It's been some time since we've seen a completely new design from Acer's consumer laptop range, as its machines were beginning to look a little dated. The Aspire 5920 (£800 inc. VAT) marks a radical departure from previous models, and is the first laptop we've seen to use Acer's Gemstone design.

Styled by BMW Designworks, the outside of the casing is gloss black, with a metallic finish in the centre. The light grey interior split opinion in our office due to a resemblance to computers from the early 1990s. However, it's a cohesive design and looks distinctive.

The Acer has a 15.4-inch screen. Images appear colourful thanks to a glossy Super-TFT coating, and it was more than bright enough, even in direct sunlight. As with all such panels, reflections were more noticeable than on standard TFT displays.

Making the most of the impressive screen, the Aspire 5920 has strong multimedia credentials. It uses Nvidia's latest mid-range graphics card - the GeForce 8600M GT. We found it offered good performance and, because it's DirectX 10 compatible, it will play the latest games with ease.

The laptop's build quality is impressive, with sturdy and tactile materials and an excellent keyboard. The keys are large and move with precision. Unfortunately, our review machine was let down slightly by the touchpad. Although responsive, the bottom quarter didn't work.

Touchpad aside, usability is strong. You'll find touch-sensitive media buttons to the right of the keyboard, and hotkeys to the left, making it easy to launch applications and manage your movies or music.

Although its multimedia abilities and a sturdy 3.3kg weight make it better suited as a desktop replacement machine, the 5920 has good battery life. Lasting for over four hours under test, the Acer is a surprisingly useful tool if you do take it on the road.

With the fourth-generation Intel Centrino chipset in place, Vista runs smoothly and at pace. This is the first laptop we've seen to feature Intel's Ready Boost - a Flash memory module that helps reduce start-up times - making the Aspire a speedy machine to boot.

There's a lot to like about Acer's Aspire 5920. Within the case there's plenty of power on offer, and it's a comfortable machine. The well-made chassis and sturdy materials also help it to live up to its £800 price tag.