Acer's Gemstone laptops haven't changed in design since we last looked at one -- the lid is still a deep black with inset sparkling material, and the interior still all militaristic angles in cut, with semi-futuristic blue lights and the drab "ceramic" grey interior. The design is actually quite sharp and enduring, we just wish they'd go for a different base colour. We're told the interior is to receive a refresh shortly, so we wait with anticipation.
The 2920 needs to reorganise some elements compared to the rest of the family, purely because it's a smaller, 12.1-inch screen laptop. Acer's Empowerment software is accessible via the blue gemstone button in the top left, while a strip of blue lighting below this shows when the hard drive is being accessed, and when scroll lock and num lock are turned on.
To the top right are the quick access buttons, allowing you to launch Acer's Arcade Deluxe (Acer's built in media centre software), turn wireless on or off, and run the Web browser, e-mail, or turn Bluetooth on and off. A blue ring-lit power button is nestled right in the middle, between the indicator lights and quick launch buttons.
At the bottom, the extra wide touchpad is fantastic to use, and the mouse buttons responsive. There are indicators for whether the system is active, sleeping, or charging on the bottom left.
The screen looks good for the size, and although suffers the usual shallow vertical viewing angles exhibited by laptop screens, is brilliant in colour, and we quite enjoyed watching movies on it. It offers a 1,280x800 resolution, and mounted into the top of the screen is a 1.3-megapixel camera and microphone.
In comparison to its bigger cousins, the speakers are mounted on the lip, facing the user, instead of directly under the monitor. The sound is passable, but don't let the Dolby badge fool you -- it's still laptop speakers, and you'll get better results out of plugging in a good set of headphones.
The 2920 bristles with ports for its size: three USB ports, one Express Card 54, SD/xD/MS card reader, S-video and VGA out. There is, very disappointingly, a lack of digital video out, especially when the trend these days is to offer an HDMI port. A DVD+-RW is positioned on the right hand side, while at the front is a headphone and microphone port, as well as an analog spin-wheel for adjusting the volume. The hot air vent is positioned on the back, meaning that an external mouse can be used without your hand heating up.
Connectivity is a case of all checkboxes ticked: 802.11a/b/g/n, Bluetooth, Gigabit Ethernet and 56k modem means you should be able to communicate wherever you are.
Featuring an Intel GMA X3100 as the graphics card means this is an applications focused laptop, and not a gaming one, although the Core 2 Duo T7300 and 2GB of RAM means it will be very good at what it's intended for, and along with the 250GB hard drive it will satiate most users' needs.
3DMark06 gave back a very lacklustre 582, but as mentioned this is not a gaming machine. The more important PCMark05 scored 4018, so unless you're going to be doing some crazy level Photoshop work or need extreme performance, this machine will certainly fit the bill. Battery time during DVD playback was reasonable considering the extra grunt, weighing in at one hour, 42 minutes and 57 seconds, with all power saving options turned off and screen brightness set to maximum.
The Aspire 2920 should suit most people who are on a budget and like to stay portable, but still need a bit of grunt. If it had an HDMI port, it'd almost be the perfect solution.