If you thought powerful laptops all have to look like they've been hewn from stone by a drunk man in the dark, think again -- the Acer Aspire Ethos 5951G provides some serious performance in a stylish black metal suit. It may not have the best screen we've ever laid our peepers on and it's far from light, but you're definitely getting a lot of laptop for your lolly.
Our review sample came from Save On Laptops, which is selling the 5951G for £893, and it's also available elsewhere online.
The name's Ethos. Aspire Ethos
There's no denying the Aspire Ethos is a good-looking hunk of minerals. Acer describes its aesthetics as 'black tuxedo design' and for once we see what it's getting at. The black, brushed metal finish is very stylish and would certainly fit in at even the swankiest of awards ceremonies -- although questions may be raised as to why you've brought a computer to an awards do.
The Acer logo is carefully embossed on the shell, a premium touch. Be careful of that lid though -- it may look like a Monte Carlo casino when it's clean, but get your fingerprints all over it and it quickly becomes a bingo hall in Bognor Regis.
It feels as though it could take a Bond-level beating too. The metal casing feels sturdy, although there's a fair bit of flex if you push down on the closed lid. At 3.3kg, it's definitely not the daintiest dancer in the disco, so you may want to travel with it on the passenger seat of your sports car. The girl can ride in the boot.
Under the lid is an equally good-looking keyboard. The isolated keys are separated by more brushed metal, which offered zero flex beneath our merciless poking, making it feel very comfortable to type on. The keyboard is backlit too, so you can keep working even if Odd Job cuts your power.
The speakers proudly display their Dolby-tuned credentials so we hoped for some good sound out of them. They did provide bright and clear audio, but, like most laptops, it was lacking in bass and wasn't particularly loud -- you certainly wouldn't fill a room full of people with music. They'll do the job adequately if you're just watching some TV shows though.
Acer's own Q Branch has given the Aspire Ethos a nifty trick to keep up its sleeve. When you don't want to be sat at your desk with your laptop, you can pop out the trackpad and use it lying in bed as a remote control. At the click of a little button, fancy looking media controls light up and work in tandem with Acer's Clear.fi software, or other media players.
Clear.fi comes pre-installed on the Ethos and organises all your media -- videos, photos, music -- into one hub that can be shared across other computers across your home network. It's a fine idea in principle, but not one we really think we'd use all that much. The one downside to the removable trackpad is there's no way to right-click. If you need to do that, you're going to have to get up and do it on the computer.
There's a smorgasbord of ports on offer too -- VGA and HDMI out, one combined eSATA/USB port, two USB 2.0 and one USB 3.0 port, FireWire, Ethernet, a multi-format card reader, an audio-in jack, a headphone jack and a microphone jack. There's a DVD writer too -- sadly, Blu-ray isn't on offer on this model.