A budget price with non-budget performance? Acer's Aspire 5742 demands your attention, if you can handle a few unusual touches.
Probably the first thing you’ll notice about the Acer Aspire 5742 is its appearance; for such a cheap notebook it looks really slick, with a carbon fibre like finish that has a great tactile feel. While the hinges did give a bit when picking the notebook up quickly, they otherwise stayed still. The chiclet keyboard looks stylish and handles even better, with the keys themselves pleasantly firm to press.
The only disappointment is the hilariously small arrow keys. It’s particularly jarring given how generously sized every other key is. The touchpad, located slightly to the left, is responsive, and has a few helpful multi-touch options like pinch zooming.
The effort put into appearance hasn’t hampered the guts of the notebook, as it has a zippy Intel Core i5-460M. While 2GB of RAM is a bit on the small side, at no point during using the notebook was there any noticeable slowdown or stuttering even when running several programs at once. The PCMark Vantage score of 4,797 is certainly great given the very low price.
Storage is somewhat low at 320GB, but looking at the price tag it makes sense that something would have to give. The 15.6in screen has a resolution of 1,366 x 768 and good colour reproduction and contrast. The viewing angle is forgiving, as the screen had to be tilted a lot before visibility suffered.
It may not be an all-day workhorse, but in power saver mode it lasted a respectable 4 hours and 30 minutes while only getting mildly warm. It has solid port variety, including an HDMI port on the left along with a VGA, USB 2.0, fast Ethernet, a headphone jack and a microphone jack. On the right there’s a pair of well-spaced USB 2.0 ports along with the DVD burner.
All up this notebook’s only downsides are the small amount of RAM and tiny directional keys, while the pros are numerous. The Acer Aspire 5742 looks and performs great, and for such a low price you really can’t go wrong.Available from Acer, retailing for $698
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