Acer Aspire 7720G

The HD DVD drive is read only, rated at 1x, but it’ll write to all DVD media including DVD-Ram. Playing back high-definition content looks g...

The HD DVD drive is read only, rated at 1x, but it’ll write to all DVD media including DVD-Ram. Playing back high-definition content looks great on the 17in screen. The LCD is far better than the Pegasus 710’s, producing a bright, good contrast picture with reasonable viewing angles. The 1,440x900 resolution means 1080p content will get scaled down but you can connect a bigger screen via the HDCP-enabled DVI output, although you’ll probably need an HDMI-DVI dongle.

Speakers are excellent for a notebook though; a subwoofer on the bottom, like on the Pegasus 710, and Dolby-certified speakers give real kick for a small device.

A big flaw with HD DVD playback is that Acer pushes you through the Cyberlink Arcade Deluxe software. It’s cumbersome, slow to respond and less flexible than a proper version of Cyberlink PowerDVD. The graphics card, an Nvidia Geforce 8400M GS, isn’t particularly good either - AMD’s Radeon HD 2600 mobile chipset would be better, as video processing to reduce noise and jaggies isn’t the 8400M GS’s strong point.

It has 256MB of dedicated memory and scored 3,067 in 3Dmark05 and 26fps (frames per second) in Fear at 1,024x768 and high detail settings. The 7720G will be fine for the occasional game at lower resolutions. Other hardware includes a Santa Rosa-based Core 2 Duo T7300 processor, running at 2GHz, with 2GB 667MHz DDR2 Ram.

For storage, Acer has fitted two 5,400rpm 160GB disks, each with its own controller, so there’s no Raid.System performance was exactly what we’d expect from a Core 2 Duo T7300-based system, scoring 4,491 in PCmark05 and 2,952 in PCmark Vantage, our new Vista-optimised benchmark.

Battery life was rather lacklustre, staggering to 68 minutes in the DVD section of Mobilemark07 and two hours 24 minutes in the Mobilemark Reader test.

The high-definition war hasn’t been won yet, but £799 for an HD DVD notebook doesn’t seem such a big gamble. HD DVD has such a strong following that we doubt it will ever disappear.

The Aspire 7720G is great value for money, but the hefty design and poor keyboard means we can’t recommend it wholeheartedly.

Notebooks: Acer Aspire 7720G
Acer Aspire 7720G
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