Acer – Aspire 9303WSMi review

powerful Turion laptop with 17-inch display
Photo of Acer – Aspire 9303WSMi
£650

There’s no getting away from the colossal size of the Acer Aspire 9303, and it’s all thanks to the 17-inch screen. This model measures 400 x 294 x 42mm and weighs in at a hefty 3.6kg, so you’re going to struggle to carry it around when you’re on your travels.

The screen has a resolution of 1,400 x 900 which is a typical specification for a 15.4-inch widescreen laptop but on this model the screen looks rather grainy. That’s a bit of a shame as the Acer runs Windows Vista Home Premium which puts an emphasis on cosmetic looks, with its Aero interface, so in that respect it’s a bit of a let-down.

However, there’s a balancing argument. If you have weak eyesight you’ll often find that the icons and fonts in Windows are too small for comfort and a high resolution screen only makes the situation worse. Plonk the Aspire 9303WSMi on a desk and you’ll find that pensioners take to it like ducks to water, just so long as you don’t ask them to pick the thing up.

Inside the chassis there’s an AMD Turion X2 TL-52 dual core processor which runs at 1.60GHz, with 1GB of PC2-4300 memory on an Nvidia GeForce Go 6100 chipset. Also present is a GeForce Go 7300 graphics controller and a 160GB hard drive. This combination of components gives a decent level of performance in all departments and if you fancied it you could play a variety of current games. It certainly has enough processing and graphics power to run Windows Vista and you won’t suffer any noticeable performance hit by making the switch from Windows XP.

You don’t get a great deal in the way of expansion options, so while there are four USB 2.0 ports (three on the right side and one on the rear) you don’t get Firewire or Bluetooth. Also on the right-hand side there’s a card reader and a PC Card slot. There are two video outputs in the shape of VGA and S-Video and in the top bezel you’ll find a rotating Web-cam which has a fairly puny 0.3-megapixel rating.

This chassis is used in at least four different models of laptop and one of them includes Bluetooth along with other extras. To the left of the keyboard there are buttons and activity lights for the Atheros wireless and also for Bluetooth, even though it’s not included on this model.

Now we come to the major problem with this laptop, which is the appalling battery life. It depends how you use the Acer, of course, but you can kill the battery in just over one hour of continuous use. Combine that figure with the bulk and weight and the Aspire 9303WSMi isn’t much use on the move, which is unusual for a laptop.

Company: Acer

Contact: 0870 853 1005


Verdict
Acer has packed a decent amount of computing power inside this laptop but the combination of AMD and Nvidia hardware puts a strain on the battery. Despite an enormous chassis that should be able to accommodate a huge battery, Acer has ended up with a heavy laptop that has a short battery life, and that's rather unfortunate.