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Desktops

Acer Aspire L320

As large as a leather-bound book, the Acer Aspire L320 is a full-featured lifestyle PC which promises to perform with the big boys without compromising space or power consumption.

Green is the new black. Ever since Al Gore spilled the beans, everybody is seemingly getting in on the act. Acer is the latest company to emphasise the caring sharing nature of its products. Not only are Acer's new "notebook replacement" desktops 10 times smaller and four times lighter than conventional towers, according to the manufacturer, but they apparently use 50 percent less energy.

Upside
The Acer Aspire L320 is a slimline PC which can be used in living rooms or as an ordinary desktop. For digital home enthusiasts the computer can be fitted with a TV tuner and remote and used as a media centre.

The desktop is also quite small, and with a volume of three litres, it will fit into even the smallest nook. Its silver scheme is quite stylish, we suppose, and the build appears to be quite solid. It's semi-portable, and can be slipped into a notebook bag if needed. But given that's not built for it we wouldn't want to knock it around or else the processor or other components could get damaged.

Acer claims the new range is equivalent in performance to a desktop tower, and does this by including a desktop processor and hard drive. Prices start at AU$1,099 for a basic system with an Intel Pentium 4 or Celeron, while the top of the range model features a Core 2 Duo E4300, a 19" LCD monitor, 1GB of RAM and a 320GB hard drive.

Downside
Acer is pushing the Aspire as a closed-box system, and likens it to a VCR or DVD player. This means that it would be very difficult to upgrade, and though the onboard Intel GMA 3000 will enable video watching and Vista acceleration, it's not good for games and won't be upgradeable.

Also, there are still some notebook components inside, so it's still not a true desktop, and despite Acer's claims, there could be a performance hit as a result.

Outlook
The Aspire L320 is a welcome entrant into the digital home category. It's not quite a media centre and not quite a desktop. Its affordable price and diminutive size should find it plenty of fans. It'll be interesting to see if Acer's claims of "desktop-level" power hold true.

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