The Aspire 5920 features Acer's new Gemstone design, which includes a glossy black lid, a light-gray interior, and blue LEDs on the media controls. The case's rounded corners and beveled edges give the laptop a soft look that's somewhat like the design found on the HP Pavilion dv6500t. Despite its soft looks, the Aspire 5920 feels pretty solid, though the screen did wobble a bit on its hinges when we accidentally bumped our desk. Screen wobbles aside, the laptop seems likely to withstand a few hard knocks; however, with a 7-pound weight that nearly qualifies it for the desktop replacement category, the laptop isn't likely to encounter anything more treacherous than your living room and the occasional stint in a laptop bag.
Acer designed the Aspire 5920 for media hounds, and the laptop's 15.4-inch display is sure to please. The fairly average 1,280x800 native resolution gets a boost from Acer's CrystalBrite technology, which results in deeper colors and sharper contrast. Unfortunately, the screen's glossy finish is among the most reflective we've seen lately; the reflections were manageable in a typical office environment but intolerable when we were seated with our backs to an outside window. High-definition content looks excellent on the Aspire 5920's display, though it's not really true 1080p resolution (for that you'll have to connect the laptop to an HDTV or larger LCD). Above the display sit a Webcam and dual-microphone array for video chats.
We enjoyed typing on the Acer Aspire 5920's full-size keyboard. The keys provided plenty of travel and were remarkably quiet. Our palms did frequently graze the laptop's sizable touch pad while typing, but the sensitivity of the pad was such that doing so did not misplace the cursor. Between the two standard mouse buttons sits a four-way scroll key that's particularly handy for reading Web pages and scrolling through long documents. We like how Acer has incorporated quick-launch buttons and media controls on the keyboard deck. A vertical row on the left side of the board contains on/off buttons for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi plus two programmable application-launch buttons that default to the Web browser and e-mail. A similar row of controls on the right side includes a button to launch Acer's Arcade media management application, which looks remarkably similar to Windows Media Center but lets you play CDs, DVDs, and media files without booting Windows. There are also buttons for play/pause, track forward, and track back; volume is controlled by a wheel on the laptop's front edge. Above the keyboard, next to the Dolby Surround speakers, sits the triangular "Empower" key, which launches a suite of utilities for managing battery life, network, and sound settings. We loved having such quick access to this information and enjoyed the design of the Empower suite, which looks very much like the Dashboard in Mac OS X. We were surprised that Acer didn't include a fingerprint reader on the Aspire 5920; though it's hardly a necessity, it is a convenience that's becoming increasingly common on midsize systems.