When shopping for a basic notebook PC that neither sacrifices performance to be super-light or super-stylish, nor expects you to pay a hefty premium for power you might not even need, well, you’re usually spoilt for choice.
Dozens of models with only very tiny differences play argy-bargy on the shelves, encrusted with outlandish (and usually ineffective) speakers or function keys or other esoterica.
So the simplicity of the Aspire 5742G appeals… but there’s a fine line between minimalist and, well, just a bit bland.
Today’s notebooks are a pretty homogenous bunch, with specification determined by price-point. The 5742G confirms pretty precisely to the market norms. Because it’s neither top- nor bottom-end it uses Intel’s Core i5 CPU. This is a new chip that’s light on power usage and pretty big on power.
Memory is 4GB, which is normal for a 64-bit operating system. This is Windows 7 Home Premium, so while it offers all the home office style features you could possibly need, it can’t connect to a business-style network that uses a Domain. 802.11n WiFi means it does connect to standard wireless networks no problem though.
The 500GB hard drive is spacious yes, but with terabyte drives dropping in price, we’re wondering when this is going to become the norm. The video subsystem allows you to play most modern games.
The only really disappointing spec here in the screen maximum resolution. At 1366 x 768, the 15 inch screen can’t display to 1080p video (and it would be wasted on this screen size, anyway). It will handle 720p no problem, and an HDMI output allows you to export video at 1080p to a suitable TV, though.
Once upon a time the spec of your notebook could have a real effect on your productivity and the enjoyment of your entertainment. Power far outstrips demand these days, so the 5742G runs silky smooth and handles all video and web tasks without breaking a sweat.
Thanks to the 4GB of memory (of which 3.68GB is available for use) you can multi-task to your heart’s content.
And even though the screen resolution isn’t full HD, the lower pixel count puts less stress of the video subsystem, so games run faster. A welcome pay-off for the right kind of user.
The 5742G is characterised by average power, average looks, average weight, and average battery. This makes it so much like identically specced models from other manufacturers that shoppers may find themselves buying the competition instead of the Acer, especially if it can be distinguished by colour options, name-brand speakers and other such fripperies. That said, $1200 for a computer with this kind of performance, looked at objectively and compared to what we had just three or four years ago, is remarkable.