Acer’s Aspire Ethos is an impressive beast. Not least because of its substantial size - it’s a hefty 18.4in model - but also because of its bold, minimalist design and superior build quality.
Peel off the stickers proclaiming the Core i5-450M processor, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650 1GB graphics and Windows 7 operating system, and it could hide in plain sight nestled between the distinguished black and silver components of a Bang and Olufsen hi-fi system.
Sound is indeed one of the Acer Aspire Ethos AS8943G's strong points. It’s unique feature among those on test being the inclusion of what Acer calls a 5.1 Dolby Home Theater surround-sound system.
Unless you’re small enough to actually sit on the keyboard, you won’t be getting sounds coming from behind you, but the six-speaker system does add a noticeable 3D ambience to film soundtracks and there’s a good deal more bass available than from smaller laptops such as the Sony and Samsung models reviewed here.
For music both a Medion Akoya P8613 and Toshiba Satellite A660-15T produced a richer sound.
The screen of the Acer Aspire Ethos AS8943G isn’t just large, it’s also the only one of the group to support the full high-definition 1080p resolution, so it’s best able to fully exploit its built-in Blu-ray drive.
On inserting a disc, Acer’s Arcade deluxe software kicks in and starts playing the movie for you. It’s a highly immersive experience and the best on offer from this round-up. In our tests it produced the most vivid colour, the best contrast and the deepest blacks. It’s also evenly illuminated across the whole screen.
Video as well as music playback can be controlled via the Acer Aspire Ethos AS8943G's wireless remote, or by the Acer Aspire Ethos AS8943G's touchpad which magically transforms into an illuminated control panel at the push of a button.
When it comes to getting some work done, the Acer Aspire Ethos AS8943G's 2.4GHz CPU delivers reasonable performance although it’s still outpaced by the competition. Its WorldBench 6 score of 99 points sits at the bottom of this table. Gaming performance however is the fastest of the bunch, edging above 30fps in our basic Crysis test.
A capacious 87Wh battery enables MobileMark 2007 to run for almost 4.5 hours (264 minutes), which is jolly impressive for a laptop of this size and power.
NEXT PAGE: The review of the Acer Aspire Ethos AS8943G from PC World Australia