Acer creates a wide range of laptops for both the business and consumer markets, with the Extensa brand being its budget business range.

The Acer Extensa 7620Z (£349 inc. VAT) is made from tough and durable plastic that has a grey finish.

This cheap laptop is a 17-inch model, which makes it relatively unique at this price point. It may have a large screen, but the resolution is a relatively average 1440 x 900 pixels. That said, it does offer more space onscreen than its rivals.

The design of the Extensa isn't new and has been available for 18 months in a variety of configurations. However, it remains a solid and reliable machine.

Low performance

The large screen allows for a larger than usual keyboard, which is near full-size and comes with a separate numeric keypad, which is ideal for number crunching. The keys are of a good size, but we found them sluggish to respond. This is due to the membrane nature of the keyboard, which forces you to strike quite hard in order for the keystroke to be registered.

To the left of the keyboard is a row of media buttons that quickly load your favourite applications. The touchpad and mouse buttons are on the small side, but we found they responded well.

Desktop replacement laptops are often built on cutting-edge components but, being a budget machine, you'll find the performance here rather basic. Powered by an Intel Pentium Dual-Core processor, we found performance was satisfactory for daily tasks, but the system quickly slows down if you have multiple windows open.

Weighing 3.5kg, portability will be a secondary concern for anyone using this laptop. This is compounded by a battery life, under test conditions, of 107 minutes. This limits it to office or home use.

Basic features

Acer has kept extra features down to a minimum, despite the large size. You won't find a webcam or digital outputs. This latter fact is due to the relative age of the design. However, you will find the standard array of features. The 802.11g wireless LAN connection can be switched off and, being a business-orientated machine, you'll find Gigabit Ethernet fitted as standard.

With its minimal price and business design, this laptop lacks little in the way of usability. You'll find a DVD rewriter, along with four USB ports, as well as ExpressCard and PC Card slots.

The Acer Extensa 7620Z is a big and well-built machine that makes the most of its 17-inch screen. Sadly, it isn't as powerful as we were hoping, but as long as you place screen quality above processing power, you'll be happy with what this machine has to offer.