17inch widescreen and great value but performance suffers
When asking manufacturers for their best notebook at £699, we hardly expected a 17in widescreen model to turn up.
So hats off to Acer for putting together the Aspire 9503EWSMi. It towers over everything else here, weighing 3.6kg, offering a maximum screen resolution of 1,440 x 900 (WXGA) and containing a full-size keyboard with separate number pad.
However, while the chassis is of gargantuan proportions, its innards are dwarf-like.
An Intel Celeron M 370 (1.5GHz) is aided by just 512MB of DDR2 Ram, which combine to achieve a low Sysmark score of 124. The PCmark result was an unexceptional 1,607.
Like many others here, the integrated Intel i915GM graphics will dynamically steal up to 128MB of system memory to help with 3D-intensive tasks and games, but it’s not powerful enough to play the latest first-person shooters at any respectable detail level.
A 3Dmark score of 200 may be high compared to some others here, but it’s still poor.
The display is this notebook’s best feature. It is designed with Acer’s Crystalbrite technology, so things look clear and sharp. The whole notebook feels rugged but sleek, thanks to its curved finish.
There’s a slot-loading DVD writer on one side of the chassis and a 5-in-1 memory card reader on the other.
Its size has enabled Acer to include five USB ports, a PCI Express Card slot and an S/PDIF audio socket. 80GB of hard disk space is provided and Microsoft Works is bundled.
Both Bluetooth and 802.11b/g Wifi are built in, as is Acer’s Arcade software that allows multimedia files to be played via a supplied remote control.
This article is part of a group test on £699 notebooks. Others are:
Intro and Editor's Choice
Acer Aspire 9503EWSMi
Elonex Prowire 153
Evesham Voyager A215
Fujitsu Siemens Amilo M 6450G
Hi-Grade Notino C5515-1700
HP Compaq nx6125 (EK157ET)
Mesh Pegasus 3070
The next level - improving laptop performance
Living with a laptop: pitfalls to avoid
Pros: 17in WXGA screen; great battery life; lots of bundled Acer software Cons: Budget Intel processor; poor 3D graphics Overall: The Acer Aspire 9503EWSMi is amazingly good value for a 17in widescreen notebook, with enough features to keep most users happy
Updating your subscription status