With its pearly white keyboard, media player buttons and garish blue LED strips, the Acer Aspire 5920 Gemstone might look a bit gaudy at first, but don't let this put you off as it offers an amazing array of features for the asking price.

For a start, there's no compromising on the CPU, as the Acer Aspire 5920 Gemstone comes with a fully fledged 2GHz Core 2 Duo T5750. This has twice as much Level 2 cache memory as the Pentium dual-core CPUs often found in budget laptops. It also has a faster 667MHz front side bus, which makes it a significantly faster CPU, as the WorldBench 6 score of 78 demonstrates.

Despite its capable speed, the Acer Aspire 5920 Gemstone also impresses us with its battery life, clocking up 3.5 hours in our MobileMark 2007 test.

We were impressed by the Acer Aspire 5920 Gemstone's surprisingly bright 15.4in widescreen TFT. This showed off some seriously vibrant colours. You also get a subwoofer that provides a reasonable boost in bass, along with Dolby virtual surround sound. You're not going to rival the drum and bass DJ next door with this machine, but it's a good notch above the standard tinny rattling that you usually get from budget laptops.

Refreshingly, the Acer Aspire 5920 Gemstone comes with an S-Video out port, so you can hook it up to a compatible TV for use with Windows Media Center, which is included in Vista Home Premium Edition. You'll just need to plug a USB TV adaptor into one of the three USB 2.0 ports on the sides of the machine, and you'll have a proper media centre PC.

Unfortunately, Acer seems to have provided the S-Video connection in preference to an HDMI output for connecting the machine to an HDTV, but you'll have no problem watching DVDs on the supplied dual-layer DVD burner on the right. All the other features you'd expect from a laptop are also present in the Acer Aspire 5920 Gemstone, with wide Wi-Fi compatibility coming from the 802.11a/b/g adaptor, as well as an infrared port, modem, network port and mini FireWire port. There's a slot for SD and MemoryStick cards as well.

The build-quality is surprisingly good too, with the Acer Aspire 5920 Gemstone's flash-looking shiny black lid offering solid protection to the screen underneath. Meanwhile, the keyboard feels a bit light when you're typing, but it's also solid enough and doesn't move around.


The Acer Aspire 5920 Gemstone's white insides and gimmicky interior won't be to everyone's tastes, but if you can forgive that then this is a fast, well-featured laptop for just under £400.