’re watching a movie.