Acer's Aspire M5630 is the second machine to cross our paths with a dual HD DVD/Blu-ray reader, and interestingly despite the early adopter optical drive and quad core CPU, is focused firmly at the mainstream.
Packed in a generally appealing chassis with a futuristic bend, Acer has put some effort into giving the mainstream more than they're used to, with even a blue "Aspire" logo lighting up when the machine is turned on, and blue hard drive and network activity lights above this.
The visual aspiration seems to be to present a completely flat front, with optical drive stealth covers and even a semi-transparent bay door that covers the media bay, which features xD/SD/MS/CF card readers and a mini-firewire port.
As seems to be the trend these days no reset button is included, relying on the user to know that holding down the power button for five seconds will force shut it down. Otherwise the chassis is completely void of any other buttons, save the optical drive ejects. A raised area on the top supports two USB ports and headphone/microphone jacks, but unlike its recent competitors no gadgets bay/cable management is incorporated here.
Powered by a quad core Intel Core 2 Q6600 and packing 2GB RAM, the Aspire 5630 will certainly be up to most tasks, with the dual 250GB hard drives likely to be suitable for the majority of users.
While the Radeon 2400 Pro graphics card is perfect for playback of both formats, the optional DVI > HDMI connector has been left out, which would have been a nice addition for multimedia pundits, especially considering Acer has already gone halfway there with the Blu-ray/HD DVD combo drive, its easy to use AcerPlay software and wireless keyboard/mouse. The 2400 Pro certainly isn't worth considering for gaming, but that's not where this desktop is aimed.
Quite bizarrely an internal 56k modem has been included -- an interesting throwback we don't often see. While a large number of people are still on dial-up, we would have thought the transition to broadband would have killed off the bundled modems, leaving end-users to purchase their own. Similarly a parallel port and serial port are thrown in, identifying this as an upgrader's machine, destined for people who want to keep their decrepit printers.
Otherwise it's the usual suspects, apart from the optical and coax SPDIF outputs -- 8-channel sound, six USB ports, firewire, Ethernet and the never dying PS/2 ports.
The bundled speakers are too bass heavy, lacking mid and high end definition. These are only good for system sounds -- games and music will suffer.
Thanks to the quad core CPU PCMark05 gave back a respectable score of 6288, while the entry level graphics card gave back an incredibly lacklustre 1466 in 3DMark06 (although this is five times better than the onboard Intel graphics). We don't understand why companies are bundling quad-core CPUs in consumer desktops, when they'd barely struggle to use two cores for at least the lifetime of current computers -- we can only assume the price is right.
The M5630 seems unable to decide if it's an entry level or a multimedia PC -- but might be a good first foray for entry level users who want to do both.