capsule review

Acer Aspire 1520

At a Glance
  • Acer Aspire 1520

Acer Aspire 1520
Artwork: Rick Rizner, John Goddard

Looking for an inexpensive laptop that caters to your southpaw? You might appreciate the fact that the $1199 Acer Aspire 1520 has no right-side connections whatsoever. Lefties will enjoy having the fixed DVD±RW drive, FireWire port, and two PC Card slots on the left side of the laptop. All the other connections are on the rear.

The Aspire 1520 is not the best candidate for frequent travel. It's a thick and heavy laptop that measures almost 2 inches tall and weighs 7.7 pounds (9.5 pounds including the power adapter). However, it's a handsome black and silver unit with a good touchpad-equipped keyboard, including a four-way scroll and four application shortcut buttons. Memory and storage are upgradable--you don't even need a screwdriver to remove the hard drive, which sits behind the battery.

We haven't evaluated any other 1.8-GHz Mobile Athlon 64 3000+ processor-equipped laptops, but the Aspire 1520 held its own in our speed tests. The 1520 earned a WorldBench 5 score of 75, placing it 2 points lower than a laptop equipped with a 1.8-GHz Pentium M 745 CPU. The battery, a long, impressive-looking power pack that forms the front of the laptop, lasted 2.5 hours, a little less time than average.

Acer's Aspire Arcade application, a Microsoft Media Center-like interface that features a simple CD player application and shortcuts to DVD burning and video editing applications, adds some multimedia panache to the 1520. Unfortunately, the notebook has weak stereo speakers and lacks dedicated music- or DVD-playing buttons. You even have to adjust the volume with keystroke combinations.

We have two other complaints about the design. The audio ports and all four of the 1520's USB 2.0 ports are on the back of the case, making it a hassle to plug in a flash memory drive or a pair of headphones. Also, the Wi-Fi switch on our test unit was seated so far in the case that it was hard to activate at times.

Acer provides just one print manual, which covers both the 1520 and another Aspire model. Fortunately, it's not difficult to find the information you need about the 1520.

Lefties looking for a budget-price desktop replacement could be happy with this unit, but its bulk makes it unsuitable for travel.

Acer Aspire 1520


WorldBench 5 score of 75, 1.8-GHz Mobile Athlon 64 3000+ processor, 512MB of DDR333 SDRAM, Windows XP Professional, 15.4-inch wide-screen, 80GB hard drive, DVD±RW drive, built-in V.92 modem and gigabit ethernet, 802.11g wireless, touchpad pointing device, 9.5-pound weight (including AC adapter and phone cord). One-year parts and labor warranty, 9-hour weekday toll-free support.
$1199
800/733-2237
www.acer.com

Carla Thornton

To comment on this article and other PCWorld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
At a Glance
  • Acer Aspire 1520

Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.