The all-rounder

The new Core i3, i5 and i7 processors from Intel are the rage now. About a fortnight back, the guys at Intel got in touch with me to review a laptop running on the Core i5 processor at 2.27 GHz and see how fast it works and what it could do. They arranged to send me an Acer Aspire 5740 Machine for the review. So here is my take on the powerful new i5 processor from Intel and the Acer Aspire 5740 which runs on it.

The Aspire 5740 has been available with an i3 Processor for sometime now. Acer has recently announced machines with i5 and i7 processors, out of which the former is already available with dealers. While the look, feel and the weight of laptops generally stays the same, you have the option of choosing an entry-level or a high-speed processor depending on your needs.

The i5 processor is designed to perform and work with you for a long time. Supporting technologies such as Turbo Boost, that allows you to speed up the processor when there is a need, and balance power and speed, helps laptops compromise battery time for performance. Similarly, it also helps the laptop work on low power when you are just browsing or checking email. The built-in Hyper Threading technology allows you to multi-task seamlessly. If you are into high-end gaming or have to run complicated calculations, the Hyper Threading engine will make all the difference. An average user might not need this, but will still see benefits of the processor, like while watching a HD movie.

The first thing you notice about this 15.6” laptop is its size. It is, in fact, a desktop replacement and not really a machine you would wanted to lug around all day.

The keyboard is well-designed and the keys laid out in a very user-friendly way. A dedicated number pad on the right, and a 103 keyboard with the multi-gesture touchpad that supports circular motion scrolling, pinch action zoom and page flip was great to work on. In fact, I am tempted to say this is the first laptop keyboard I’ve liked after my favourite MacBook.

The blue power button reminded me of the USS Star Ship Enterprise from Star Trek and I loved the glow it gives when you are working in the dark. Dedicated buttons to turn off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, backup keys and volume keys add to the use of the machine. The machine has Dolby certified speakers which can be a great experience if you are playing a game or just enjoying a movie. The machine came preloaded with 3 GB of RAM and a 320 GB Hard Disk, and playing games on it was a breeze, except for maybe the graphics performance.

Sadly, the test unit sent to me did not have an OS installed. However, I installed Ubuntu Linux as well as Windows 7, and both worked perfectly well.

Though the machine is large and runs a fast processor, I was surprised to get a battery time of 2.5 hours plus on all my tests. The large screen also entailed a better signal pick on my Wi-Fi, which was nice as I end up using 10” machines most of the time. The screen supports a maximum of 1366×768 pixel resolution and has a high brightness rating. With an aspect ratio of 16:9 and 8ms response time with a 60% colour gamut reproduction, the screen can give most LCD TVs a run for their money.
The HDMI Port worked out of the box. The built-in microphone was great too while the webcam is optimised for low-light conditions. But trust me, you do not want to do a Skype video call with the lights off, it just does not work.

Like its peers, the Aspire 5740 has a multi-card reader and four USB 2.0 ports. I would have preferred an USB 3.0 or an eSata port, instead of the archaic modem port. There is the usual RJ45 port for wired Ethernet while the wireless does not support 802.11a.

Overall the most attractive part of the machine was its huge size, a brilliant keyboard, great screen and good sound reproduction. The machine comes with a one-year warranty, and is a great option if you are looking for an all- rounder that has the size, agility and great looks. Price Rs 44,000.

The Above article appeared in the Indian Express, on Sunday 18th July 2010