Acer's latest all-in-one PC, the Aspire Z5763, packs a 3D screen, a Blu-ray player, and an attractive price tag of about £950. Designed to appeal mainly to gamers, can it tempt that notoriously picky bunch to move into the third dimension?
The first thing you'll notice about the 23-inch, 1080p screen is that it's rather dull. But, for once, this is a good thing. Acer has used a matte screen and bezel, bucking the trend for high-gloss displays -- something that those who don't work and play in sunless dungeons will appreciate. The screen is good otherwise too, and we like the touch-sensitive brightness and volume buttons.
As for the overall look and feel of the Z5763, we're not quite so impressed. It looks rather bulky and clumsy, due mainly to the large, silver, plastic grille covering the speakers under the screen. This grille also feels rather cheap and nasty, and it was slightly loose on our review model.
Two stubby feet prop up each side of the PC, and the narrow kickstand at the rear is covered by silver plastic panels that proved rather too keen to fall off on our review model. It's possible that our sample had been battered around by other reviewers, but this still shouldn't happen.
You can adjust the angle of tilt slightly, but the stand doesn't feel very secure when not fully extended, as the feet then don't sit squarely.
The combined effect of the feet and the deep speaker panel is to raise the base of the LCD screen to a rather uncomfortable 19cm off the desk. If a display's too low, you can stick books under it, but, when it's too high, you're stuffed.
To make matters worse, there's a blue LED strip along the join between the speakers and the screen. It's very distracting but at least it can be dimmed or turned off.
The Z5763 is supplied with an atrocious wireless keyboard and mouse. They both use a dongle that takes up one of the USB ports. We don't understand why companies skimp so much on the parts you spend the most time touching.
In terms of specs, the Z5763 isn't too shabby. The DirectX 11-capable Nvidia GeForce GT 435M GPU with a 700MHz clock speed delivered a 3DMark06 benchmark score of 8,001, which should be enough to run most modern games at medium quality levels.
The dual-core, 3.1GHz Intel Core i3-2100 processor, backed by 4GB of RAM, delivers plenty of oomph, as shown by its outstanding PCMark05 score of 10,2276.
It's a shame the Z5763 only has a 1TB hard disk, but you do get a Blu-ray drive that supports 3D discs, plus a hybrid analogue and digital Freeview tuner with a Windows Media Center remote control -- but no aerial. Blu-ray playback is handled by the bundled Clear.fi software, a quirky media player and sharing application that gets the job done. Playback quality is excellent.
We also tried the supplied Nvidia 3D Vision active-shutter glasses for gaming, and they also work very well. The Z5763 has a built-in infrared emitter, so a dongle isn't needed, and the system supports 120Hz refresh rates, so you can play 3D Blu-ray titles too, if you can find any decent ones.
The Z5763 also does a fair job of converting many 2D games to 3D on the fly, so your existing games may benefit from the addition of more depth. Frame rates may drop, though, as the graphics card's workload is significantly increased.
The speakers have a Dolby Home Theater Virtual Surround sticker on them, but their audio is nothing special, lacking any convincing bass.
Acer's peculiar Media Maestro gesture-control application optionally kicks in when you play media, but we're not sure that waving at the webcam to control playback is one of the greatest ideas we've encountered.
Networking is taken care of by built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet, but there are no eSATA or FireWire ports.
Bundled software is limited to Microsoft Office Starter 2010, plus a couple of utilities, such as CyberLink YouCam and Skype, and the Acer GameZone, which is just a portal for cheap games from Oberon Media.
The Acer Aspire Z5763 is a mixed bag. It offers some decent components, good performance and an excellent screen, but its clunky design and build-quality issues are disappointing, particularly considering the machine's high price.
Edited by Charles Kloet