The budget end of the laptop market has often meant poor performance, shoddy build quality and disgusting design. The Acer Aspire 5749 has none of that, instead offering relatively good performance with an interesting look.
It's available now for the very reasonable price of £400 from Save on Laptops among other places.
Design and build quality
The laptop world may be being, but they're not to everyone's taste. With price tags upwards of a grand, they're not going to dominate the market quite yet.
At 32mm thick, the 5749 is certainly no. Its 2.39kg weight doesn't make it the lightest machine to carry around either. But its 380mm-wide chassis isn't so huge that it won't slide into a stylish shoulder bag without too much fuss.
It's considerably slimmer and easier to hulk about thangaming rig, but you probably wouldn't want to carry it everywhere with you. We reckon it's best suited to a trip to the library every now and then, but spending most of its time anchored to your desk amongst the discarded coffee cups and old sweet wrappers.
It's not a bad-looking machine either. The budget end of the laptop market is typically full of boring expanses of plain black or grey plastic, but the 5749 has been given a rough criss-cross effect. It looks like that aluminium flooring you sometimes find in factories. The lid is still just one plain colour, but the texture adds an extra element of interest that just about saves it from being boring.
The pattern extends to the wrist rest around the keyboard. The black strip that houses the speakers and the unusual metal power button all add to a rather cool industrial look. If floral prints and bright colours are more your style then the 5749 won't do much for you. But if you find yourself dreaming of men hitting hot iron with big hammers, it'll be right up your street.
Although the chassis is made of plastic, it doesn't have the typical flimsy feel we often find on budget models. The lid seemed reassuringly firm and resistant to our poking and prodding, as did the wrist rest. The keyboard offered minimal flex too, which is often a problem in weaker laptops.
The keyboard itself uses isolated keys, but rather than being set into the tray -- as you'd see on laptops like the-- they float above the surface. These types of keys can feel quite wobbly and awkward but Acer has managed to firm them up, which makes for a comfortable typing experience. It does however mean that there's a gap underneath every key that's just crying out to be filled with biscuit crumbs, so make sure you don't eat over it.
The trackpad is a decent enough size for most scrolling tasks, but if you find yourself sending your cursor darting wildly around web pages and long documents you'll probably want to slot in an USB mouse. The buttons beneath are fused together into one long rocker button. It looks pretty good but requires you to press on the outer areas in order for it to register a click.
It has a matte texture that makes sliding your finger around extremely easy and it supports multi-touch gestures for two-fingered scrolling.