Acer Aspire 8930-6448

The original Acer Aspire 8920 was the very first 18-inch laptop we had a chance to review, and the follow-up Acer Aspire 8930-6448 is similar in terms of its essentials, with only a handful of component upgrades.

The display has the same native resolution as a 1080p HDTV; that coupled with a unique set of touch-sensitive media controls (although we weren’t crazy about the volume slider), make it an impressive package for movie watchers. That is, at least as long as your HD content is downloadable, because for $1,599 you don’t get a Blu-ray drive. We’d probably shell out the extra $200 for the 8930-7665 version, which includes a BD drive as well as a quad-core CPU.

Price as reviewed< $1,599
Processor 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9400
Memory 4GB, 800MHz DDR2
Hard drive 320GB 7,200rpm
Chipset Intel PM45
Graphics Nvidia GeForce 9700M GT
Operating System Windows Vista Ultimate
Dimensions (WD) 17.4 inches wide by 11.8 inches deep
Height 1.7 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 18.4 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 8.8/9.9 pounds
Category Desktop Replacement

The Acer Aspire 8930 is, like the 8920 before it, a boat of a laptop. As with other 18-inch models, the 16:9 display makes for a chassis that is wider, but shorter, than a typical 17-inch model that features a 16:10 screen. The entire system is decked out in black and dark grey, with a glossy, black lid and keyboard, and textured, dark-grey plastic on the wrist rest and touch pad.

We first saw the unique media controls on last year’s Aspire 8920, and this model has the same setup, with a touch panel on the left side of the keyboard tray. They are really just the same capacitive touch controls found on other laptops, arranged in roughly the shape of a handheld remote control. It’s a clever idea–very eye-catching–that, once you get used to, works fairly well, with the exception of the large volume slider, which was neither sensitive nor responsive enough for our tastes. To be fair, it’s a common problem with touch-sensitive volume sliders, which usually really only jump between preset volume points, even though they look like analog controls.

We also appreciated the 5.1 speaker system, which produced decent bass for a laptop, but not exactly room-filling sound.