Looking for a full-featured business notebook that doesn't cost a bundle? Look no further than the Acer TravelMate 5720, which makes up for its somewhat bland looks with fast performance and long endurance. You get a speedy Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of RAM, and perks such as a fingerprint reader and built-in webcam, all for a reasonable $1,399.
Although the TravelMate 5720 is far from flashy, the magnesium alloy ProFile chassis has a sturdy feel. We like the ergonomic keyboard; angled ever so slightly, the keys responded with a nice kick, making for a very comfortable typing experience. Along the left side are quick-launch buttons for Internet, e-mail, search, and other functions.
Acer conveniently places the audio jacks right up front, so you won't have to worry about cable tangles. Next to those is a 5-in-1 card reader (MMC, SD, Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, xD). Wi-Fi and Bluetooth switches are also right up front for easy reach. On the left side is a gigabit Ethernet port, VGA, DVI, S-Video ports, and a FireWire port. One USB 2.0 port sits on the left, too; unfortunately, the other three are placed awkwardly in the back.
TravelMate 5720 Display
When we loaded a DVD of Two For the Money, the movie looked fine on the 15.4-inch, 1280 x 800-pixel matte display. Colors didn't pop out at us the way they do on glossy screens, so movie watching, while acceptable, is far from exhilarating. Viewing angles were slim, so you might want to think twice about using this notebook for giving presentations.
Security Features and Utilities
We were glad to see the included fingerprint scanner, which registered our prints easily and didn't require multiple swipes. You can even use a finger swipe to boot the machine. You'll need to set BIOS passwords to enable this feature, however. The 5720 also comes with Acer's Empowering Technology, which includes such features as eLock management for locking and unlocking storage drives with a password. It also includes eRecovery management for backing up or restoring to older save points, eDataSecurity for encrypting and decrypting files, as well as ePower management for custom power settings.
Acer 5720 Performance
The 5720's 2.2-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500 processor with 2GB of memory and a 160GB hard drive performed reasonably well on our tests. On PCMark Vantage it scored a decent 3,184, and the score was backed up by its solid multitasking abilities. We ran a few Internet Explorer windows, QuickTime, Skype, Adobe Reader, and a DVD simultaneously without any playback issues. On MobileMark 2007, the 5720 notched a score of 176, which is 30 points above average.
A dedicated ATI Mobility Radeon HD 2400 XT graphics processor garnered a slightly below-average score of 3,495 on 3DMark03. That's still plenty of graphics horsepower for business tasks, though. You won't be playing Crysis on your lunch hour, but this GPU is decent. It held up on F.E.A.R. with the resolution set to 1024 x 768 in autodetect mode, pulling in 23 frames per second.
Battery Life and Wireless
Battery life was also impressive at 4 hours and 1 minute with Wi-Fi on and 4:21 with the Wi-Fi turned off. That's more than an hour above average for mainstream notebooks. Wi-Fi throughput was also strong: The 5720's Wi-Fi scores were solid with its 802.11a/b/g/draft-n radio. At 15 feet from our router, the 5720 pulled in 18.8 Mbps. At 50 it hardly budged, still offering 18.4 Mbps of throughput.
Acer TravelMate 5270 Verdict
Overall, the Acer TravelMate 5720 notebook offers enough features to keep business users satisfied and working quickly. Its fast performance, long battery life, and generous screen real estate make it a very good choice for corridor warriors and meeting junkies.