Acer produces a wide variety of laptops and netbooks and is known for its highly competitive mid-range machines. The Aspire 5741G-354G32Mnsk is a decent laptop with an attractive design and good usability, but performance and portability could be better.

Acer has produced a very attractive laptop. Internally, the brushed-aluminium palmrest and chrome finishing sets it apart from the crowd, while the plastic lid with crosshatch finish looks great, especially when compared to the Toshiba Satellite Pro C660-171.

Acer aspire 5741g-354g32mnsk

Usability is also impressive. Acer's keyboards are unique in that the keys stand off the chassis independently. Although this leaves a lot of space under each key for dust and dirt to gather, the very firm typing action is great for regular typists, with the large keys making misshits a rarity.

Acer has also managed to squeeze in a sizeable dedicated numeric keypad on the right-hand side, which is great for those who regularly input data. The screen isn't as bright as the one found on the Dell Inspiron 15R, but is sharp enough for viewing your photos and films.

The very shiny screen coating, designed to enhance colour vibrancy, produces reflections in bright light, and those that find this irritating may want to consider the HP 625 which boasts a matt finish on its screen.

Although the Acer doesn't have the most powerful Intel Core i3 350M processor available, the inclusion of 6144MB of DDR3 memory means performance is satisfactory, if not exceptional. The everyday user will have no problem with word processing, running their web browser or even more powerful multimedia software, but for a little extra money the Dell Inspiron 15R offers quite a bit more performance.

Graphical performance from the ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5470 is solid, again just pipped by the Dell Inspiron 15R, and those looking to edit photos, videos – even in high-definition – and enjoy light gaming will find enough performance here.

Benchmarks

Battery life: 171 minutes
MobileMark 2007: 217
3D Mark 2003: 9978

Average storage

The 320GB hard drive is a little average compared to many of the other laptops around this price, but provides ample data storage space nevertheless. Only those with significant amounts of data will fill it.

Unfortunately the Acer's portability isn't fantastic. The 171-minute battery life falls just short of the 180-minute minimum we expect, while the 2.5kg weight is bettered by the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 11-inch, although we had no problem carrying it around regularly.

The Aspire 5741G-354G32Mnsk is a good laptop and one we enjoyed using over a few weeks. The attractive design will definitely be a selling point for some, while usability is also good.

However, performance is a little average, as is portability, and the hard drive storage is also bettered by its rivals.

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