Acer Aspire 9504WSMi

We've seen a few notebooks geared towards home entertainment over the past few months, but none so fully featured as the Aspire 9504WSMi from Acer. Okay, it may not have the fastest processor or the best graphics card, but it does have a hybrid TV tuner.

This means it can pick up both digital and analog transmissions. It can't do both at the same time, as it isn't a dual tuner, but it's rare enough to find a notebook with any kind of built-in TV tuner.

As if this wasn't enough, Acer's Arcade software is included. Essentially offering you the same functionality as Windows Media Center, Arcade can be launched from within Windows or can be started up without booting Windows by pressing a button at the front of the unit. There are two remote controls - one fits neatly into the PC Card slot on the left-hand side, while the other, larger, one can be left on your bedside table for watching DVDs when you get home.

And there's a great screen for watching movies on, too - the 17in 1440x900 widescreen gives resonant colours and pinpoint detail, which you'll notice when playing games. The ATI Mobility Radeon X700 might pale in comparison with the GeForce Go 7800s, but it does a good job, delivering a score of 16607 in 3DMark SE 2001.

There's a Bluetooth-enabled VoIP phone, the keyboard is well laid out and there's even a numeric keypad on the left-hand side. For storage and backup, there's a 120GB hard drive and a dual-layer DVD writer.

Verdict: We couldn't find a weak point and, believe us, we put the Acer through its paces. With a WorldBench score of 90, it'll breeze through most tasks. If you're looking for something powerful with great entertainment potential then look no further than the Acer Aspire 9504WSMi.

SPECIFICATIONS: 2GHz Intel Pentium M 760 processor; Windows XP Home; 1GB DDR RAM; 120GB hard drive; 17in 1440x900 TFT display; 256MB ATI Mobility Radeon X700 graphics card; 24x/24x/16x (CD-ROM/-R/-RW) 8x/8x/8x/4x/4x/4x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/+RDL/-RW/+RW) drive; 802.11b/g; Bluetooth; Microsoft Works 8; Acer Arcade; Bluetooth VoIP phone; hybrid digital/analog TV tuner card; 1-year international warranty; 401x290x42mm; 3.9kg.

URL: www.acer.com.au

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Ben Camm-Jones

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