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Acer Aspire 5542-304G32Bn review

A budget laptop with subdued performance, but a strong build and excellent features

Product features

  • Screen Resolution : 1366 x 768
  • Processor Core : Dual-core (2 Core)

View full specification

For

  • Great connectivity
  • Blu-ray drive
  • Dedicated ATI graphics

Against

  • Limited power
  • Portability

Acer's Aspire range covers everything from entry-level value laptops to high-performance multimedia models. The Aspire 5542-304G32Bn is a budget machine that packs in some unexpected features at a low price point.

One of the stand-out features is the inclusion of a Blu-ray drive, a rarity for laptops at this price.

While the 1366 x 768-pixel screen resolution is not enough to take full advantage of the high-definition visuals, images are still crisp and the 15.6-inch LED backlit Super-TFT display provides rich and vibrant colours.

Other features also impress, including the 5-in-1 memory card reader and four USB ports, letting you easily connect external storage and peripherals.

The 320GB hard drive is enough for storing a large number of songs and videos, while leaving space for essential applications.

This laptop features Bluetooth for wirelessly transferring files with devices such as mobile phones, or connecting a Bluetooth headset for chatting online.

Networking capabilities are also impressive, with 802.11n Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet available for wireless and wired connections respectively.

However, portability is sadly limited by an average 199-minute battery life and 2.7kg weight, so this is a laptop built to stay at home.

Performance is unfortunately another weak point, and falls short of the Asus K52F-SX065V and Samsung R530. The AMD Athlon II processor still provides enough power for running office applications and basic multi-tasking however, so anyone who wants to edit their spreadsheets or surf the web will be more than satisfied.

This laptop also features a ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4200 graphics card rather than the Intel integrated cards that are so popular at this price. While graphics performance is no better than the Asus K52F-SX065V or Samsung R530, it is sufficient for basic gaming and running simple photo and video editing software.

Strong usability

Usability is a definite strength, with Acer's usual raised keyboard design in place. Although the flat keys may not suit everyone's tastes, we found them intuitive thanks to the size and travel of the keys.

Acer aspire 5542 304g32bn

The only downside is the gaps between each key, which lets in dirt and other debris. The touchpad is one of the largest in this group, although easy to brush while typing. Thankfully there's a button for disabling the pad when not needed.

Overall, the Aspire 5542-304G32Bn is a feature-packed and highly usable laptop that is only let down by limited power and portability.

As a cheap desktop replacement for use at home it is unlikely to disappoint, provided performance and battery life aren't a priority.

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Tech Specs

Product TypeNotebook
Green CompliantYes
Hard Drive Capacity320 GB
Processor ManufacturerAMD
Optical Drive TypeBlu-ray Reader
Maximum Battery Run Time3 Hour
Solid State Drive CapacityNo
HDMIYes
Product FamilyAspire 5542
Processor ModelM300
Operating SystemWindows 7 Home Premium
Brand NameAcer
Processor Speed2 GHz
Processor TypeAthlon II
Screen Size39.6 cm (15.6")
Number of Cells6-cell
Screen Resolution1366 x 768
Standard Memory4 GB
Cache1 MB
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityENERGY STAR
64-bit ProcessingYes
Chipset ManufacturerAMD
Chipset ModelM880G
Number of Total Memory Slots2
Optical Media SupportedBD-ROM/DVD-RAM/±R/±RW
Dual-Layer Media SupportedYes
Display Screen TypeActive Matrix TFT Colour LCD
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11b/g/n
Ethernet TechnologyGigabit Ethernet
Total Number of USB Ports4
Memory StandardDDR2-667/PC2-5300
Height37 mm
Width383 mm
Depth250 mm
Screen ModeWXGA
Memory TechnologyDDR2 SDRAM
Product Series5542
ManufacturerAcer, Inc
Product Model5542-304G32BN
Product NameAspire 5542-304G32BN Notebook
Pointing Device TypeTouchPad
Product LineAspire
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberLX.PHA02.107
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.acer.co.uk
Marketing InformationThe 15.6" Aspire 5542-304G32BN Notebook features the latest AMD mobile processor technology to deliver exceptional multitasking performance, superb media experiences, and enhanced mobility. Full HD 1080p playback is made possible via the HD widescreen and superior graphics solutions. Loaded with a host of premium components, this Notebook brings next-generation radiance to your multimedia.
Maximum Memory4 GB
Battery ChemistryLithium Ion (Li-Ion)
Package Contents
  • Aspire 5542-304G32BN Notebook
  • Lithium-Ion Battery
  • AC Adapter
Limited Warranty1 Year
Bus Speed3200 MHz