Acer Aspire 9300-5005
At a Glance
Acer Aspire 9300-5005 Notebook
The Aspire 9300 is suited to basic work and entertainment needs. Its limited performance is offset by strong battery life.
The Aspire 9300-5005 delivers plenty of usability, if not speed, for $949 (as of April 11, 2007). Equipped with a 1.6-GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-50 processor and only 1GB of memory, it's a bit slow for a desktop replacement, but it provides plenty of performance for Web surfers and word processors looking for a big screen, a full-size keyboard, and lots of file storage at a modest price. At 3.5 hours, its battery life is surprisingly good, too.
At 15.7 inches wide by 11.6 inches deep by 1.7 inches tall, and weighing 8-pounds (not including the 1.3-pound power adapter), the 9300-5005 is solidly middle of the road in size and weight. The 17-inch WXGA+ CrystalBrite screen is crisp and reasonably bright, but not too glossy. Its 1400 by 900 resolution displays icons at a size big enough to see without squinting, yet it offers users enough space to work comfortably in multiple windows open. To serve that purpose even better, Acer bundles its GridVista automatic window-sizing utility.
The sturdy, sensibly arranged keyboard includes a numerical keypad. Better yet, the large, dark touchpad and mouse buttons integrate a four-way rocker button that scrolls Web and application pages both vertically and horizontally. You can program four shortcut buttons at the top of the keyboard to jump to your favorite Web sites or applications; two buttons located down the left side conveniently toggle Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless activity on and off, though you have to provide the Bluetooth ExpressCard yourself--neither a minicard nor an antenna comes built in.
The first thing you notice when you open the notebook is its integrated Webcam, center-mounted in a big silver frame in the lid. The Webcam can rotate 225 degrees to shoot both in front of and behind the screen. Connections include four USB ports, an SD slot, a PC Card slot, and even a front-mounted S/PDIF port for accommodating the latest external speakers. The hard drive has a generous 120GB capacity.
The 9300-5005's sound and speed left us wishing for more, though. The speakers, partially exposed in the wrist rest when the lid is closed, delivered mediocre output.
The laptop earned a WorldBench 6 Beta 2 score of 48, at least 40 percent behind recent top performing notebooks on business applications. Nevertheless, it played DVD movies smoothly--and can burn discs in its dual-layer DVD writer slowly but surely. The 3D games in our tests were unplayable, however--jerking or stopping dead in their tracks.
On the positive side, the Acer's powerful 4800-milliamp battery lasted 3.5 hours, far above average for a desktop replacement's battery life.
When you factor in the cost of another 1GB of RAM to goose the system's speed, and of even a basic set of productivity apps such as Microsoft Works 8.5, it becomes clear that the 9300-5005 isn't quite a $949 notebook after all. But if you can live without some or all of these options, it's a very good deal.