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Acer Aspire Z5610 review: Acer Aspire Z5610

Acer Aspire Z5610

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Rich Brown Former Senior Editorial Director - Home and Wellness
Rich was the editorial lead for CNET's Home and Wellness sections, based in Louisville, Kentucky. Before moving to Louisville in 2013, Rich ran CNET's desktop computer review section for 10 years in New York City. He has worked as a tech journalist since 1994, covering everything from 3D printing to Z-Wave smart locks.
Expertise Smart home, Windows PCs, cooking (sometimes), woodworking tools (getting there...)
Rich Brown
7 min read

Acer's $899 Aspire Z5610 makes life awfully difficult for its sub-$1,000 all-in-one competition. The reason is that its 23-inch LCD is the largest in this price range by far, to the point where it even encroaches on value of Apple's 21.5-inch $1,199 iMac. Acer requires a few sacrifices for so much screen real estate, a puny hard drive, for example, but none so terrible that they hamper overall functionality. We have a feeling we're going to see more large LCDs for less than $1,000 throughout 2010, but until now, the Acer Aspire Z5610 is the large-screen bargain to beat. We recommend it to anyone who needs an all-in-one for general productivity, or video and still-image consumption.

OVR
7.5

Acer Aspire Z5610

The Good

Largest screen among sub-$1,000 all-in-ones; better-than-average ATI graphics chip enables smooth HD video playback (downloaded or streamed-only because of the lack of a Blu-ray drive).

The Bad

Disjointed design; small 320GB hard drive.

The Bottom Line

You could say that the Acer Aspire Z5610 has a few flaws, but it might be more accurate to call them sacrifices. After all, we don't expect that Acer could sell a 23-inch all-in-one for less than $1,000 without trimming a few costs. Fortunately, Acer chose its trade-offs wisely. You can find faster, better-looking all-in-ones out there, but none that offer this much screen real estate for such an aggressive price.

Acer has attempted to make the Aspire Z5610 a flashy, flagship all-in-one with its design, but it doesn't quite capture the elegance of an iMac. Its silver plastic enclosure highlighted with dark reddish accents is fine, but two metal posts in the front that serve as support feet give the system a disjointed, ad hoc look. The clunky, plastic wireless mouse and keyboard don't lend any polish to the Aspire Z5610, not least because pairing them to the USB receiver is a hassle.

Any issues you might have with the Acer's looks aesthetic melt away once you turn on the screen. Yes, the Windows 7 desktop is cluttered with shortcuts to various touch-based programs (did we mention this system has touch input?), but the sheer size of the screen speaks for this system's value all by itself.

The Aspire Z5610 comes with a standard-definition DVD burner, but thanks to a decent midrange ATI graphics chip, it's robust enough to handle downloaded 1080p content smoothly. The screen's default resolution is also 1,920x1,080 pixels, so you get the full detail of true HD content. We can't say much for the audio output from the Acer's internal speakers, but then they don't say much either, at least that you can hear from more than 5 feet away. There's no wall-mount option, but otherwise this system would make a fine low-cost home entertainment device, provided you amplify the audio.

The touch software that comes with the Aspire Z5610 is basically the same that comes with recent touch-based all-in-ones from Acer-owned Gateway. In the upper left corner of the system you'll see an image of what looks like the corner of a peeled back page. "Pull" it down with your finger and you come to Acer's TouchPortal, which features a collection of mostly uninspired touch apps. You get a note-taking program, a paint app, a Microsoft Surface globe, a Webcam interface, and a few games, among others, but none has received the care that HP put into the touch software on its TouchSmart all-in-ones.

The Acer's touch apps do no real harm, and you or your kids might find it diverting to play with them for a few minutes, but between the uninspired apps and the less-than-responsive touch screen, there's little here to hold anyone's long-term interest.

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Acer Aspire Z5610HP TouchSmart 300-1020
Price$899$899
Display size/resolution23 inches, 1,920x1,08020 inches, 1,600x900
CPU2.6GHz Intel Pentium Dual-Core E53002.7GHz AMD Athlon II X2 235e
Memory4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics512MB ATI Radeon HD 4570256MB (shared) ATI Radeon HD 3200 integrated graphics chip
Hard drives320GB, 7,200rpm500GB, 7,200rpm
Optical drivedual-layer DVD burnerdual-layer DVD burner
NetworkingGigabit Ethernet, 802.11n wirelessGigabit Ethernet, 802.11n wireless
Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

HP's TouchSmart 300-1020 is a retail specific model of HP's smaller touch-based all-in-one, but it also has the same price tag as the Acer Aspire Z5610, so it makes sense to compare the two. We didn't love the HP, but it does boast a larger hard drive than the Acer and a more fully developed set of touch-specific software. However, none of those things makes a more compelling argument than the Acer's 23-inch screen. If all-in-ones are designed to fill multiple roles--general productivity computer, home entertainment device, information kiosk--the Acer's large screen and general competence make it a better all-purpose product than the HP.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iMac (27-inch, 3.06GHz)
94

Asus Essentio CG5270-BP004

106

Acer Aspire Z5610

127

HP TouchSmart 300-1020

140

Gateway One ZX4800-02

155

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iMac (27-inch, 3.06GHz)
121

Acer Aspire Z5610

151

Asus Essentio CG5270-BP004

157

HP TouchSmart 300-1020

180

Gateway One ZX4800-02

201

Multimedia multitasking (in seconds)

