Acer Aspire 5500

Gamers can definitely take a look at this Acer which provides great value-for-money.


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Acer has undoubtedly been a choice for users who want good features in an affordable package. With the Aspire 5502WXMi, Acer takes it one step further by delivering a notebook that can actually challenge desktop replacements in terms of graphical power. The thin-and-light sports excellent connectivity options and has a good build. That said, we'd probably have given this laptop our coveted Editors' Choice award if not for its rather poor battery life.


The Acer Aspire 5502WXMi comes with a 14.1-inch CrystalBrite screen.

Design
The new Aspire 5502WXMi takes on Acer's successful Folio design that has been incorporated throughout the Taiwanese manufacturer's range of notebooks. Just like the equally new TravelMate 3212WXCi, you get a 14.1-inch WXGA screen with a resolution of 1,280 x 800, but utilising Acer's CrystalBrite technology which enhances image quality. The thin-and-light is slightly thicker than last year's TravelMate 3201XCi at 335 x 240 x 34.1mm. As such, it's also heavier at 2.51kg (with the 6-cell battery).

The keyboard provides great response and enough space for your fingers to maneuver around. However, the multimedia keys on the right side for DVD/CD playback should have been dedicated as opposed to being made to use the Function key in tandem. Like others in the Folio range, there's a four-directional scroll between the sturdy mouse buttons which we kinda liked. Lining the front edge are the usual Bluetooth and Wi-Fi buttons glowing blue and orange which bear the distinct mark of an Acer. The handy quick launch keys which lie above the buttons activate your email app, browser, Acer's eManager panel and (self-explanatory) launch manager. Ports-wise, most of the expansion options are cluttered on the left side.


Woah. That's a slot-loading optical drive for you.

Features
The Aspire is powered by the midrange Pentium M processor 740 (1.73GHz), 512MB (2 x 256MB) of fast DDR2 RAM and a fair 60GB hard disk. For its price, the Acer surprisingly incorporates the ATI Mobility Radeon X700 with 64MB of dedicated VRAM which is probably one of the more important reasons anyone would select the 5502WXMi -- an affordable notebook with a good graphics engine. Another reason is the inclusion of a DVD±RW drive with DVD+R dual-layer support. More conveniently -- it has a slot-loading design.

Connectivity isn't a problem with this Acer. With three USB 2.0 ports, FireWire, S-video out, VGA-out and a 5-in-1 card reader with SD/MMC/MS/MS PRO/xD support, we aren't complaining. Networking is a blast with 802.11b/g wireless LAN, Gigabit Ethernet, 56K modem, Bluetooth and even infrared. If we really had to gripe, it would be the lack of an ExpressCard slot and 802.11a surfing, but seriously these are pretty minor details.


The eKey allows you to adjust your settings in a user-friendly interface.

Once again, Acer includes the eKey which launches a user-friendly interface to customise your notebook as you please. You can adjust power managment, presention, recovery and general settings. In addition, there's the new eNetManagement app which manages your connection to the Net. This will overide the default Windows wireless manager when used.

Performance
We ran our standard benchmark software, MobileMark 2002, to determine the performance and battery life of the unit. We were pleased to find that the Acer hit a score of 216, certainly holding its own with its peers running on a 1.73GHz processor and even beating the Toshiba Portege S100 with a 2.0GHz chip (214 score) in the process.

BAPCo MobileMark2002 performance rating
Acer Aspire 5502WXMi
(Proc 740 1.73GHz; 512MB RAM)
216
BenQ Joybook S72
(Proc 740 1.73GHz; 512MB RAM)
219
Samsung X50
(Proc 740 1.73GHz; 512MB RAM)
207

NOTE: Products in these tests are for comparative purposes only and are not necessarily available in the Australian market.

