Review: My Acer Aspire 5745PG. The Wolverine of laptops.

I had intended to try to blog every day, build a habit of it, but yesterday my laptop had other ideas.

It's quite a common thing that just when you have loads to be getting on with you suddenly find your tech' bailing out on you. This has happened quite a lot with my laptop, but hold on (insert screeching of tyres here), it's actually NOT the laptop's fault!

This laptop is now three years old, and I would hazard a guess that in the past three years I have made it do ten years worth of work. I am using it every day, often from around 6am to 11pm, so it's getting a lot more than usual usage, and the things I use it for are labour intensive.

A few details about the Aspire 5745PG.

It's very well built, for those interested in the specs' this one has an intel i3-350m processor, which is pretty good in general but not entirely up to the use I had in mind. Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit. NVIDEA GeForce 310m. 320GB drive, 4GB DDR3 memory. 15.6" HD LED LCD Touchscreen.

Beautiful little system at first, and was going very well until I got a message from Microsoft offering me a Windows 8 upgrade for £25. Checked it out, all genuine, so I figured Windows 8 is optimised for touchscreens, I have a touchscreen, hell yeah!

Hell no!

As we all know now, windows 8 sucks more than a porn star at an all-you-can-eat cock buffet. I had downloaded the spawn of Satan into what was a great little system. At first everything seemed fine, the operating system interface was a little strange, but I soon got used to it. Unfortunately the Aspire didn't, and started trying to cough-out Windows 8. Did I run a compatibility test before loading... Hell yeah! Did it come up fine... Hell yeah! Did the Aspire respond accordingly... Hell no! It started going tits-up rapidly. Screen freezes, data relocation, files I worked on mysteriously vanished. I ran every repair software I could think of but still it was as if my laptop had been in a serious accident and was just coming out of a coma.

I was ultimately left with one choice... Factory reset. Well whaddya know... It all came back from the dead just fine, but with Windows 7 again. There was I thinking that the upgrade was going to overwrite Windows 7, but instead I was back to almost normal. I say almost because the whole episode had left its mark on the poor little Aspire. It has never been quite right since, yet in spite of the trauma it still continues to work its little butt off on a daily basis.

This is why I refer to it as the 'Wolverine of Laptops', because it is damaged, yet carries on regardless. Not all is well though, because it does have a tendency to have bad days, and it's getting tired now. It's not just the whole Windows 8 episode which has affected it, I am also a heavy user. As stated I spend a lot of time on it, I write a lot and it soon became the machine I use most often for that. It's a very comfortable machine to use, the keyboard is closer to me than the one on my 17" Vaio, and basic laziness makes me write on this one rather than boot up the Vaio. I used to use the Vaio for watching DVDs on sometimes too, it's got a lot of screen real-estate and cinematic quality. The Aspire is a widescreen, so had the edge there where some films are concerned, it doesn't have the sound quality of the Vaio through the usual speakers, but stick headphones on it and yes, you have it just fine. The Aspire comes with the usual entertainment facilities, windows media player et cetera, and it also comes with a lot of touchscreen applications, amongst which is a touchscreen cinema mode. It's ok but I found something better. I bought a great program Cyberlink Power DVD 13, which basically transformed my system into a cinematic powerhouse. I can play any dvd and it'll upscale for optimum quality, it also... wait for it.... Converts 2D to 3D!

Yes, it's true, and it does a decent job of it too. If you want to know what the original Star Wars is like in 3D I'm your man, if you want to know what The Dark Knight is like in 3D, or The Matrix, or well... You get the general idea.

So the Aspire is also my number one choice for watching DVDs. Shame it's not a Blu-Ray machine.

Do I get a decent 3D effect even though the monitor on the laptop isn't a 3D monitor, yep, very nice. However there is a sister machine to this one that has 3D, but it wasn't a touchscreen model so I chose this one. I made the right choice because if you use Power DVD 13 you don't need it to have a 3D screen capability. The machine has an HDMI outlet, so I attached a cable to it and to my 3DTV, sat back and marvelled at the quality. I usually play 3D blu-rays through my PS3, and they come out looking great, but the quality of a 2D dvd played as 3D through Power DVD 13 attached to the 3DTV is fairly much equal.

Now we know that I write and watch films. I also use the Aspire for something else, which is my daily work.

Art and design, we're talking pretty much the full Adobe suite here. I'm on the 'Creative Cloud' so I have access to a lot of 'graphics intense' programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Flash, Edge Animate and so on. I'm very much a beginner with most of those, and this machine has taken a pounding whilst I've been getting to grips with Photoshop in particular and creating websites with Adobe Muse.

Given that this machine isn't really designed to be a Graphic Designer's workhorse it's been surprisingly good. It has given me three years of pretty much excellent service in spite of it having the Windows 8 experience, picking up various viruses from dodgy software downloads and generally doing the job of nine computers (I say that because I used to have nine computers to do the individual jobs on).

A tip about touchscreens. I went for the touchscreen option because I thought opening Photoshop in that would give me similar capabilities to a Wacom touchscreen. It doesn't. yes you can open Photoshop, but the moment you try to use your fingertip to draw something the Photoshop frame moves around. That isn't a very good thing. You'd think really that there'd be an inbuilt ability to pin Photoshop to the desktop to stop it moving. Maybe there's a way but I haven't found it yet. That was disappointing. Another bad thing is that for some bizarre reason the touchscreen makes everything darker, and going into the settings and increasing the laptop's brightness to maximum as well as tweaking the other settings still doesn't give true colours. Not good for art and design at all. So I tend to do the basic donkey-work on the screen, but to tidy-up the images I attach to the TV and adjust the colours where necessary. Still I can't really say it's too far off the mark.

Nowadays the Aspire is suffering from fatigue. I am regularly having glitches here and there, a lot of that is because I have overloaded the poor little bugger and worked it to within an inch of its life, but it keeps doing a Wolverine on me and healing itself enough to fight on to the bitter end.

I've decided that it won't have a bitter end, it's going to have a new addition to the family.

Looking at another Acer, yes I know there are Apple machines, and various others, but to be honest the Aspire has been so good to me that I'd be happy to have another, and they do one which has a lot going for it. The ACER-Aspire-V3-772G has a 17.3" screen, enough memory 1TB Sata and a 60GB SSD, an i7 processor, and the NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 760M 8GB dedicated graphics capability to enable me to work on all of my projects without the fear that the laptop can't handle it or will grind to a halt when I work on huge pieces of art or 3D modelling/animation. I'll be using it for work, work and more work. I may watch a film on it at some point though ;) It's pretty much a 'gaming laptop' but I'm not much of a gamer. However, if it's fast enough for the most modern games to play flawlessly on it, then it'll handle whatever animations I want to do with it.

As for my Aspire 5745PG, it's going to get a clean-up. I'll be using it for writing on, surfing the net on and of course for watching DVDs on. It'll not retire completely, just take it easier for the remainder of its years with the dignity it deserves.

This has been a Mighty Joe Blog.

Thank you for reading.

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