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.
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|
|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|
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|
|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).
|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|
|Annual power consumption cost||$5.38|