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Acer Aspire AS7741Z-4643 review: Acer Aspire AS7741Z-4643

Acer Aspire AS7741Z-4643

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Dan Ackerman
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Dan Ackerman

Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming

Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a semi-regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times

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Based on its components, the Acer Aspire AS7741Z-4643 is just about right for a laptop hovering around the $500 mark. Similar systems with low-end dual-core Intel or AMD processors are available from Toshiba, HP, and others, including some with better designs and more features. What sets the Acer apart, however, is its 17.3-inch display. Even with low-end parts, 17-inch desktop replacement laptops rarely reach down this far on the price scale.

Acer Aspire AS7741Z-4643
6.2

Acer Aspire AS7741Z-4643

The Good

Inexpensive 17-inch laptop; HDMI output; decent touch pad.

The Bad

Low-end processor; plastic construction; flexy keyboard; limited connectivity.

The Bottom Line

The Acer Aspire AS7741Z-4643 does an admirable job for an entry-level big-screen laptop, assuming you can live with the corner cutting.

Of course, the actual display resolution is only 1,600x900 pixels--lower than most (more expensive) 17-inch laptops--and you miss out on any extras, making this feel more like a midsize budget laptop stuffed inside a 17-inch shell. That said, if you can live with those limitations, and just need a big screen and keyboard/number pad combo, it's been a while since we've seen a 17-inch laptop this inexpensive.

Price as reviewed $498
Processor 2.0GHz Intel Pentium P6100
Memory 3GB, 1,333MHz DDR3
Hard drive 250GB 7,200rpm
Chipset Intel HM55
Graphics Intel GMA HD
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
Dimensions (WD) 16.3 x 10.8 inches
Height 1.1 - 1.4 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 17.3 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 6.4/7.2 pounds
Category Desktop replacement

For a hair under $500, don't expect shiny metal or fancy paint jobs from the Acer Aspire AS7741Z-4643. Instead, you get a laptop that looks and feels a lot like other recent representatives of Acer and Gateway's low-end lines.

The plastic body has a textured lid, which repels fingerprints, and a plastic wrist rest colored to look like brushed metal (from a reasonable distance). Still, the construction feels sturdy, with the exception of some keyboard flex, and the tight hinges make sure the screen stays where you put it.

The flat-topped keys are a variation on the island-style seen in most smaller laptops this year. The Acer/Gateway variation is to place a wider key on top of a narrower pillar, which has the unfortunate effect of making the keys slightly wobbly, and giving the entire keyboard area too much flex under your fingers, a problem that extends to the included separate number pad. It's still usable, and the keys are large enough, but we wouldn't want to write a novel on it.

The large touch pad is better, although the 17-inch chassis leaves room for it to be even bigger. The surface provided just enough friction, and our main issue was the single rocker bar underneath that stood in for separate mouse buttons. The rest of the interior space in empty--no quick-launch or media control buttons. Only a large round power button and hard drive/Wi-Fi indicators sit above the keyboard.

The large 17.3-inch display has a native resolution of 1,600x900 pixels, which is decent considering the price, but lower than many 17-inch laptops, which have full 1080p screens. It's one of the few differentiating features between this system and budget 14- and 15-inch laptops in the same price range. Playing back HD video, the screen was nice and bright, but also slightly washed out. Audio from the built-in speakers was thin but listenable; for a full-length movie we'd suggest headphones.

Acer Aspire AS7741Z-4643 Average for category [desktop replacement]
Video VGA, HDMI VGA plus HDMI or DisplayPort
Audio Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks Stereo speakers with subwoofer, headphone/microphone jacks.
Data 3 USB 2.0, SD card reader 4 USB 2.0, SD card reader, eSATA
Expansion None ExpressCard/54
Networking Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Optical drive DVD burner DVD burner, optional Blu-ray player

If you're looking for anything other than the rock-bottom basics, keep looking. This system has only three USB ports, no Bluetooth, no eSATA port, etc. But as long as you're only plugging in a mouse and maybe connecting a phone or MP3 player, the limited set of connections will suffice.

With only a 2.0GHz Intel Pentium P6100 under the hood (with 3GB of RAM), this was far from a speed demon in any of our benchmark tests. At least it's a dual-core processor (even if it's about as far down on the dual-core ladder as one can get), so unlike an Atom-powered Netbook, you can surf the Web and work on basic productivity tasks all day without too much frustration. In some of our single-app tests, the Acer was close to laptops with Intel's underwhelming low-voltage Core i3 ULV chip (which is much slower than the standard voltage versions of the Core-i series chips).

Juice box
Acer Aspire AS7741Z-4643 Average watts per hour
Off (60 percent) 0.55
Sleep (10 percent) 1.26
Idle (25 percent) 12.18
Load (5 percent) 38.22
Raw kWh 47.41
Annual power consumption cost $5.38

Annual power consumption cost

We're generally forgiving of large desktop replacement laptops when it comes to battery life. After all, they typically have the most power-hungry components, and are big and heavy enough to spend most of their time anchored to one spot, hopefully near a power outlet. On the other hand, this Acer Aspire doesn't have more to drive than any low-end midsize laptop, so we wouldn't expect it to score any worse. If anything, the spacious chassis should allow for better airflow, keeping the internal fans from working too hard and further draining the battery.

In this case, the Acer Aspire AS7741Z-4643 ran for 2 hours and 38 minutes on our video playback battery drain test. That's short of the 3-plus hours we'd prefer to see on a system like this, but also good for both a desktop replacement and a low-budget laptop.

Acer covers this system with a standard one-year parts and labor warranty. Acer's support Web site is good at providing a list of appropriate driver software and FAQ pages for your particular model of laptop. Discovering the telephone support number is not as easy; after several minutes of circular linking, we gave up and Googled it. Try 800-816-2237 between 5 a.m. and 7 p.m. PT, but you'll need your system's serial or SSID number.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Find out more about how we test laptops.

System configurations:
Acer Aspire AS7741Z-4643
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.0GHz Intel Pentium P6100; 3,072MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 128MB (Dedicated)/1,755MB (Total) Intel GMA HD; 250GB Western Digital 5,400rpm

Asus UL80J-BBK5
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 1.2GHz Intel Core i3-330M ULV; 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 800MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce 310M + 1,696MB (Total) Intel GMA HD; 500GB Seagate 5,400rpm

HP G62-225DX
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.3GHz Intel Pentium Dual-Core T4500; 3,072MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 64MB (Dedicated)/1,696MB (Total) Mobile Intel GMA 4,500MHD; 320GB Samsung 5,400rpm

Gateway NV7915u
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.13GHz Intel Core i3 M330; 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 128MB (Dedicated)/1,755MB (Total) Intel GMA HD; 500GB Hitachi 5,400rpm

Acer Aspire AS7741Z-4643
6.2

Acer Aspire AS7741Z-4643

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 6Performance 6Battery 7Support 7
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