Acer’s Aspire family of notebooks continues to mushroom and it’s not hard to spot what the principal selling point of the 5745PG model is from the second it’s been powered up: its considerable touch screen capability.
The Aspire 5745PG is a 15.6-inch notebook that wisely decides to make the maximum mileage out of Windows 7′s built-in multi-touch technology by linking it to Acer’s proprietary TouchPortal system, thus ensuring that this could be a highly attractive proposition for the business person on the go who wants the most out of a comparatively low-cost machine.
Before examining the touch performance in detail, it’s worth doing a tour of the external features first. Outwardly the Aspire 5745PG is pleasingly slim (379 x 250 x 28.5mm), relatively lightweight at 2.75kg and decidedly chic with its glossy black ‘pinstripe suit’ lid and gunmetal grey work surface.
A quick scan of the sides reveals four USB 2.0 ports alongside VGA, HDMI, Ethernet and a DVD-Super Multi double-layer drive. Round the front is a 5-in-1 memory card reader which covers all the usual suspects, including the increasingly out-of-favour xD-Picture Card. Although higher spec models have a Blu-ray player in place of the DVD, it’s a shame one of the USB ports could not have been an eSATA variant.
Thankfully Acer has decided to use a full-size keyboard of the chiclet style with square-shaped keys that are a dream to type on, being firm yet responsive. Making the most of the space, Acer has also included a full-size number pad but, as we’ve seen before, this inevitably means squashing down the space for the four arrow keys, which will annoy some people. Nearly invisible at the top right of the keyboard is a button to initiate PowerSmart mode, next to the manual DVD release button.
Nothing else clutters the area around the touch pad and that’s probably because it will have sterling use for scrolling and pinch-zooming, etc. This brings us neatly to the 15.6-inch HD, LED-backlit, TFT display, which is brightly lit at the native 1366 x 768 pixel resolution and responds agilely to the multi-touch demands made upon it.
The TouchPortal icon sits comfortably in the corner of the frame, waiting to be dragged into full screen and enabling you to play and reposition videos, photos and music as well as browse the Net, search Microsoft’s Surface Globe and play some games. It works extremely well and will clearly be an asset to anyone who dislikes rummaging through folders using the conventional Windows interface.
Even the basic model of the Aspire 5745PG reviewed here was powered by an Intel Core i3-350M processor clocked at 2.26GHz, with 4GB of DDR3 memory, and was easily able to cope with most multi-function operations.
With a not-inconsiderable NVIDIA GeForce 310M graphics card under the hood, you can even play comparatively undemanding games with pleasure and the stereo Dolby Home Theatre surround speakers do make watching movies much more atmospheric than usual for a notebook.
320GB of hard drive storage should be more than sufficient for most business needs but you will have to pack your power lead, as battery longevity is only around 90 minutes at heavy usage levels, stretching to three and a half hours of light working.
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