Despite being a less well-known brand name than high-profile rivals such as Sony, Acer has gained successful business selling high-quality laptops at affordable prices. This trend continues with the Acer Aspire 9412WSMi (£899 inc. VAT).
At 3.7kg, the Acer is designed primarily for desktop use. Measuring 401 x 283 x 42mm, its increased chassis size allows for a bright 17-inch Super-TFT screen, suiting the Acer perfectly to home multimedia use.
Usability benefits equally from the extra chassis space. A near full-size keyboard is in place, accompanied by a number-pad. All the keys are well designed and responsive, and the extra numerical keys suit gaming as much as they increase business usability.
Less ideal for multimedia and gaming use is the inclusion of an nVidia GeForce Go 7300 graphics card. Scoring just 3370 points from 3DMark 2003 tests, the Acer won't drive the latest 3D games, but mild gaming and full DVD video use is possible from the GPU.
Where the Acer's real strength lies is in home and office performance. Despite being fitted with a 1.66GHz Intel Core Duo T2300 processor, impressive internal design allows it to be surprisingly powerful.
With 1024MB of DDR2 memory backing up the processor, the Acer scored an impressive 236 points from MobileMark 2005 tests. This makes for powerful day-to-day performance.
Just as pleasing are the storage options. Via a two-spindle chassis design, the Acer carries a 120GB hard drive for fixed storage, along with a tri-format recordable DVD drive. Allowing users to write data to all existing recordable DVD formats, dual-layer support is included.
While its size and weight won't suit long-term mobility, its 239 minute battery life, under test, is extensive for such a powerful desktop replacement system.
The system also includes high-speed network options. Gigabit Ethernet allows for the fastest possible fixed connections, while its Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG Wi-Fi card provides optimum wireless data transfer speeds in the UK and abroad.
Providing power and performance far beyond its price tag, the 9412WSMi would stand out even if it were more expensive. At this price, however, it's even harder to find fault with this highly impressive laptop. Alex Bentley, Michael Browne