Acer has made a name for itself as the manufacturer of affordable and feature-packed laptops, and the Acer Aspire 5735-583G16Mn (£399 inc. VAT) sticks successfully to this formula.

It's the only laptop in the group to feature a 16:9 aspect ratio – with a wider, 15.6-inch screen than its rivals. It's a similar panel to those found on true widescreen laptops, albeit with a lower resolution, and is ideally suited to movie playback, mirroring the widescreen layout of the latest films.

Image quality is crisp and clear with vivid colours that also make it ideal for editing photographs. It does suffer from reflections in brighter conditions however, due to the glossy Super-TFT coating, but it's a price worth paying.

As with the other machines here, graphics are handled by an integrated Intel GMA 4500M GPU. It's the default choice at this price point – offering enough power for light multimedia use – but you'll have to spend more if you want a gaming machine.

The keyboard is the best in the group in terms of comfort. You'll find big and responsive keys that offer an ideal amount of travel. It does flex under pressure, however, creating a slightly cheap feel. The keys are large, and the screen's 16:9 aspect ratio means there's enough space for a full numeric keypad without compromising on size.

The touchpad proved equally good to use, and we found the friction-free surface makes it a comfortable laptop to use at all times.

Attractive design

In terms of design, the Aspire impressed, using Acer's familiar Gemstone design, but adding dark metallic plastics. The overall effect is cohesive and attractive. All the materials are robust, with the screen held firmly in place as you type.

In addition to its display, the powerful processor also sets it apart from its peers. It's the only laptop here to feature an Intel Core 2 Duo processor running at 2GHz, and it offers the quickest responses. We found the system loaded with little lag, making it the best laptop here for multi-tasking in speed and comfort.

Networking features are comprehensive – with the fastest fixed and wireless network adapters currently available. Those wanting to connect bulky peripherals are slightly limited, however, as the three USB ports are all situated next to each other.

This machine also falls behind the Advent and Samsung in lacking support for digital or high-definition (HD) displays. Connectivity aside, the Aspire 5735 is the most impressive machine in this group.

With its cutting-edge design, comfortable interface and powerful performance, it's the ideal choice for business users and regular consumers alike.