Acer Aspire 9304WSMi review

  • £499

More screen than you have the right to expect at this price

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Our Verdict

A large-screened laptop, but the specification failed to live up to expectations

For

  • Large display

    Reasonably good value

Against

  • Not overly portable

    Lacking in memory

The Acer Aspire range is aimed at consumers, so you'll find a range of interesting features. For instance, this 9304WSMi (£499 inc. VAT) sports a 17-inch panel.

This size of screen is quite rare at this price point, so Acer should be commended. That said, the screen is not the brightest and we needed to turn it up to full capacity to get the most from it.

The screen is supported by the Nvidia GeForce Go 6100 graphics chip, which is an integrated solution that works well with the AMD processor. In terms of 3D performance, you won't be able to use this laptop for gaming or anything with involved graphics, but for watching DVDs and general day-to-day tasks, it's more than capable.

Large design

Acer has recently introduced a new chassis design, known as 'Gemstone', but at this price you'll find the older and larger 'Folio' chassis is still used.

As befitting a large-screen laptop, the Aspire weighs in at 3.6kg, so isn't really intended for mobile use. The build quality is satisfactory for use on a desk as the plastic chassis is solid and the hinges on the panel hold it firmly in place.

The one weak spot of this machine was the keyboard. While the keys are a good size and the addition of a numeric keypad makes excellent use of the space available, the keys around the edge are lower than those in the centre. This is due to the way the keyboard is clipped into place and restricts usability.

When it comes to processing power, this laptop is fitted with an AMD Turion 64 X2 Mobile dual-core chip. It handled daily tasks with a certain degree of performance, but when running multiple applications, we found this 1.8GHz CPU would start to lag and slow down.

The use of Windows Vista Home Premium will be responsible for this and, while there is 1024MB of memory installed, an upgrade would help improve matters. The system quickly grew warm to the touch, especially on the right-hand side and we also found the cooling fan would constantly be running after an hour of use.

Acer includes a range of tools that help setting the laptop up a great deal easier to achieve, including everything from the integrated Wi-Fi to the 1.3-megapixel webcam built into the lid above the screen.

The Acer Aspire 9304WSMi represents reasonable value for money, delivering a large-screened machine that can be used as a budget desktop replacement. However, unless your needs are basic, you may well find yourself soon outgrowing what this laptop has to offer.