The Acer Aspire 5920 is a smart laptop which includes Intel's much-vaunted Santa Rosa Centrino chipset.

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Some devices (MP3 players and digital cameras, say) play easily on the idea of style and sophistication. For laptop manufacturers, though, aesthetic appeal tends to be harder to create.

Acer thinks it might have cracked this particular nut with its new range of Aspire laptops, the jewel in its crown being its much-hyped Gemstone concept. Amounting to a look and feel that creates a clear product identity, we weren't totally convinced by Gemstone. The sleek black outer casing of the Acer Aspire 5920 makes it look sophisticated but, although it adds contrast to its appearance, we weren't very keen on the Acer Aspire 5920's off-white interior and keyboard. And since the Acer Aspire 5920 is quite a large laptop, portability isn't going to be one of its major selling points.

But there are other more significant elements to the Acer Aspire 5920 - namely its support for Intel Santa Rosa. Santa Rosa is the fourth generation of Intel's Centrino platform and, as with previous versions of Centrino, laptop manufacturers can use the Intel Santa Rosa branding only if their machine meets certain hardware requirements.

So buying Intel Santa Rosa means you're likely to get some excellent components - an Intel Core 2 Duo chip, a Mobile 965 Express chipset, wireless capabilities that stretch to the Draft 802.11n standard, and a minimum of the Vista-ready X3100 Intel graphics accelerator. There are a few other nice twists as well. The new rendition of Dynamic Acceleration, for instance, ensures that single-threaded applications make better use of the second core built into the Core 2 Duo chips. And, of course, Intel Santa Rosa is carefully designed to boost battery life.

So does the Intel Santa Rosa version of Centrino really work? Well, the initial signs are very good. The Acer Aspire 5920's battery life of 130 minutes isn't the best we've seen, but it is fairly close.


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