The Acer Aspire 5741 is a 15.6in laptop with a full-sized keyboard and a number pad and it feels comfortable to use on your lap. We just wish its screen was better.
The Acer Aspire 5741 comes in many guises, but the Aspire 5741-434G50Mn model that we reviewed is perfect for anyone who wants an affordable laptop that can be used for almost any task except serious gaming. It's a 15.6in laptop with a full-sized keyboard and a number pad and it feels comfortable to use on your lap. We just wish its screen was better.
Acer's Aspire 5741-434G50Mn is a 15.6in, Intel Core i5–based notebook that's inexpensive yet stylish, well-featured and suitable for any task except serious gaming. It feels reasonably well constructed and at 2.6kg, it's not overly heavy. It makes for an adequate desktop replacement, but it can also be taken to and from the office or classroom without putting too much strain on your shoulders (assuming you're not carrying much more than your laptop).
Aspire 5741: Performance and specifications
Its Intel Core i5-430M CPU runs at 2.26GHz and has two cores in addition to Hyper-Threading. It's perfect for multitasking and it will also be quick enough to rip DVDs and encode videos so that you can stream them to your TV, for example. In our Blender 3D rendering and iTunes MP3 encoding tests, the Aspire 5741 recorded times of 59sec and 1min 05sec, respectively. These results are almost exactly the same as the Dell Inspiron M501R, which uses the same CPU — the Aspire 5741-434G50Mn was 1sec faster in the Blender test.
The 500GB hard drive in the Acer Aspire 5741-434G50Mn has a 5400rpm spin speed. It recorded a relatively tame transfer speed of 26.51 megabytes per second in our tests, which is about 3MBps slower than the larger 640GB drive in the Dell Inspiron 15R.
In our video encoding test, in which we use AutoGordianKnot to encode a ripped DVD file to a 1.5GB Xvid file, the Aspire 5741 recorded a time of 1hr 15min, which is not a bad time, but it's a little slower than we expected. For example, the Inspiron 15R completed this test in 1hr 10min. Nevertheless, you can easily use this notebook to encode videos and rip DVDs, and you can even perform those tasks in the background while you do some real work.
You won't want to consider this laptop if you have aspirations of being a serious gamer, as the Intel HD graphics adaptor achieved a low score of 1926 in 3Dmark06. It will be fine when running games with relatively simple graphics (such as the preinstalled trial games), but it will struggle with first-person shooters and any games that require complex 3D scenes to be rendered at a fast rate.
Aspire 5741: User comfort
Overall the notebook is comfortable to use, thanks to an ample palm rest depth of 80mm and a touchpad that measures 47x80mm. It doesn't get overly warm, so you can type while resting the notebook on your lap. The keyboard has a chiclet-style layout in which the keys are spaced about 2mm apart, and it includes a number pad. We found the keyboard to be very comfortable to use, but we did have to get used to it. We found its keys to be a little too stiff for our liking, and until we got used to them, we made many typos in which we either missed letters or typed double letters.
Aspire 5741: Screen quality
The 15.6in screen has a native resolution of 1366x768 and its quality is not great. In particular, we found its vertical viewing angles to be too narrow and we found ourselves constantly changing the angle of the screen to make the colours look right. However, it does have plenty of brightness and despite being a glossy screen it's actually relatively easy to view documents while you're outdoors on a bright day. You'll still see your silhouette (as well as fingerprint marks) on the screen while you type a document, but the brightness of the screen is high enough to make almost all elements of the screen visible. However, you won't want to use it for a long period of time while out in the sun; as with all things black, the notebook's bezel will end up getting very hot.
Around the sides of the Aspire 5741's base you'll find a DVD burner, an SD card slot, VGA, HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet, microphone and headphone ports. There are three USB 2.0 ports, which we think is one too few for a notebook of this size. Furthermore, you don't get eSATA or an ExpressCard slot, so external storage options are limited to USB 2.0 and Ethernet. You do get Bluetooth, 802.11n Wi-Fi and a webcam.
Aspire 5741: Battery life
The six cell battery in the Aspire 5741 provides a good amount of longevity while away from an outlet. In our rundown test, in which we disable power management, enable Wi-Fi, maximise the screen brightness and loop an Xvid-encoded video, the laptop lasted 2hr 46min. This is an expected result for a 15.6in notebook with an integrated Intel graphics adaptor.
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