capsule review

Acer Aspire 9810-6829

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Acer Aspire 9810-6829 Notebook

    PCWorld Rating

    The Acer's 20.1-inch screen is hard to resist, but this hefty desktop replacement needs a detachable keyboard.

Whatever your work or entertainment aspirations, Acer's new notebook can probably handle it. This desktop replacement's enormous (20.1-inch) screen is bright and crisp, and its speakers are outstanding. A powerful workstation and an adequate gaming rig, it includes TV, Webcam, and bundled PC Card-chargeable VoIP phone features.

For a big unit, the 9810 has decent near-2-hour battery life and runs remarkably coolly. But it needs a detachable keyboard, to permit a more comfortable working distance away from the huge screen. And at a gargantuan 18.7 inches long by 15.1 inches deep by 2.7 inches tall, the 9810-6829 takes up 40 percent more space than the average desktop replacement configured with a 17-inch screen--so plan on doing some serious desktop reorganizing to clear sufficient space for it.

The 1.25-inch-thick screen is thicker than the rest of the notebook and has a built-in supportive foot to prevent it from toppling backward. Closing the lid entails manually locking two side latches. It's no great wonder that the total weight is 17.3 pounds (19.2 pounds including the power adapter). The screen has the same native 1680-by-1050-pixel resolution that most other big panels have; this makes for huge screen elements, which in turn results in very grainy images from the integrated 1.3-megapixel Webcam, but extremely good readability.

Overall, the 9810 would be excellent for any stationary purpose, but especially for working in multiple windows. The keyboard is quite comfortable. The 1.5-watt Acer 3Dsonic stereo speakers plus 4-watt BasSonic subwoofer produce loud, rich sound.

We reviewed the beefier of two preconfigured Aspire 9810 models. Our test unit's dual 5400-rpm 160GB hard drives are fast and can hold 320GB of content. Ports, connections and slots on the notebook include a card reader, an ExpressCard slot for next-generation peripherals, and serial and parallel ports for older peripherals. You also get a DVI-D port (for connecting an LCD monitor), four USB ports, a dual-layer DVD writer, audio ports (featuring a S/PDIF port) on the front, and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi switches with status LEDs. All of the connections except the power port are logically laid out, but it is squeezed in so close to the TV tuner connection on the back that you'll have to turn the cord so both can fit.

In addition to having the usual coaxial adapter cable for connecting the notebook to a set-top box or other home cable setup, the 9810 comes with a hybrid digital/analog antenna that hooks onto the top of the screen to help pick up analog or high-def signals from the airwaves. Another nice multimedia feature: Instead of the usual clumsy USB box connected by a long cable, the receiver for the Windows Media Center remote control is a no-muss, no-fuss thumb drive.

The 9810-6829 can run any operation well and juggles multiple open windows like a champ. In gaming, its 256MB Nvidia GeForce Go 7600 dedicated graphics chip helped it achieve frame rates that were plenty fast enough for playing Doom and Far Cry without skips or artifacts. The Acer's 2-GHz Core 2 Duo T7200 chip, 2GB of RAM, and Windows Vista Ultimate operating system enabled it to turn in a strong WorldBench 6 Beta 2 score of 75, virtually identical to the the HP Pavilion dv9000t's 74.

If you want the biggest, easiest-to-view notebook screen, the $2999 (as of April 11, 2007) Acer 9810-6829 is the obvious choice. You may also want to peel off a few more bucks to fetch a wireless keyboard and mouse. But if you already have trouble fitting a laptop on your cluttered desk, you may need to start by replacing your desk.

Carla Thornton

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    The Acer's 20.1-inch screen is hard to resist, but this hefty desktop replacement needs a detachable keyboard.

    Pros

    • Big and bright 20.1-inch screen
    • VoIP phone and built-in TV tuner

    Cons

    • Bulky and heavy
    • So-so battery life
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