Acer – Aspire 1825PT review

11.6-inch laptop that doubles up as a tablet
Photo of Acer – Aspire 1825PT
£699

With Apple making a big song and dance about its new iPad, laptop manufacturers will no doubt be hoping it will provoke a surge in popularity for the much maligned tablet PC.

And while the iPad relies on touch alone, the Aspire 1825PT has the advantage of a full QWERTY keyboard, which means it can also be used as a standard laptop. Of course, this results in it being much heavier than the iPad (1.7kg compared to 0.7kg), but a touchscreen is no replacement for a proper keyboard.

Traditionally, tablet PCs haven’t been particularly sexy, but the Aspire 1825PT certainly bucks this trend. And in an effort to distance itself from the bad press that always seems to surround tablet PCs, Acer is very careful not to actually call the Aspire 1825PT a tablet.

The lid has a glossy black coating (blue and red alternatives are available) with a silver rim running around the edges. The usual array of ports are found dotted around the chassis, with HDMI, VGA, audio and three USB all present. There’s also a multi-format card reader (SD, Memorystick and xD), but Acer couldn’t find room for an Expresscard slot or Firewire port.

The right side is also home to the power switch. This takes the form of a slider button, which means it’s less likely you’ll power the laptop up by accident; it’s not as comfortable to operate compared to a standard power button, though.

In an effort to keep the weight down, Acer has decided not to include a built-in optical drive. It’s a sensible decision, but it also means you’ll most likely have to fork out for an external drive to use when installing software.

So, onto that touchscreen display. It’s an 11.6-inch model with a widescreen resolution of 1366 x 768 and, thanks to the glossy coating, is able to produce some striking colours. One problem, however, is that the hinge that allows it to swivel and flip is a little too free-flowing in the vertical direction. It’s not a massive problem, but it does mean the screen has a tendency to flop down when the Aspire 1825PT is being used as a laptop.

Although the glossy coating boosts the vibrancy of the screen, it attracts reflections like there’s no tomorrow, which makes use outside almost impossible. Fingerprints are also a problem, although Acer thoughtfully includes a cleaning cloth to help restore it to its former beauty.

Gripes aside, the touch aspect of the Aspire 1825PT works well, and thanks to it having a capacitive screen only the lightest of touches is required. We had fun with the various programs Microsoft includes to showcase Windows 7′s touch-based capabilities, but when it comes to everyday use there are relatively few scenarios where the touchscreen actually helps out.

If you’ve small fingers, it’s possible to navigate your way around Windows purely by touch, but you’ll need to be extra precise when attempting to press small items such as links on a website. The old favourite of using pinching gestures to zoom in and out of photos works well, though, and when in tablet mode the Aspire 1825PT is perfect for showing off photos to a group of friends.

One feature that’s sorely missed is a pen with which to jot down notes on the screen. Windows’ handwriting recognition software is second-to-none and able to decipher even the most untidy scrawl, but on the Aspire 1825PT your only option is to use a finger to write with, which isn’t the easiest of tasks.

The Aspire 1825PT is driven by a Core 2 Duo SU7300 processor and has 4GB of memory at its disposal. As its name suggests, the processor is a dual core chip, but with a clock speed of just 1.3GHz it’s not particularly fast. Its relatively slow performance, however, does mean it’s far less of a drain on the battery compared to faster processors.

Using our power meter, we measured a power draw of 12W when idle and 18W with the CPU at 100 per cent. When we tested the battery by running the laptop at full pelt, it managed to keep going for just a few minutes shy of three hours. Given the 63Wh battery, we were expecting around three-and-a-half hours, but laptop batteries sometimes only reach their full potential after a good few charge and discharge cycles.

Acer quotes a maximum battery life of eight hours, but you’ll only get near this if you use its power management utility that, amongst other things, restricts the processor speed. Under normal use you can expect anything between five and six hours’ use, which isn’t at all bad.

As far as graphics go, the Aspire 1825PT has to make do with an Intel GMA 4500MHD integrated chipset. Playing the latest 3D games is therefore out of the question, but it is able to playback high definition video smoothly.

Other specs include a 320GB hard drive, Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n wireless and Bluetooth. Should you want to save power, a small switch on the front lip of the laptop lets you quickly kill the wireless.

Company: Acer

Contact: 0870 853 1005


Verdict
The Aspire 1825PT benefits from decent battery life and an ultra-stylish design. However, although it's always nice to be able to show off by prodding at the screen, the fact is it really doesn't offer much in terms of a boost in usability. It's also disappointing that Acer doesn't include a stylus with which to scribble down notes on the screen.