3D rendering is the Acer's forte or did we already mention that? With a superb score of 5,333, this simply blasts away all the other notebooks which have attempted to stake a claim on being the best gaming thin-and-light. Powered by the high-end ATI Mobility Radeon X700, the Aspire 5502WXMi is without a doubt the choice for gamers and, better yet, at an affordable price! On the other hand, we haven't tried the Acer TravelMate 4102WLMi(D) yet now, have we?

Futuremark's 3DMark03 (1,024 x 768)
Acer Aspire 5502WXMi
(64MB ATI Mobility Radeon X700)
5333
BenQ Joybook S72
(64MB ATI Mobility Radeon X600)
3160
Samsung X50
(64MB ATI Mobility Radeon X600)
3082

At 189 minutes (just a tad over 3 hours), the Acer marginally outdid the BenQ Joybook S72, but even so this pales in comparison to the Samsung X50. To put things in perspective, the Samsung actually has a larger 15.4-inch screen which would sap more battery life and yet it could still last 49 minutes longer than the Acer.

BAPCo MobileMark2002 battery life (in minutes)
Acer Aspire 5502WXMi
(14.1-inch)
189
BenQ Joybook S72
(14-inch)
187
Samsung X50
(15.4-inch)
238

Along with Windows XP Home Edition, the Aspire comes with CyberLink's PowerProducer Gold, NTI Backup NOW! 4 and NTI CD & DVD-Maker 7. The Backup NOW application gives a touch of user-friendliness in backing up your files. As for CD & DVD-Maker, the useful part would be JewelCase Maker which allows you to design CD/DVD sleeves as well as the disc itself. Acer's proprietary GridVista is one useful application which allocates each window to a portion of the screen while Acer Arcade provides a media centre-like interface to play DVDs and CDs.

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aristotle 30
9
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"Value for money"

aristotle 30 posted a review   

Sam Bennett
1
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"Resounding thumbs-up"

Sam Bennett posted a review   

The Aspire 5500 has been available in Australia since July, but it has taken ages to get itself noticed. With a higher spec than similar models from Asus, BenQ and Samsung, the Aspire 5500 is at least $500 less expensive.
Available to Australia is the 5503WXMi which has a P-M 750, an 80GB 4200rpm HDD but no Bluetooth.
Acer's distributors in Australia are evidently somewhat unreliable so be prepared to be a bit frustrated by delivery times. You should also know that the pixel-perfect policy is no longer included in the standard warranty, but should be available as an option when you purchase the notebook - ask for details!
Now that I have the laptop I am delighted with it. It looks and feels great, and if 'glossy' screens do it for you - you'll love this one.
It's surprisingly light for 2.5Kg and while materials are slightly on the cheap side, build quality is reassuring. The powerful X700 GPU is perfect for the latest games and DVD playback and if you're tech-savvy, installation of the latest ATi software provides a raft of advanced options. The hot-keys are all intuitively positioned on and around the comfortable keyboard and the touchpad is one of the best I've ever used.

Sound through the speakers is predictably tinny but decent headphones prove the ability of the Sonoma chipset to deliver quality audio. The DVD writer isn't the fastest, but hey! it's a slot-loading dual-layer drive!
Cons? The battery isn't great, and it will degrade if allowed to get hot while charging or in use. Gamers beware, If you plan to overclock, eject the battery and play on a.c.! The laptop can easily run pretty hot - not uncomfortably so, but enough to make you careful about how you use it.
In fairness, this is a complaint common to this class of laptop and there isn't much anyone can do about it until a really effective portable cooling solution comes along.
I bought mine for ~$2550 including upgrades to XP Pro, 1GB RAM and a 3Year onsite Notebook Warranty.




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User Reviews / Comments  Acer Aspire 5500

  • aristotle 30

    aristotle 30

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  • Sam Bennett

    Sam Bennett

    Rating1

    "The Aspire 5500 has been available in Australia since July, but it has taken ages to get itself noticed. With a higher spec than similar models from Asus, BenQ and Samsung, the Aspire 5500 is at le..."

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