A great budget option if you want a powerful, portable laptop with good graphics and quick processing
Powerful processor for the price
Decent battery life
More storage than most rivals
Some flex on palmrests
Not everyone will like the flat keyboard
Crumbs fall between keys easily
Reflections on screen
Touchpad may be too sensitive
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Acer is one of the most prolific laptop manufacturers and its Aspire range boasts everything from budget portables to the most powerful multimedia monsters. The Aspire 5741Z is the former, a smart and surprisingly powerful entry-level laptop.
Budget machines make some tough compromises to cut costs, and one of the first casualties is often performance. However, while the Acer's Pentium P6000 processor has been around a while, it's extremely powerful. We found we could browse the web, play music and run various applications all at once, with only the occasional slowdown.
The Acer Aspire 5741Z also scored highly in our graphical benchmark tests. There's no dedicated graphics card, with the processor handling images instead, but we were highly impressed to find we could watch Full HD video and run complex photo editing suites. At this price point, that's quite a feat.
We also like the Acer's design, which is undoubtedly smarter than rivals such as the HP Compaq Presario CQ62-220SA and eMachines G627-202G25Mi. The brushed metal interior is resistant to fingerprints and belies the low cost, although we did notice some flex when you press on the palmrests.
You can comfortably carry the slim 2.5kg chassis if you need something to occupy you on commutes or long trips, while 250 minutes of battery life between charges is an impressive result.
An important feature that should never be compromised, no matter what the price, is usability. Thankfully, the Acer Aspire 5741Z's keyboard is typically excellent.
The board fills the chassis with well-sized keys, although not everyone will like the flat design and it's easy for crumbs to slip between the gaps. A separate numeric keypad can be used to enter data.
Battery life: 250 minutes
Mobilemark 2007: 195
3Dmark 2003: 3200
The Acer's touchpad is smooth and sensitive, with a scrollbar along the right edge that allows you to skip through documents and web pages. Unfortunately, we kept brushing it while typing.
While the 15.6-inch screen isn't as bright as some, we found our photos were colourfully reproduced. Bear in mind that the Super-TFT finish makes the panel reflective, so you'll struggle to see anything when outdoors. You also get an HDMI port to attach external monitors.
Other laptops at this price point, such as the HP Compaq Presario CQ62-220SA and eMachines G627-202G25Mi, come with 250GB of storage, but the Acer Aspire 5741Z has a 320GB hard drive, adding extra value. However, you'll still struggle for space if you have a large collection of music and movies.
If you want to get online, the Acer's networking abilities are fantastic.
If your budget is slender, but you need a powerful and portable machine, the Aspire 5741Z is your best option by far.
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