The Travelmate is all business, its matte black, silver and grey and reinforced screen, while not as rugged as a Lenovo, will certainly stand up to its share of knocks.
Acer's quick access buttons have been reduced to a tiny, yet still comfortable size and placed on the left. These give quick access to things like your default browser, mail program, and Acer's excellent notebook management software. Unfortunately only four out of the seven buttons are customisable, meaning you're locked into Acer's choices for three of them.
Considering the 4920G's wide touchpad we were hoping for more of the same, unfortunately the 5720G comes with a fairly standard offering, the usual unmarked scroll functionality available at the right and bottom of the pad, courtesy of Synaptics' software. The keyboard is curved as well, which after a brief period of adjustment is actually a pleasure to use.
Interestingly Acer has chosen to locate three of the four USB ports on the back, along with the modem port and power adaptor. The choice is questionable -- surely USB ports on the side are more accessible? Likewise, shifting the Ethernet port from the left side to the back would have been a better choice.
Exhaust ports are on the back, making sure that using an external mouse doesn't make your hand unnecessarily warm.
This is where the 5720G shines, as it packs in almost everything that's needed. Bluetooth 2.0, 802.11a/b/g/n, infrared, firewire, fingerprint scanner, SD/MMC/xD/MS Pro card reader, Type II PC card and Express card slot -- it's all here. Even, hallelujah, a DVI port, nestled between a VGA and S-video port.
Components are suitably behemoth as well, with an Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, ATI Mobility Radeon X2500, a DVD+-RW drive, 200GB hard drive and 2GB of RAM to make sure that this machine should handle the most demanding of applications.
The 15.4-inch screen is matte as tends to be the trend with business models, and although it doesn't give the same colour depth or brightness as the gloss screens, it copes considerably better in high light situations. Nestled above is the usual Webcam, although this is a basic offering at 0.3MP -- still fine for your average video conference.
All of these goodies may lead to performance, but they also lead to weight, the 5720G hefting in at 3kg -- for all intents and purposes a desktop replacement. Not bad considering what's packed in, but those looking for supreme portability at 15-inch may want to look elsewhere.
With MobileMark 2007 finally upon us with Vista compatibility, we let off the leash and let it play around the backyard of the 5720G. Scoring a respectable 2058 in 3DMark06, and equally respectable 4253 in PCMark05, it also stood up well in terms of battery life. Setting all power saving options off and performance to maximum, we played back our King Kong DVD, the Acer surviving for 115 minutes before powering down.
The Travelmate is an excellent notebook for business if you're interested in the 15-inch space, and you're happy with the 3kg weight. Recommended.