Acer – Aspire 9800 review

enormous laptop with 20-inch screen
Photo of Acer – Aspire 9800
£1,179

Even if you think you’ve seen some large laptops, nothing quite prepares you for the size of Acer’s Aspire 9800. It’s not so much a desktop replacement as a desk replacement.

The reason for its huge size is the fact that it has a 20-inch screen. Yes, that’s twenty inches. Measuring 490 x 380 x 60mm (W x D x H) and weighing in at a hefty 8.5kg (including the huge power brick), there’s no way you’ll be lugging this monster of a laptop around.

Despite the size of the screen, its resolution is a disappointing 1,680 by 1,050 pixels, which is low when you consider that you can get 1,920 by 1,200 on some 17-inch displays. It does, however, have a saving grace in Acer’s CrystalBrite coating, which is high contrast and perfect for watching video and playing games.

The graphics adapter is an Nvidia GeForce Go 7600 using 256MB of memory, and there is also a 1.3-megapixel camera mounted in the top of the screen that can be adjusted up or down.

The system we reviewed, with the product name 9802WKMi, turned out to be a bit of a hybrid as it came with a CPU, memory and storage combination which are not available together according to Acer’s UK Web site. But this may be nothing more sinister than a shortage of the right CPU at the time of the notebook’s construction.

As standard the Aspire 9802WKMi comes with one of Intel’s T2300 Core Duo processors, clocked at 1.66GHz, and a 5,400rpm, 100GB hard drive. Our system had the storage option offered with the more powerful 9804WKMi with its T2500 (2.0GHz Core Duo), namely a RAID array of two disks.

Given the sheer size of the chassis, putting in two hard drives is a doddle. The two 100GB, 5,400rpm drives were configured in RAID 0 (striped) array which offers a big fast drive but without the data protection you get with a mirrored (RAID 1) array.

The Aspire 9800 series uses Intel’s i945PM Express chipset with its DDR2 memory support. In the case of the review system this meant 1GB of 667MHz memory, but if that isn’t enough the motherboard can support up to 4GB via two SODIMM slots.

Another benefit of having a huge chassis is that Acer has built in a full-size keyboard complete with a dedicated number pad. There is a fair degree of flex to the keyboard but that is no real surprise given its size.

You will be pleased to hear that if you want to watch a movie, play a game or watch TV via the built-in hybrid TV tuner, you are not confronted by the usual tinny laptop speakers. Instead Acer has managed to get three speakers and a sub-woofer into the chassis.

Due to its sheer size, worrying about battery life is a pretty irrelevant pastime, but under MobileMark 05 tests the 4,800mAh battery managed to squeeze out 90 minutes under the DVD playback test and a meagre 95 minutes for the Productivity test. In all honesty, this beast isn’t going anywhere.

Company: Acer

Contact: 0870 853 1005


Verdict
Powerful and well featured, the Aspire 9800 is the ultimate in desktop replacements and, given the size of the screen and what you get in the box, it's almost a bargain. Just don't expect to be able to carry it around with you.