Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G review

A hulking home entertainment machine with extra appeal for lazy people

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For

  • Vibrant screen
  • Tons of power
  • Solid and attractive body

Against

  • Speakers and touchpad
  • Weight
  • Steep price tag

When you think of the word laptop, it's inevitable that certain words spring to mind: mobility, lightness, portability, slow. Not so with the Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G which is here to show you just how far we've come

Okay, so it might be a few weeks (months?) since we dragged ourselves to the gym, and we obviously need to start going again after heaving the Acer Aspire Ethos 8941G from its box. This behemoth weighs a spine-crushing 4kg, which wasn't good news to our flabby biceps. Certainly a nasty surprise after all the dinky ultraportables we've reviewed recently.

Still, this expensive multimedia behemoth is designed to sit on your desk or table at home, and entertain you with the latest Hollywood blockbusters and action games. A commuter machine it certainly ain't.

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Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G: Features

One of the most interesting new features of the Ethos 8951G is the detachable touchpad, which converts into an infrared remote control when you slide it free. This gives you play, pause, skip and volume controls, so you can spread out on the sofa and enjoy your movies.

We were impressed by the long range and responsiveness of the remote, but we would have preferred a greater range of controls. If you want to go full-screen or fiddle with other settings, you're best off dragging yourself over to the laptop.

Also, the touchpad may work fine as a remote control, but it isn't very good as an actual touchpad. We noticed some serious sensitivity issues, with the mouse cursor responding erratically when we dragged our fingers over the pad. If you swipe at the edges of the touchpad, the cursor barely moves at all. Get yourself a mouse to avoid frustration.

Thankfully the keyboard is a lot better, using Acer's usual isolation-style design. The bulky frame provides plenty of space, while each key protrudes through an individual hole, separating them nicely. Despite this, the arrow keys are crushed into a single row.

Still, you shouldn't be doing much typing on the Ethos 8951G. This bad boy is built for entertainment, and the internal Blu-ray drive means you can watch explosion-packed action films the way they were meant to be enjoyed, in High Definition.

Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G: Screen

The Ethos 8951G's enormous 18.4-inch screen is perfect for taking in HD movies, thanks to its Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution. It's bright and colourful, with excellent contrast levels and reasonable viewing angles. If you want to attach something even bigger, you can use the VGA and HDMI ports.

You don't have to hook up a monitor to enjoy a film, but you probably should dig out some decent external speakers. The Ethos' built-in efforts offer reasonable sound quality but have less power than a potato battery, so you'll be struggling to hear anything if you're lounging on the other side of the room.

Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G: Performance

If you're more of a gamer than a movie buff, you'll be glad to hear that the Ethos 8951G has plenty of power tucked into that gigantic frame. One of Intel's most powerful Sandy Bridge Core i7 processors is on board, along with a whopping 8GB of RAM, so you won't need to upgrade any time soon.

Combined with the nVidia GeForce graphics card, you can run everything but the most demanding titles on full detail levels. Even better, nVidia's trademark Optimus technology means the dedicated GPU is only used when needed, so the battery lasts a full three hours when you aren't playing games.

You can fit plenty of games and movies on the massive 1.5TB hard drive, and can hook up a secondary drive using the eSATA port if your media collection is as huge as ours.

Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G: Verdict

The Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G may be an expensive beast of a machine, but it'll keep you entertained when the rest of the summer proves to be a washout.

Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G availability: Out now

Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G price: £1448