Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Acer Aspire 5613AWLMi
- Acer Empowering Technology software, media controls, price
- Speaker quality, no FireWire, Core Duo (as opposed to Core 2 Duo)
Although the Acer Aspire 5613AWLMi has no definitively outstanding feature worth mentioning, the combination of its media controls, shortcuts, Acer Empowering Technology software, price and performance-results make it a nice machine to own.
Price$ 1,550.00 (AUD)
Clad in Acer's age-old silver and black trimmings, the Aspire 5613AWLMi notebook is a simple but effective unit, which features all the hardware needed for a comfortable notebook experience. There's little that jumps this notebook ahead of the pack, except its lower price tag.
The core hardware and the additional features, such as the media controls and 1.3 megapixel camera, are commonly used among notebooks and the performance results are as we would expect from a notebook in this price range. Alas, it's a cheap and stylish option if you're after a notebook that will handle everyday tasks like emailing, homework assignments, Web browsing and storing photos.
At the heart of this system is a 1.86GHz Core Duo T2350 CPU from Intel, 1GB of DDR2 RAM and a GeForce Go 7300 graphics chip. At 2.9kg, it isn't overly weighty and won't be too difficult to carry around, but it's far from being an ultra-portable. The 15.4in screen has a maximum resolution of 1280x800 and produces a bright, clear image with a reasonably good viewing angle. Colour inversion and loss of contrast occurs when viewing the screen from sharper vertical angles, but overall it's a comfortable screen to look at for long periods of time.
Although the Aspire is not using the Core 2 Duo or 'Merom' CPU that's the basis of Intel's latest Centrino Platform codenamed Santa Rosa, the Core Duo is still a good performer. In WorldBench 6 it scored a total of 64. This puts it in line with systems using the 1.66GHz Core 2 Duo CPU, but cheaper on average. In our Cdex MP3 encoding test, where we encode 53 minutes worth of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3 files, it took 157 seconds, an expected result for the installed hardware.
The GeForce Go 7300 is far from being an enthusiasts gaming graphics chip, but still offers some basic gaming options. In 3DMark 2001 SE it scored 7310, indicating that it will handle some basic games. However, its score of 627 in 3DMark 2006 shows that newer, more shader intensive games will not be playable.
To test the battery life we looped a DVD while running the notebook from its battery. We consider this a worst-case scenario test, as the optical drive and speakers are both put to use, as well as the core components such as the CPU and RAM. In this test the Aspire managed to hold out for 80 minutes, a reasonable, but not outstanding result that wasn't quite long enough to finish our feature length movie.
The Aspire 5613AWLMi includes a selection of quick-access media controls including play/pause, forward and back buttons, as well as volume controls. Also installed above the keyboard are a few programmable buttons for email and Web browsers, a programmable application launcher button and a shortcut to the Acer profile manager, which controls networking and power profiles. The profile manager comes as part of the Acer Empowering Technology software pre-installed on the notebook. Also featured in this software is a data encryption tool, a device locker, which allows you to lock your hard drive or optical drive from use without a password, a backup/restore system and access to system details as well as a system up-time counter.
A DVD re-writer and a 120GB hard drive are installed, taking care of any storage needs. The media card reader supports SD, MMC, MS-Pro and xD media cards, so downloading digital photos from a digital camera is a breeze. Apart from the media card reader a further three USB 2.0 ports are available for device connections. For video output there's a VGA and an S-Video port, while for networking Acer includes a 10/00 Ethernet connection, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g and a 56k modem. There's also one PC Card slot, but no FireWire. On the front edge of the notebook you'll find a Wi-Fi hardware switch, a microphone, a headphone and a line in port as well as the speakers, which offer reasonable sound at low volumes, but become distorted at higher volumes. The 1.3 megapixel camera is mounted into the bezel above the screen and swivels 225 degrees.
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