Acer has a reputation as a manufacturer able to fill every person's laptop needs, due to a wide range of machines. With silver and gloss-black styling, Windows XP Home, and a 16:9 aspect ratio Super-TFT screen, the Aspire 5612WLMi (£799 inc. VAT) is aimed at the home user.
The 15.4-inch screen has a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels (WXGA) and a glossy Super-TFT coating, with vibrant and clear results. The Acer stands out due to its nVidia GeForce Go 7300 dedicated graphics adapter.
With a 3DMark 2003 score of 2578 the Acer is able to play older games in reduced resolutions, but struggles with the latest 3D offerings. However, PowerPoint presentations, DVDs and general office applications do not pose a problem.
The widescreen creates plenty of room for a large keyboard. We found the keys well-weighted and comfortable to use, but quality could be improved. We noticed some of the buttons felt poorly attached and moved in unwanted directions under the slightest pressure.
This lets down what is otherwise a well-constructed machine, with a strong chassis and sturdy plastics used throughout. A responsive touchpad enhances usability, and a series of hotkeys launch applications such as Internet Explorer. Measuring 357 x 266 x 40mm, the Acer isn't intended to be taken to work each day, but mobility is helped by a 2.8kg weight.
A 1.66GHz Intel Core-Duo T2300 processor is backed by 1024MB of DDR2 memory and 100GB hard drive, running at 5400rpm. This helped the Aspire to a MobileMark 2005 score of 241, which is higher than any machine we've tested to date in the sub-£800 category.
The Aspire can run multiple applications without sign of lag, and the battery life does not suffer despite strong performance, lasting a useful 227 minutes, under test.
The Aspire 5612 does a decent job of balancing cost, performance and features. You'll find an 802.11g Wi-Fi adapter to connect to wireless networks, and fixed networks can be configured with the 10/100 Ethernet adapter.
Usability is hampered slightly by a lack of Bluetooth or Firewire, so those wanting to connect digital devices will have to do so by one of the four USB 2.0 ports. The dual-layer multi-format DVD rewriter is a welcome inclusion too.
With stunning performance, reasonable graphics and a decent build quality, the Aspire 5612 WLMi is a lot of machine for your £799.