Review: Acer's $399 Net, er, notebook

Full review of the Acer Aspire 5735, a 15.6-inch laptop that costs only $399 at Best Buy.

Matt Elliott Senior Editor
Matt Elliott is a senior editor at CNET with a focus on laptops and streaming services. Matt has more than 20 years of experience testing and reviewing laptops. He has worked for CNET in New York and San Francisco and now lives in New Hampshire. When he's not writing about laptops, Matt likes to play and watch sports. He loves to play tennis and hates the number of streaming services he has to subscribe to in order to watch the various sports he wants to watch.
Expertise Laptops, desktops, all-in-one PCs, streaming devices, streaming platforms
Matt Elliott
2 min read
Acer Aspire 5735: You won't find a larger laptop for less. Matthew Elliott/CBS Interactive

Our resident cheapskate spied the Acer Aspire 5735 earlier this week. I just finished reviewing this 15.6-inch laptop and have only minor quibbles with what amounts to a ridiculous deal. The Aspire 5735 lists for $499 but is currently selling at Best Buy for $399. I mean, how critical can one be of such a low-cost, fully featured laptop? With a cheap laptop, all you really need to know is that it is not terrible. And after banging on the Aspire 5735 this week, I can tell you that it is not terrible.

The plastic chassis flexes a bit, the screen resolution isn't as fine as that of some smaller displays, and the 16:9 aspect ratio display makes the laptop a bit of a wide body. The mouse buttons are clacky, and the keyboard feels cramped because it must make room for a separate number pad. And some features commonly found on (admittedly much more expensive) multimedia laptops had to be jettisoned, including discreet graphics, an HDMI port, and a Webcam.

The pluses, however, far outweigh these negatives. It offers similar features and performance as current Best Buy models that cost $250 more, and its dual-core Pentium chip offers much more performance than the single-core Atom processor found in most Netbooks. It also offers Draft N Wi-Fi, which came as a surprise since many mainstream laptops still offer only 802.11b/g connections. Movies and HD content fit the 16:9 aspect ratio, and though it's not the best LCD you're likely to encounter, it does provide a roomy screen for your entertainment purposes

Although it's priced lower than many Netbooks, I doubt the Aspire 5735 will woo many would-be Netbook buyers since it's a much different animal than a machine with a 9- or 10-inch display and a sub 3-pound weight. At these prices, however, perhaps you don't need to decide between the two. If I were in the market for a new laptop, I might split my budget and grab the Aspire 5735 for my home machine and a Netbook for when I'm on the road. At a combined $800 to $900, I'd get two machines for the price of one (mainstream) model.