Acer has expanded its well known Travelmate range with the addition of its Travelmate 7740G model, which recently landed on our desk for review, and although the 7740G is a solid notebook in terms of features, it left us feeling a little perplexed as to what Acer was trying to achieve in its design.
Taking care of the processing side is an Intel Core i5 520M processor which runs at a standard frequency of 2.4 GHz and features 3 MB of L3 cache. Intel’s Core i5 range appears to be a popular choice amongst notebook manufacturers in the mid-range market and overall we can’t confess to having any complaints towards this solid range of CPUs, having gone through a number of notebooks running on them.
In addition to this the 7740G also incorporates 4 GB of DDR3 memory which is upgradable to 8 GB using two soDIMM modules, an impressively large 640 GB SATA hard drive, wireless 802.11n and Bluetooth 3.0 support and ships outfitted with a 32 bit copy of Windows 7 Professional.
Graphics are handled by an impressive notebook version of AMD’s ATI 5650 which is more than capable of handling all notebook related graphic demands while delivering a respectable level of gaming performance. It’s the same GPU that runs on Acer’s very impressive TimelineX 5820TG, and it features 1024 MB of dedicated DDR3 VRAM and also provides DirectX 11 support, which is a big plus in our books.
Other peripheral features include an optical drive, high-definition audio support, three USB 2.0 ports, a multi-card reader and an HDMI and VGA display port. Pretty much stock standard stuff for today’s mid-range market.
The 7740G’s 17’3” widescreen LED backlit display is something to behold, delivering an impressive High-Definition enabled resolution of 1600 x 900, and featuring impressive anti-glare technology the likes of which we have yet to see in another similarly positioned notebook. Glare can become a hindrance especially when you’re dealing with graphics a lot and its good to see this Acer dealing with a rather common problem.
Overall the display performed far better than we expected and is certainly the 7740G’s strongest feature.
The design prowess behind the 7740G is however sadly lacking, a mistake not uncommon with Acer. It is lined with a charcoal black plastic with a matte finish and incorporates elements of Lenovo’s ThinkPad range into the overall make up (straight, harsh edges designed for functionality rather than flare).
Unfortunately Acer is no Lenovo and we feel as though the manufacturer has failed to pull the look off, resulting in an early 90’s feel rather than giving the impression of a serious, business related notebook.
In addition to this the plastic also feels as though it is of poor quality, which degraded our overall perception of the machine.
The 7740G’s keyboard is also lacking is design foresight. Although it features a numerical keypad, which is a handy addition for any business user, it feels as though one isn’t typing at all when using it due to the closely knitted edges of the keys and their proximity to the notebook body. Call us crazy, but we like to experience the feeling of pressing in keys when using the keyboard.
With dimensions of 410 mm wide, 275 mm deep and 35.5 mm high the 7740G is also less than ideal for travel usage, which left us rather perplexed because it makes up part of Acer’s TravelMate range. At a hefty 2.9 kg the 7740G would also be more of a brick than a ‘mate’ during travel.
Our biggest gripe regarding performance is that only 2.49 GB of the 7740G’s 4 GB RAM is usable upon first use. We’re unsure why this is is the case; nonetheless we feel that Acer should have done more to ensure the full 4 GB could be utilized from the get go.
Overall however the notebook performed well during daily usage and the considerable number of features it brings to the table are useful.
With regards to graphical performance the 7740G clocked in at 3596 on 3DMarkVantage06, with an SM2.0 score of 1176 and a CPU score of 2790. This seats it solidly within the middle to upper notebook market with products such as the Asus UL30J and the Dell Studio 1558.
Although we are a little unsure of whether Acer intended the 7740G to be a large travelling laptop or a stay-at-home portable we were impressed with its features and functionality. Overall the 7740G offers a solid mid to upper range package for the business user.
Unfortunately we found the design to be quite a let down. So, if you don’t mind lugging around a modern notebook which is reminiscent of the best in 90's design then this may be for you.
The Acer TravelMate 7740G is currently available with a RRP of R14 499.
PROSExcellent display, packed with features
Poor design, only utilises 2.49 GB of RAM