Acer Aspire Z5610 review:

Acer Aspire Z5610

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
MSRP: $899.99
Compare These

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.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

7.5 Overall
  • Design 7.0
  • Features 9.0
  • Performance 6.0
  • Support 6.0

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.

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.

  Acer Aspire Z5610 HP TouchSmart 300-1020
Price $899 $899
Display size/resolution 23 inches, 1,920x1,080 20 inches, 1,600x900
CPU 2.6GHz Intel Pentium Dual-Core E5300 2.7GHz AMD Athlon II X2 235e
Memory 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics 512MB ATI Radeon HD 4570 256MB (shared) ATI Radeon HD 3200 integrated graphics chip
Hard drives 320GB, 7,200rpm 500GB, 7,200rpm
Optical drive dual-layer DVD burner dual-layer DVD burner
Networking Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n wireless Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n wireless
Operating system Windows 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 iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Multimedia multitasking (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering multiple CPUs  
Rendering single CPU  
Asus Essentio CG5270-BP004
HP TouchSmart 300-1020
Acer Aspire Z5610
Gateway One ZX4800-02

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.

This week on CNET News

Discuss: Acer Aspire Z5610

Please log in to CNET to comment
Post Comment As...