If you want a mid-priced laptop able to translate a solid specification list into rock-solid performance, the Acer TravelMate 5720 may be your best choice.

See our Laptop Advisor website for expert reviews of today’s best laptops, plus read our essential advice to make sure you choose the right specs

Crammed with a 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300 processor and a 160GB hard disk, we can only wonder what would have happened if Acer had packed in twice the RAM. Even with its 1GB of DDR2, however, the Acer TravelMate 5720 was able to produce an excellent speed score of 80 WorldBench points.

The Acer TravelMate 5720 is a reliable workhorse and, as our real-world tests illustrate, it will have no trouble running office applications under Windows Vista Business.

In line with the Acer TravelMate 5720's office focus, there are few concessions to multimedia or leisure use, although Acer has included a basic 0.3Mp webcam plus some average speakers.

The Acer TravelMate 5720's speakers can be used for video-conferencing, but the sound quality isn’t great for DVDs or music. Despite this, the Acer’s 256MB ATI Mobility Radeon X2500 graphics chip proved adequate in our gaming tests.

The crisp 15.4in screen is one of the Acer TravelMate 5720’s other highlights, displaying deep and vivid colours.

With Acer having largely built its reputation on its ability to put together notebooks, we're surprised to find the Acer TravelMate 5720 has a less than straightforward keyboard setup.

The Acer TravelMate 5720 has a slight curve to it – presumably to aid the TravelMate’s ergonomics – and we found this and the smaller-than-average keys took a little getting used to. The trackpad and scroll button presented no such problems, however.

There are seven dedicated buttons to launch frequently used items. As well as the usual web browser, Outlook email and so on, there’s a button to set up a password. You can easily tell the status of the Acer TravelMate 5720’s Wi-Fi and Bluetooth settings as there are separate switches on the front of the notebook to turn these off and on.

Another feature to note is SignalUP – a pair of vertical antennae that act in the same way as a Mimo (multiple input multiple output) router, strengthening Wi-Fi reception by working together and by being raised away from any interference that could be caused the Acer TravelMate 5720’s electrical circuits. Our tests proved this feature’s worth and we found we were able to connect to wireless networks using the Acer, when other notebooks weren’t able to detect one.

We’d have been more impressed still had the Acer TravelMate 5720 managed to last more than an hour and a half in our battery endurance tests but, as a laptop that’s likely to be used for hot-desking and at home as much as on the road, this figure isn’t critical.

The Acer TravelMate 5720 is a 3kg model, which is as much as we think any notebook designed for portable use should be.

Acer TravelMate 5720: Specs

  • 15.4in, 1,280x800 screen
  • 3kg
  • 360x267x43mm
  • battery life under intensive testing: 1hr 29 mins
  • WorldBench speed score: 80
  • games test framerate: 26fps
  • 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300
  • 1GB DDR2 RAM
  • 160GB hard drive
  • DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM
  • SD Card
  • 802.11 a/b/g/Bluetooth
  • 4x USB
  • 1x FireWire
  • PC Card
  • Express Card
  • 256MB ATI Mobility Radeon X2500
  • 37/18/59W
  • Windows Vista Business
  • 15.4in, 1,280x800 screen
  • 3kg
  • 360x267x43mm
  • battery life under intensive testing: 1hr 29 mins
  • WorldBench speed score: 80
  • games test framerate: 26fps
  • 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300
  • 1GB DDR2 RAM
  • 160GB hard drive
  • DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM
  • SD Card
  • 802.11 a/b/g/Bluetooth
  • 4x USB
  • 1x FireWire
  • PC Card
  • Express Card
  • 256MB ATI Mobility Radeon X2500
  • 37/18/59W
  • Windows Vista Business

OUR VERDICT

On balance, we think the Acer TravelMate 5720 is the best of the mid-range laptops we’ve reviewed recently. Its performance and specifications, along with its £699 price tag and excellent connectivity options, earn the Acer TravelMate 5720 our Best Buy award.

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