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Design and Ergonomics

The notebook has the typical design of Acer’s latest models. Its case is light gray with a manufacturer’s logo in a corner of the lid. The edges are all rounded off to add the feeling of visual lightness to the notebook. You can see colors alternating in this “hamburger”: the silver lid is followed by a black screen bezel. Next goes the silver body of the computer with a black bottom and feet.

Rather loud stereo speakers are placed symmetrically on the left and right sides of the notebook’s bottom. The only disadvantage of this placement is that you’ll cover them with your hands as you’re typing text on the notebook’s keyboard. Well, you’ll get some sound anyway whereas the speakers are nearer to you if you are using the notebook from a distance with a remote control to watch a movie or a TV program.

Without opening the notebook up, you can see a large group of ports, indicators and connectors between the two stereo speakers (from left to right):

  • Bluetooth indicator (alight when the Bluetooth interface is enabled)
  • Bluetooth/3G switch (it turns the integrated Bluetooth/3G interface on and off; the On status is shown by the appropriate indicator)
  • 3G indicator
  • WLAN indicator
  • WLAN On/Off switch
  • Power indicator
  • Battery indicator
  • CIR receiver (receives signals from the remote control so that you could control and navigate multimedia applications from a distance)
  • Microphone input
  • Audio line input
  • S/PDIF connector combined with a headphones output

You can see a two-color picture, too, as you open the notebook up. The silvery bottom surface with a jet black square of the touchpad changes into a black keyboard framed within a black bezel. The screen bezel is black and glossy, making dust and dirty fingerprints immediately conspicuous. The manufacturer’s name is centered below the screen. The series and model names are on the right.

The hinges stick out of the notebook’s bottom half. The display can be unfolded to an angle of nearly 180 degrees as the next photograph shows.

The Acer Aspire 5654WLMi is equipped with a 15.4” matrix with a max resolution of 1280x800 pixels and an aspect ratio of 16:10 (WXGA). The viewing angles seem good enough both vertically and horizontally. The LCD display features the exclusive Acer CrystalBrite technology that improves color saturation and image quality. However, the glassiness of the display creates certain problems because you’ll see every well-lit object reflected in the screen as in a mirror. So, you have to take care about proper lighting to avoid seeing flares and silhouettes on the screen during work.

I measured the brightness and contrast of the notebook’s display using a Pantone ColorVision Spyder with OptiCAL version 3.7.8 software. I selected the highest brightness setting before this test. When I changed the power source, the display brightness remained almost the same, while the contrast grew up a little.

AC power source:

  • 111.0cd/sq.m brightness, 64:1 contrast ratio

DC power source:

  • 109.3cd/sq.m brightness, 69:1 contrast ratio

The Acer Aspire 5654WLMi is equipped with a black 88-key keyboard, strangely without Acer’s traditional “smiling” design. The arrow buttons are shifted a little below the keyboard baseline to reduce the risk of your pressing them unintentionally. The designers put the euro and dollar signs right above the Arrow Right and Arrow Left buttons. The Fn button is located in the bottom left corner, next to the Control button, which should be convenient for people who use shortcuts like Ctrl+C or Ctrl+V. There is a numeric pad and two special Windows keys available. The Context Menu button is to the right of the spacebar. The Windows button is to the left of the spacebar. The functional buttons have a reduced size. Home, PgUp, PgDn and End make up a vertical column on the left. Pause, Print Screen, Insert and Delete are placed in the same row with the functional buttons. The letters are painted in white, the functional buttons are blue (you can access their additional functions by pressing them together with Fn).

The notebook’s touchpad is typical of Acer’s latest models. It is large and handy. The touch-sensitive panel is sunken a little into the case and is colored jet black which is different from the color of the surrounding bezel. Below the panel there are two buttons that serve instead of the mouse’s ones. The four-position joystick for scrolling text is colored light silver.

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