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Hands-on with Acer Aspire 5920: The BMW laptop

What happens when you ask BMW to design a laptop? With the help of the usually dependable Acer, we can show you -- but be warned, it ain't pretty

Laptops

The Acer laptop folks are nuts about cars. First they seared our retinas with their gaudy Ferrari laptops and now they're about to unleash the Gemstone series -- which have been co-designed by BMW. Yes, the car people.

Rather than just stick a BMW badge on the lid, Acer has conducted seven months of market research to discover what constitutes a sexy laptop, then left the results in the capable hands of over 100 designers and engineers at BMW Designworks.

The resulting laptops are stunning, but not in a good way. We've got our hands on the 'King of Entertainment' Aspire 5920 model and we're really not feeling the design.

The glossy black lid is okay, but every laptop maker, his mum and his dog has one of these -- so nul points there. They also get zero props for the granddad-pleasingly grey keyboard section. It looks white in the pictures, but believe us when we say it's greyer than John Major after a bout of autoerotic asphyxiation with Madame Whiplash. Our lawyers would like us to point out that this is a purely hypothetical scenario.

The next design faux pas is the USB port arrangement. There are three ports on the left side, which is fine, but we reckon the lone port on the right was stuck there by a petrol-head who knows nothing about laptops. The port sits about 1mm away from the DVD-ROM drive, so any standard-sized USB device physically prevents the drive bay from opening. The USB logo is even printed in the wrong place -- above the DVD drive.

There are some touches we like, though.

The webcam doubles up as a sort of car-door handle for opening the sexy 15.4-inch screen. Plus the shortcut buttons on either side of the keyboard are just like those on either side of a BMW car stereo. Ironically there's even a 'button' that does absolutely nothing -- like the dummy switches on cars that haven't got all the optional extras. We have no idea why they've included this -- it makes you wonder whether there's something missing.

We can't grumble with the specs. The Aspire 5920 is Santa Rosa'd up to the eyeballs and packs a 2GHz Intel T7300 CPU, 2GB of 667MHz (not 800MHz unfortunately) RAM, and an Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT graphics card for gaming. There's even a Dolby-certified speaker system with a subwoofer underneath. It doesn't sound as good as in-car systems, obviously, but it's impressive all the same. We can't argue with the price, either -- a measly £799 goes a long way to make up for the design car crash.

We'll have a review of the Aspire 5920 sooner than you can say sprochtung durch technik, or whatever they say in Germany. Keep it Crave. -Rory Reid.

Update: A full review of the Acer Aspire 5920 is now live. 

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