If you're in the market for a multimedia-focused laptop that's good for use both at home and on the road then you could do worse than try Acer's Aspire 5951G.
Also known as just the Ethos, the Acer 5951G does a good job when it comes to sound, with a license paid to Dolby for its Home Theater software to enhance audio playback. See also: Group test: what's the best laptop?
The 15.6in glossy screen is a let-down, though. In terms of colour depth, it does a fine job, but we were disappointed to find a resolution of just 1366 x 768 pixels, which makes individual pixels visible to the eye. Nor is it high enough resolution to support 1080p HD video without downscaling.
This Acer Aspire Ethos 5951G-2418G75Mnkk laptop’s optical drive is CD/DVD only anyway, so if you’re looking for Blu-ray playback or high-definition video enjoyment, keep looking.
To top it off, the screen has a glossy finish, meaning that visibility is a problem outside of darkened rooms.
But there is plenty to recommend the Acer Aspire Ethos 5951G-2418G75Mnkk if you want something that can be used for work as well as play. The keyboard is easy to get along with and a numeric keypad to the right-hand side is good for quick and easy data input. The Arrow keys are a little too small, as is the left Shift key.
Performance-wise, the 2.3GHz Intel Core i5 does a good job, pushing the Acer Aspire Ethos 5951G-2418G75Mnkk to a respectable score of 122 points in the WorldBench 6 test suite. There's a generous 8GB of RAM, a decent-sized hard disk with 750GB of storage.
A non-removable lithium-ion battery let the Ethos run for over eight-and-a-half hours (508 mins) in our MobileMark tests - that's better than most other laptops of any type.
While the battery life lends itself to life on the road, the Acer Aspire Ethos 5951G-2418G75Mnkk is rather heavy at 3.3kg, and we wouldn't personally want to carry it around for too long.
If you're a gamer the frame rate of 53fps in FEAR at Maximum settings is a pleasing score, around what we'd expect to see from a nVidia GeForce GT 540M graphics card with 1GB memory.
There's one quirk that we're really not convinced by, though, and that's the remote control that’s built into the Acer Aspire Ethos 5951G-2418G75Mnkk.
However, it isn't just a remote control - it spends most of the time as the Ethos' touchpad. A sliding button at the front of the Acer Aspire Ethos 5951G-2418G75Mnkk flips the remote up so it can be removed from its position and it simply slides back into place.
We've no qualms with this as such, it's just that once the remote has been taken out you can't move the cursor, so should you mislay it, you're in trouble. You could be left with a laptop that you have to control using the Arrow keys, which is far from ideal.
As a remote control when you're watching a movie on the Acer it's absolutely fine, meaning that you don't have to get up to fiddle with the laptop all the time.
Connectivity options are good - there's one USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 and a combined eSATA/USB 2.0. There's a choice of VGA and HDMI and you'll also find a four-pin FireWire 400 port.