When it comes to aggressive pricing, Acer is at the forefront, offering more cost-conscious laptops in a variety of sizes and specifications than any other company. The Aspire 4920-1A2G12Mi (£499 inc. VAT) is the first Gemstone design we've seen at this price point. The look is quite retro in appearance, with a black lacquered lid that opens to reveal a cream almost grey-looking interior.

While the base design of the machine is more than satisfactory, it is when you start to look at the details you can see where the costs have been kept down. For instance, the ExpressCard slot cover isn't mounted firmly, so simply slips out and the audio jack didn't fit headphones properly.

Semi-portable

Weighing in at 2.6kg, it's a semi-portable machine, and with a battery life of 190 minutes, under test, you may well be tempted to use this laptop on the move.

The build is solid for the price, but the oval shape of the shell is awkward when using the machine out and about, as it refuses to sit neatly on a train or plane table. For this fact alone, we wouldn't recommend using this machine for the daily commute.

Better suited to being used on a desk, we found the case grew quite warm relatively quickly, with the fan constantly having to compensate. As with all the machines in this test, it is powered by the Intel Core 2 Duo T5250 budget CPU. Fitted with 2048MB of memory, this is a reasonably powerful specification for the price. That said, we found it slowed down considerably when more than one application was loaded, which contradicts the use of a dual-core chip.

Fitted with a 14.1-inch Super-TFT, Acer refers to this Aspire as a Home Theatre machine, as there are a row of multimedia buttons above the keyboard for accessing video and music files. Sadly, at this price point the buttons are blanks. While the screen is pleasing, it's not the brightest or sharpest on test and the use of an integrated graphics card means you'll only be able to carry out basic video tasks. It's fine for watching DVDs though.

The keyboard is comfortably spaced with the keys being individually mounted and having a slight degree of resistance as you type. The touchpad is reliable and while the mouse buttons are rather small, they also proved more than satisfactory.

The Acer Aspire 4920-1A2G12Mi more than delivers in terms of power and performance, with the machine sporting a great specification for the price. We found the screen and keyboard acceptable, but the finish isn't as high a standard overall as we were expecting, which detracts from a laptop with an otherwise impressive specification.