Thin-and-light notebooks are always welcome here in the TechSmart office. Sure they usually cost more but if you carry your notebook around a lot you'll know where that extra money went at the end of a long day.
The Aspire 5820TG is part of the Acer's Timeline X range of notebooks that combines thin-and-light computing with a decent battery life plus very solid performance.
As an extra benefit the 5820TG also includes a number pad, making this the ideal solution for on-the-road number crunchers.
We’ve knocked Acer now and again for the lacklustre design on some of their models. The 5820 however is a classy machine. Its stylish black brushed metallic exterior is matched by brushed grey on the inside, but unfortunately the plain black keyboard was a big let down.
It simply doesn’t look the part; a bit like Shakira smiling with Shane MacGowan’s teeth. OK, it’s not that bad, but for such a stylish machine Acer should have done better.
Size and weight
At 2.4 kg it weights in at the top of the thin-and-light spectrum, with others in this category usually dropping in at 1.5 kg. This is primarily due to its extra width, thanks to the added number pad; which brings its width to 397 mm, basically the length of a full sized notebooks, albeit much thinner at 31 mm.
The added benefit to larger size is that the Acer also sports a respectable (but reflective) 15.6" HD-ready LED backlit screen.
So while it might not be the thinnest or lightest out there, compared to notebooks matching its processing power and screen size the Acer is a more manageable machine.
Getting down to the nitty gritty the Acer comes with the Intel Core i5 450M processor, one of the best performing mid-range notebook CPUs we've come across. We've found this processor to be very stable, providing more than adequate power overall, with Intel’s Turbo Boost technology giving the extra kick when need be.
To top this off Acer mixes business with pleasure, throwing in the ATI HD 5650 graphics card as found on their 7740G machine. It provides the machine with a very capable gaming performance and it''s 3DMark06 score of 7633 outclassed most other notebook we''ve tested with the exception of Asus' 3D gaming machine.
Much like the Sony VAIO Z56GG, you're able to switch between GPUs, with a choice between the power intensive ATI and the more subtle (both on power and performance) Intel one. Unlike the Sony though you don't have a physical button that does the switching which resulted in us using this functionality a lot less than we would have liked to.
Like most new notebooks it comes equipped with 4 GB of RAM, while Acer provides a spacious 640 GB hard disk.
While it’s stated that the 5820 can handle a full day's work with an eight hour battery life, this needs to be qualified since this decreases as soon as you take the machine out of power saving mode.
Still, battery life compared to other notebooks is impressive at 3 ½ hours with intensive multitasking, with five hours and more not uncommon doing regular office work.
Acer makes sure that you’re covered in the USB port department providing a comfortable four with a HDMI connection to boot. Although there is no high speed data transfer port such as eSATA, the 5820TG throws in an optical drive which is usually a luxury on these thin-and-light machines.
Keyboard and Trackpad
The 5820TG's keyboard is basically the same as the one found on Acer’s 7740G, and although not as stylish as we may have wanted, it didn't provide any typing difficulties.
The multitouch trackpad’s up and down scrolling could have been slightly smoother, but performed well nonetheless with enough of a frame around it to distinguish the pad from the rest of the palm rest. We’re not big fans of unibutton trackpad buttons, and the one found on the Acer didn’t do much to change that perception.
Another aspect Acer could have paid a bit more attention to is the machine’s sound. Although the speakers are marked as Dolby Home Theatre with Virtual Surround Sound, it was simply too soft. Movie watching on the machine is a lot better if you connect a portable speaker.
A solid processor, an excellent graphics card and a lovely battery life - what more can you ask for in a thin-and-light body? And at R10 999 we think the Acer Aspire TimelineX 5820TG makes for a very good deal.
It might not be the thinnest or lightest available, but the number pad should add to its appeal in the business sector. With a not-so-stylish keypad and so-so sound performance its only other critiques, we think Acer has a very good thing going. Click here for more info from Acer.
Futuremark 3DMark06: 7633
Passmark rating: 1126
Cinebench 11.5: OpenGL - 19.40 fps, CPU - 2.17
PROSDecent GPU, CPU and battery life. Number pad a bonus.
Not really that thin or light, speakers and keypad design a disappointment.