Acer is one of the most prolific laptop manufacturers around, recently releasing a large number of portables under its consumer Aspire range. The Aspire 5745PG-354G32Mn is one of the latest and it's an excellent machine that's hard to fault.

Build quality is strong, with a solid chassis that's one of the sturdiest we have seen at this price. Design is minimal but sleek, with a glossy black lid and brushed aluminium finish on the palmrests.

Usability is another clear strength, with an impressively firm keyboard in place. Acer has used its standard design, with perfectly flat keys sitting slightly raised from the chassis. Some users may lament the lack of key definition, but we found it a very comfortable board to type on.

The 15.6-inch widescreen display produces stunningly realistic images, thanks to the glossy Super-TFT coating. Only the Sony VAIO VPC-Y21S1E/SI produced sharper pictures, but the extra size here makes working on documents side by side much easier.

The screen also tilts back far enough to make working on your lap a comfortable experience. What's more, Acer has added touch control functionality, so you can prod the screen to move the cursor if you tire of the touchpad.

Acer build

Acer's TouchPortal software makes full use of the touchscreen control, giving you easy access to your music, movie and photo collections with the swipe of your finger, and large virtual buttons offer excellent interactivity.

Limited portability

With 196-minutes of productivity between charges, battery life is outshone by the Sony VAIO VPC-Y21S1E/SI. However, at 2.7kg and with a reasonably thin chassis, it's still feasible to take this laptop on the road. Just remember to pack the power charger.

Performance is assured thanks to the Core i3 350M processor, and this laptop comfortably beat all except the Toshiba Satellite L670-12J. There's easily enough power on offer for multi-tasking with the most intensive office applications.

The dedicated Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics card produced the best 3D performance of this price group, perfect for those using professional design software.

The 320GB hard drive provides ample storage and only the Hi-Grade Notino W760C has more space.

Networking is fast thanks to 802.11n Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet, as with all but the HP Pavilion dv7-2045ea, and a full range of ports including a 5-in-1 memory card reader are available. There's also four USB ports for attaching peripherals, although three of them are very close together.

The Aspire 5745PG-354G32Mn is an excellent all-rounder and a worthy group winner. Portability may be a weak point, but the solid build quality, power and usability more than compensate.

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