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iMac (21.5-inch, 3.06GHz)
434

Asus Essentio CG5270-BP004

601

HP TouchSmart 300-1020

855

Acer Aspire Z5610

981

Gateway One ZX4800-02

1322

Cinebench

(Longer bars indicate better performance)


Rendering multiple CPUs  

Rendering single CPU  

Asus Essentio CG5270-BP004
10,7922,997

Apple iMac (21.5-inch, 3.06GHz)

6,5063,486

HP TouchSmart 300-1020

5,7392,983

Acer Aspire Z5610

5,4462,976

Gateway One ZX4800-02

4,5252,397

We call the Aspire Z5610 competent because it performs well enough on our performance tests for its price and specs. In a battle of CPUs, its 2.6GHz Pentium Dual Core E5300 chip actually helps propel the Acer past the HP and its 2.7GHz Athlon II X2 235e on our iTunes and Photoshop tests. The Acer lags behind the HP on our multitasking and multithreaded Cinebench tests, which suggests that it's not quite as well suited to day-to-day computing where you might switch between multiple open programs, but the Acer is not so slow that we think it would overly hamper your basic productivity.

None of the PCs in this price range are well-suited to advanced 3D gaming, although the Acer's Radeon HD 4570 graphics chip should handle World of Warcraft and other more scalable games just fine. As long as you stay away from more demanding 3D games and multimedia editing tasks, you should have no major issues with the Acer's overall performance. Indeed, the only obvious limitation we can see with the Acer might be its smaller 320GB hard drive if you're a digital media hoarder. In that event, you'll need some kind of external or networked storage alternative.

Otherwise, the Aspire Z5610 is a solid deal considering its price and its large screen. We can't help pointing out that its screen is larger, and its price is lower than Apple's 21.5-inch, $1,199 entry-level iMac. The iMac is a much better-looking computer than the Acer, and it's also much faster. But as we pointed out in our review of that iMac, if Acer's offering in the Aspire Z5610 compels other Windows desktop vendors to bring large-screen all-in-ones below $1,000, the most affordable iMac may have a rather large competitive disadvantage in its next revision if Apple doesn't adjust accordingly.

External features and connectivity options for this system are a bit more limited, but not to the point where we find ourselves turned off. We always like to see dedicated buttons on an all-in-one for volume control and display power. Unfortunately, the Acer's only dedicated button (other than the system power control) lets you cycle through the settings for an LED light that shines down on the keyboard.

Acer does provide an SD Card slot and a pair of audio jacks on the right side of the Aspire Z5610, and a pair of USB 2.0 jacks on the left edge. On the back you get four more USB 2.0 inputs, an Ethernet jack, an eSATA connection (perfect for expanding storage), and a set of 5.1 analog audio jacks. There's no dedicated HDMI input, digital audio, or FireWire inputs, so you can see between the connections and the hard drives where Acer may have trimmed costs to accommodate the large screen. We like those extras (HDMI inputs, in particular), but the screen is worth the sacrifice.

Juice box
Acer Aspire Z5610Average watts per hour
Off (watts)0.67
Sleep (watts)2.39
Idle (watts)40.5
Load (watts)103.29
Raw (annual kWh)173.6889
EnergyStar compliantYes
Annual operating cost (@$0.1135/kWh)$19.71

Annual power consumption cost

Gateway One ZX4800-02

$12.2

Apple iMac (21.5-inch, 3.06GHz)

$15.77

Acer Aspire Z5610

$19.71

HP TouchSmart 300-1020

$22.38

Asus Essentio CG5270-BP004

$24.85

The Aspire Z5610's power consumption is right where it should be for its performance. Incurring less than $20 in annual power bills is easy for anyone to stomach, and relative to other all-in-ones, the Acer is actually a bit more efficient than HP's or Gateway's recent all-in-ones. Apple's iMac remains the all-in-one to beat in terms of power efficiency, but the Acer makes a strong showing.

The Aspire Z5610 comes with a one-year, parts and labor warranty, and Acer offers toll-free phone support from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT weekdays and from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. PT on weekends. We'd rather it was 24-7, but at least its hours are relatively generous. Acer's online service and support is a bit hard to navigate, but once you get through it you'll find the usual array of useful resources.

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:

Acer Aspire Z5610
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.6GHz Intel Pentium Dual Core E5300; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 512MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4570; 320GB 5,400rpm Seagate hard drive

Apple iMac (21.5-inch, 3.06GHz)
Apple OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.1; 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E7600; 4GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 9400 integrated graphics chip; 500GB 7,200rpm Seagate Digital hard drive

Asus Essentio CG5270-BP004
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 2.5GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q8300; 8GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 32MB Intel GMA X4500 integrated graphics chip; 1TB, 7,200rpm hard drive

Gateway One ZX4800-02
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.1GHz Intel Pentium Dual Core T4300; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 32MB (shread) Intel GMA 450M integrated graphics chip; 750GB 5,400rpm Seagate hard drive

HP TouchSmart 300-1020
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.7GHz AMD Athlon II X2 235e; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 256MB (shared) AMD Radeon HD 3200 integrated graphics chip; 500GB 5,400rpm Seagate hard drive

OVR
7.5

Acer Aspire Z5610

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 9Performance 6Support 6