With the netbook came unprecedented demand for teeny-tiny laptops, with teeny-tiny screens. Then we all started streaming TV onto our little lappies 24/7 and suddenly we weren't so happy with our minute screens.

Now we're seeing far more demand for panels over and above even the old-school 15-inch standard, though interestingly not just in the thousand squid desktop-replacement sphere.

Acer's latest Aspire machine, the 7740, boasts a rather mammoth 17.3-inch screen in proper 16:9 format. That means a pleasing 1,600 x 900 native desktop resolution, perfect for those widescreen cinema classics.

The panel is only powered by Intel's latest mobile Arrandale Core i3 processor's integrated graphics, though. In 3D terms, then, you're getting a bit of a raw deal. But in terms of HD playback you're not going to be left wanting.

More life in her

What you do get, though, is a much better battery life than you would expect to get with a dedicated GPU. The Aspire 7740 manages a pretty darned impressive two hours 46 minutes of use – and that was playing back high-definition content with Wi- Fi enabled.

It's by no means the perfect laptop, though, and typically it's the dodgy lappy speakers that let it down. The actual bass response and all-round sound is pretty good; unfortunately they were also a little crackly during playback.

And that's a great way to completely ruin the otherwise smooth-as-silk 1080p video. But we always expect laptop speakers to be a massive letdown. Besides, if they weren't it would just be encouraging numpties on trains not to use headphones because everyone must love the compilation of Family Guy songs they've made...

Otherwise, then, it's a decent widescreen lappy. The screen is big and quite beautiful, the build quality is excellent and that 500GB HDD is large enough for most needs.

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