Ordinary user’s review of Acer 5738G

===== Review of Acer 5738G =====
I bought this laptop after doing a “literature survey” of the different models available in the market. I had considered Dell Studio as an alternative; however it was extremely expensive for nearly the same specifications. HP & Lenovo were way too expensive. My primary requirements were a good CPU( Core2Duo 2.0+), 4GB RAM, a low-end graphics card and a good HDD. 5738G fitted in admirably. My requirements were not on the portability side. There were enough laptops with 2GB RAM or so from Sony and costing nearly twice this model. Also, I tried to cleverly time my purchase during some festival season, where the offers would be there. The usual freebies thrown in would be a USB mouse, a pair of cheap speakers or something similar. I went to an Acer store itself and was convinced by the salesman to shell out 42,000/- for this. He would throw in a cable lock(which he himself admitted was one of those “cheap Chinese junk”) and a USB hub. I had a look at the mouse; it was a micro-mouse barely bigger than the inside of my palm and was of some obscure Chinese make; I should have known better. I thought that as i was going to an Acer store, the offer there may be more true to the word. On my protests, I got an equally cheap cable lock which is lying unused. Anyway, after I swiped my card the salesman quickly brought in a new box, showed me that the seals were intact, broke them and powered up the laptop. When I reached home, I saw that the instructions that the laptops were *not* supposed to be powered up on battery alone for the first time. This showed the complete lack of professionalism again.

I had searched for a DOS-prompt or preferably GNU/Linux loaded laptop. Sadly, these things are unheard of in Bangalore. Nobody had such models, the most they might do was to wipe out the default OS and install some earlier version of Fedora but this was not advisable. So I paid the Windows tax and took the Vista Home Premium version with the promise of free upgrade to Windows 7 as and when it came. Little did I know that this was another conspiracy to hoodwink and cheat from consumers. This is because when Windows 7 was released, I tried to upgrade but the media for my region was supposed to be shipped for which I would have to shell out yet another good amount of money. So much for free market.

I installed Fedora 12 on it. The default stupid HDD configuration is one huge drive. I had to use the re-partition tool to create two nearly equal partitions and installed Fedora on the other. The laptop came with a lot of junk software, games, promos and a big virus called Microsoft Office 2007. This last piece of junk was a 3 month trial version and reminded this everytime I started it. I uninstalled it faster than it could squeak “Bill Gates”. The general feel is ok; the keypad feels cheap but is fairly rugged. I have banged on it a number of times in frustration and it seems to have taken it well. On the other hand, I have a Dell Latitude E6400 which is feeling its “Shift” key despite careful usage. Thats one plus for Acer though I am not sure if the “ruggedness” is deliberate or accidental. The screen is ok, a bit too reflective, you have to turn on the screenlight quite a bit to do something useful. Naturally, this reduces battery life.

Coming to the most important part, the battery life is something I am fairly ok with. This laptop comes with the usual company specific power management tools. There are 3 modes:
Powersaver: Saves power and extends battery life. I get about 2 hr 30-40 minutes for very normal usage. Maybe I have a browser, a text editor and some python scripts running while I learn the language.

Balanced: This turns up the power more. I have noticed a 50% reduction in compilation time for the ITK software library between this and the Balanced mode. Obviously this eats up battery, never timed it though.

High Performance: As per the blurb this mode reduces battery life and bring out the high performance. When you turn this on, be sure to bring out your pan to boil tea or eggs. Unfortunately, you would have barely begun to boil the stuff when the laptop freezes and shuts down. Initially, when this happened I thought that the laptop had conked out. Then I figured that the heating was too high. So, the “high performance” mode is really a low performance mode. In any case, there is not much of difference between “Balanced” and this mode at least in terms of compilation time for ITK code. This is a serious disappointment with Acer and I consider this as lying like the “friendly” greengrocer who has been shafting you for years and generations together.

One thing which worries me is that the battery is now getting charged to 91% of its rated capacity at full charge. I am not sure if this is the norm. This is strange because i do not do a full discharge everytime and start re-charging when the battery indicator goes less than 20%.

========== Conclusion =========
This was my first laptop purchase. I am not elated and not too disappointed. I would have expected a clearer specification of the deal from the Acer exclusive authorised dealer; I would definitely have expected better power management. I would also expect to have a no Windows version. The laptop bag is piss poor and the laptop is heavy. Not for regular travellers.

On the plus side… erm.. the laptop still works. I think that the 5738G is now phased out and Acer is offering newer and better configurations at lesser or equal prices barely 8 months after I purchased 5738G. However that is the flipside of the electronic market. The idea behind the review is to make the other aware of my general experience with Acer and of course the model. Based on my 5738G experience, I would probably pay some more money and try out HP.
If you can stick tolerate Windows Acer offers features at prices that are really tempting. Also, once you accept that the quality of Sony and Acer models are going to differ considering the price difference; you would probably not feel too bad. Dell is way too heavy and my friends have reported the heating problem.

This review is of course kind of incomplete without the after sales services. Thankfully, I have not yet had problems which would require such trips and hopefully I would not need it either!

One major grouse is that despite paying for the full Vista, I do not have an installation media. Sure, I do have a backup and restore option which will “restore” my last stable state in case the C drive gets corrupted. However, I will not be able to install a fresh version. This is rather annoying, after all I have paid a good amount. All laptop manufacturers are following this tradition now sadly.

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