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Introduction
The term "Budget Laptop" used to be a bit of a mixed metaphor. In an era when laptop computers often cost at least twice as much as better specified desktop machines, and I'm talking no more than five years ago, budget laptops were either second hand and possessing a very dubious history, or large, unwieldy boxes with poor screens, awful battery life and minimal processing power.

Despite being a tight-wad, I tend to do my shopping with an old adage at the forefront of my mind, that of "buy cheap...buy twice". Of course life's never quite as clear cut as we'd like to believe. While it's generally true that you almost never get more than you've paid for, there are plenty of examples of people getting a whole lot less than they paid for.

This review is one of our more unusual types in that you'll probably struggle to find a notebook matching the configuration of the one we're testing. So what's the point testing it? Well, Acer user this same screen and chassis for a variety of their current range, the main difference being the addition of more memory and a discrete graphics chip which is great for gaming but slightly less great for battery life.

Acer seem to be on something of a roll of late with a range of great looking and equally great performing LCD screens and a lineup of notebooks that are at last gaining them the attention they've been deserving of for a while. The Acer Aspire 1691 WLMI I'm looking at today is a stripped down version which was actually being retailed through the Comet retail chain, though in reality just about all it was missing was a discrete ATi X600 graphics chip, now mostly replaced by the X700 in the current range.

Operating System

Microsoft® Windows® XP Home Edition

Processor & Chipset

Mobile Intel® Centrino™ technology featuring:
Intel® Pentium® M725 1.6GHz processor with 2MB L2 Cache and 400Mhz FSB. Supports Enhanced Intel® SpeedStep® Technology
Intel® 915PM Express chipset
Wireless: Integrated Intel® PRO/Wireless 2200 BG network connection

Memory

DDR333 memory, upgradeable to 2 GB using two soDIMM modules

HDD

60GB ATA/100 hard disc drive

Storage

Integrated DVD-Dual Double Layer

Display

15.4" WXGA Acer CrystalBrite colour TFT LCD with 1280 × 800 pixel resolution; 16:10 viewing ratio
16.7 million colours

Multimedia

Audio system with two built-in speakers
MS-Sound compatible
Built-in microphone
S/PDIF support

Communication

10/100/1000Mbps Fast Ethernet; Wake-on-LAN ready
56K ITU V.92 modem with PTT approval; Wake-on-Ring ready
Integrated Intel® PRO/Wireless 2200BG network connection 802.11b/g dual band Wi-Fi CERTIFIED solution
Acer SignalUp wireless technology support
Wireless PAN: integrated Bluetooth® (depending on model)

I/O Interfaces

3x USB 2.0
1x Infrared (FIR)
1x VGA for external monitor
1x PC Card slot (Type II)
1x S-video/TV-out (NTSC/PAL) port
1x IEEE 1394 port
1x Modem (RJ-11) jack
1x Ethernet (RJ-45) jack
Headphones/speaker/line-out port (with S/PDIF Support)
1x microphone/ line-in jack
1x DC-in jack for AC adapter
4-in-1 card reader (SD/MMC/MS/MS Pro)

Security

Slot for Kensington lock
BIOS, user and supervisor passwords

Power supply and battery

ACPI power management supporting Standby and Hibernation modes
65 W Li-ion battery pack
3.5-hour battery life (actual battery life might vary, depending on usage and configuration);
1.5-hour rapid charge
3.5-hour charge-in-use
65 W AC adapter

Keyboard & Special Controls

88-/89-key keyboard; international language support; 2.5 mm (minimum) key travel
Touchpad with 4-way integrated scroll button
12 function keys; four cursor keys; two Windows® keys; hotkey controls; embedded numeric keypad
Four easy-launch buttons: Internet browser, email with LED, Acer E-manager key, and one user-programmable button
Wireless LAN LED-button
Bluetooth® LED-button

Weight and dimensions

364 (W) x 279 (D) x 33.9/38.9 (H) mm (14.3 x 11.0 x 1.3/1.5 inches)
2.95 kg* (6.48 lbs.) for 15.4" WXGA LCD model (*actual weight may differ, depending on configuration)

Quality & Reliability Tests

Temperature & humidity test
Free drop test
Acoustics test
Weight and pressure test
Shock and vibration test
Electrostatic discharge immunity test