Recently we told you about two new widescreen Acer laptops, the 16-inch Aspire 6920, and the 18.4-inch Aspire 8920 -- part of the Gemstone Blue series. Today Acer sent us a pre-production Aspire 8920 to play with, so it's only right we take a bunch of photos and show it off.
Credit to Acer for being the first to deliver a laptop with an 18.4-inch screen. This runs at a native resolution of 1,920x1,080 pixels and has a true widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio. This means movies played on its integrated Blu-ray drive will fit the screen perfectly. Most laptops run at 16:10, which isn't quite what the moviemakers intended.
The next notable inclusion is the capacitive media controls on the far left side. Volume is adjusted by sliding your finger up or down the volume arc, and below that you'll find all the usual media controls such as play, pause, skip, forward and stop -- all of which are touch-sensitive. The design works surprisingly well and reminds us of the instrument panel on the Starship Enterprise.
The Aspire 8920 has an integrated subwoofer. Nothing unusual in that -- many desktop replacements have one -- but the way it's implemented here may surprise you. The tubular hinge between the screen and keyboard section is used as an enclosure to enhance the low notes. Does it work? Does it heck. Looks nice, though.
Core specs include an Intel Core 2 Duo T8300 running at 2.4GHz, 3GB of RAM, twin 250GB hard drives, and the latest ATI Radeon graphics cards. In other words it's a fantastic all-rounder and an ideal replacement for your desktop PC.
The Aspire 8920 is set for an April release. Click 'Next Photo' to have a look at the photos and wait with bated breath for a full review soon. -Rory Reid
The Aspire 8920 has a very chunky power button with blue LED backlighting. The aluminium hinge cap also benefits from a splash of blue, adding to the futuristic aesthetic.
The touch-sensitive media playback panel is way cool. Lights follow your finger as you slide it across the volume arc -- a bit like the transporter control panel in Star Trek. The panel tends to attract fingerprint smudges, but it is pretty useful.
The Aspire 8920 includes a VoIP phone, which also works as a wireless speakerphone. It connects to the laptop via Bluetooth and you can recharge it by sliding it inside the PC Card slot on the far right.
You get a Blu-ray drive, which is a nice touch since the laptop's display runs in true 16:9 widescreen, instead of the normal 16:10. Note the shortcut buttons for activating Bluetooth, a mail client, your Web browser and switching the wireless card on and off.
The mouse trackpad is good looking, but the buttons are slightly difficult to press. At least it has a fingerprint reader, though,
which is sligthly more convenient than entering a Windows password.
We can't remember seeing anything quite like this. Acer has used the hollow hinge between the screen and keyboard section to construct a bass tube. It sounds utterly rubbish, but it's a definite talking point.
The 8920 ships with a digital Freeview TV tuner. You also get an aerial in the box, plus an infrared remote control.