Acer is the world's second largest laptop manufacturer and offers a range of high-quality machines at affordable prices. Combining power, mobility and a strong specification, the Aspire 5738-644G50Mn is a very attractive laptop indeed.

Despite sharing the same-sized 15.6-inch widescreen panel as its similarly priced rivals, the 2.7kg chassis is fairly heavy but not too cumbersome as to no longer be easy to carry about.

Unusually, however, it also offers an impressive 291-minute battery life, making it highly portable for those that don't mind the extra weight.

The screen features a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio. This makes it wider than many older laptop screens and ideal for watching movies and multi-tasking. Images are sharp, bright and vibrant, but the glossy Super-TFT coating makes it one of the most reflective panels we've seen.

Performance excels, thanks to the Intel Core 2 Duo CPU. Combined with 4096MB of memory, smooth multi-tasking is easy and our test software ran quickly at all times.

Build quality is generally excellent throughout, with a resilience that belies the low price. The glossy blue lid has a finish that is less prone to scratching than other such coatings we've seen, and the textured black and gun-metal grey interior is equally well made and sturdy.

This level of quality extends to the user interface. The wide keyboard features a unique design, with all the keys sitting high above the chassis. While this makes it easier for dirt to settle beneath the keys, usability is excellent, with a firm, responsive and accurate typing action.

Acer build

The large touchpad is equally usable. Gesture control functionality is provided for scrolling, rotating and zooming files and photos with your fingers. A button next to the pad lets you disable it, if you prefer to use an external mouse.

Ample storage

Storage is comprehensive. The 500GB hard drive is a decent size for a laptop so whole families can store their files with ease. The dual-layer DVD rewriter and 5-in-1 card reader also let you save data to CD, DVD and memory cards.

802.11n Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet provide high-speed wireless and fixed connectivity for the fastest possible network connections. An HDMI port also lets you connect to an external HDTV for the sharpest high-definition images.

Offering power and features far beyond what we expected at this price, the Aspire 5738-644G50Mn is an exceptional laptop and a true bargain. Even at a higher price, we would have no problem recommending it.

At this low price, there really is no reason not to take a look.

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