Acer Aspire 5738DZG review

The most affordable 3D laptop you can buy, but usability can be a real headache

Acer Aspire 5738DZG
The Acer Aspire 5738DZG is the world's first polarised 3D laptop

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Of course where the Acer Aspire 5738DZG stands out is its use of a polarised 3D screen, with accompanying 3D glasses. The 3D effect works by polarising each pixel on the screen, with half of the pixel polarised one way and the other half polarised another.

The lenses in the passive, non-battery powered, glasses then let each eye only see the pixels that are polarised in the same way as that specific lens – effectively creating two separate images from one.

In this way, your brain is able to then combine these two images to create a single three-dimensional image. Although the technology is extremely simple in concept, the effect produced by the Acer Aspire 5738DZG is outstanding with photos, videos and games popping from the screen with impressive depth and a truly immersive quality.

Images really do leap out at you and make you feel as if you can reach out and touch them.

A particular benefit of the Acer Aspire 5738DZG over its Nvidia 3D Vision-based rivals is the improved colour vibrancy afforded by the passive 3D glasses.

While laptops such as the Asus G51 and the Rock Xtreme 680 feature battery-powered glasses that greatly reduce the brightness and colour display of the 3D image, there is no such problem with the Acer Aspire 5738DZG – all colours retain their vibrancy when wearing the glasses.

Acer aspire 5738dzg

DOUBLE VISION: Two pairs of polarised 3D glasses are included, each with their own protective pouch

While the greatest 3D effect is, of course, provided by content specifically created for 3D use, the TriDef 3D software installed on the Acer Aspire 5738DZG also enables you to easily turn your standard 2D photos and videos into 3D, although this is far less impressive.

While some of our test photos and videos did obtain a slight 3D effect, they mostly appeared unchanged other than a slight blurring at the edges – a symptom of attempting to polarise the image.

The greatest flaw of the Acer Aspire 5738DZG's polarised 3D technology, however, is the effect it has on your eyes and your brain.

By tricking your brain into thinking it can see a three-dimensional image that doesn't really exist, we found varying side effects occurred almost immediately during our use of the Aspire 5738DZG, including slight headaches, dizziness and nausea. These even continued for several minutes after taking the glasses off. Since this doesn't happen when using Nvidia's 3D Vision technology, this is a major flaw.

Aside from the 3D usability, however, the Acer Aspire 5738DZG is a suitably powerful and capable laptop for most home and multimedia use. The Intel Pentium processor and 4096MB of DDR2 memory provide ample performance for basic tasks such as browsing the internet, running word processors and enjoying music and movies.

While we've seen more powerful laptops at this price, such as the Packard Bell EasyNote TX86 and the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge, this is still a capable machine for family use.

Graphics are similarly capable, with the ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4570 running high-definition video and even many recent games with suitable aplomb. While the Acer Aspire 5738DZG certainly isn't a dedicated gaming machine – inevitably at such a low price – we were pleased with the performance on offer.

Photo and video editing is easily possible, and market-leading entry-level applications such as Adobe Photoshop and Premiere Elements run with ease.

Whether viewed with or without the polarised 3D glasses, the 15.6-inch screen is impressively bright and vibrant, with stunning colour and contrast creating realistic images.

The glossy Super-TFT screen proves inevitably reflective, however, making it better used indoors. It is only when wearing the polarised 3D glasses that non-3D tailored content appears blurry.

A nice final touch of the Acer Aspire 5738DZG is how quiet and cool it manages to stay, even during the most intensive use. A mid-sized fan on the left-side rear of the chassis runs silently to cool the internal components, ensuring the base of the chassis stays comfortably and safely cool to the touch at all times.

As a result, you can work with the Aspire 5738DZG on your lap in total comfort, whether sat on the sofa at home or on the daily commute.