Acer's Aspire 6920G has a large 3.3kg chassis and so is best suited for desktop use.

Basic mobility is possible, but the weight becomes uncomfortable on longer journeys. Build quality is generally strong, but the glossy finish quickly attracts fingerprints and is easily scratched, so suitable protection is recommended.

Widescreen display

The AC power port and Kensington lock slot are fitted at each end of the screen hinge and surrounded by stylish blue lights. Removable plastic caps keep them protected, but they easily fall off and could be quickly lost.

Usability is excellent. The full-size keyboard has a firm typing action and is both smooth and accurate at all times. The keys are slightly glossy, however, which can cause reflections when used under bright lights, but not enough to hinder usability.

The 16-inch screen uses a 16:9 aspect ratio, rather than the 16:10 layout of most laptops. This lets you watch widescreen movies in their native resolution, and almost entirely removes black borders from the top and bottom of the screen.

Blu-ray drive

Since the high-end model features a Blu-ray optical drive, HD movies can also be played. The bright and colourful screen is ideal for this and also for viewing digital photos, and the built-in HDMI port also lets you connect to larger HDTVs.

Extra features include an integrated camera above the screen for capturing photo and videos and a fingerprint scanner for restricting access to your laptop. There is no FireWire port, however, but the four USB ports ably compensate.

With its cutting-edge style, great usability and multimedia-focused features, the Aspire 6920G is a powerful and affordable media centre. Both the high-end and entry-level models impress in their own right, and are easy to recommend.

Price comparison

With a £450 price difference between the two Aspire models, there's plenty of reason to expect improved power and usability from the higher-end machine. Acer delivers on both counts with this fantastic multimedia laptop.

The Intel Core 2 Duo processor not only has a faster clock speed, but also uses more up-to-date CPU technology. Performance is improved over the entry-level model, and is among the best we've seen recently.

Whether working on standard office applications or performing complex high-definition (HD) video editing tasks, performance is consistently fast and stable. This allows near flawless usability for both multimedia and home office use.

Storage is also improved. The 320GB hard drive provides an extra 70GB of space. Huge quantities of work, photos and HD videos can be stored. Even if this laptop is used for the whole family, the hard drive won't be quickly filled.

HD entertainment

The optical drive provides read-only playback of Blu-ray discs and can write data to most standard DVD and CD formats.

To improve HD performance, the screen has a higher resolution than its entry-level peer. The 1920 x 1080-pixel screen lets HD content play in its native resolution to deliver the sharpest image quality currently available on a laptop.

A final touch is the use of Windows Vista Ultimate. This is the top-of-the-range version of Microsoft's OS and is packed with Media Centre and data back-up tools.

The Aspire 6920G is an excellent laptop, and the money is well spent if you're seeking a powerful HD media centre.