Acer Aspire Ethos 5951G review

Desktop replacement laptop with innovative detachable touchpad
Photo of Acer Aspire Ethos 5951G
£857 from www.crescentelectronics.co.uk

Laptops have been the new desktops for a while now – and their specs continue to get closer to the big boxes of just a year or so back. Acer’s Ethos series aims to provide everything you might need for home entertainment and gaming, and even the less expensive model, the 5951G, offers an impressive specification.

Big spec
Based around an Intel Core i7 processor and an almost excessive 8GB of main memory, it also includes a high performance, nVidia GeForce GT555M video processor. This is all wrapped up in a lightweight brushed aluminium case, mercifully coated in a silk black which doesn’t show every fingerprint. The whole system feels solid and devoid of creaky plastics. At 3.3kg, though, this isn’t a notebook you want to lug around with you all day – definitely a desktop replacement.

The 15.1in, 1,366×768-resolution screen has no bezel, though there’s a 15mm black border all around the display. The screen itself is OK, though nothing special in terms of either viewing angle or contrast. The keyboard, however, is a lovely, positive-feel, archipelago unit, with individual keys poking through the top surface, and has a full numeric pad.

Acer Aspire Ethos 5951G

In front of the keyboard is probably the Aspire Ethos 5951G’s most innovative feature. It’s a large touchpad that doubles as a remote control. Held in by two magnets, it pops out when you slide a catch on the front. Pressing a small inset button in the pad’s top right-hand corner illuminates a series of white LED logos set into its top, for media selection and transport control. It’s all very smooth and makes it much easier to use the notebook as the basis for home cinema.

Continue to next page for performance and verdict.

Video playback on the 5951G is glitch-free, though we might have expected a Blu-ray drive in a laptop at this price, as there is in its more expensive sibling, the Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G. The laptop’s sound card can output audio in full 5.1 surround, though the machine itself has two small treble units behind the keyboard and a dedicated bass unit underneath. The sound they produce is OK, but still suffers a little from slightly steely treble and thin bass.

Acer Aspire Ethos 5951G

Around the sides, as well as the DVD drive, are USB 2 and USB 3 sockets, including one that enables you to charge phones from the laptop battery when it’s switched off – a nice touch. There’s HDMI and a mini Firewire port and a card reader which can take SD, MemoryStick and xD cards.

Under test, Acer’s Aspire Ethos 5951G showed its metal with a PCMark Vantage result of just over 6,000. It’s also a capable gaming machine, returning frame rates of around 35 frames a second in a Tropico 4 demo, even at the full native resolution of the screen.

Company: Acer

Website: http://www.acer.co.uk/

Contact: Acer on 0870 853 1005

Positives
  • Excellent hardware specification.
Negative
  • Optical drive is DVD-only, not Blu-ray.

Verdict

This is a very capable, desktop-replacement notebook. As well as being a high spec Windows 7 Pro platform, it offers good multimedia support, though you'll have to stretch your budget a bit higher for Blu-ray. Keyboard and the touchpad remote are highlights, but a fast processor and vast dollops of memory come close behind.