01 May 2009

Acer Aspire 3935-6504

Reasonably priced; one-touch backup button; sturdy design; thin profile

Weak graphics performance; narrow viewing angles; limited I/O ports

Editors' Take
This Aspire is an attractive 13-inch thin-and-light with an equally eye-catching price. It has a bright LED-backlit display, a full-size keyboard, and convenient backup, but its integrated graphics will disappoint the 3D crowd.

Acer Aspire 3935

Key Specs
Processor: 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7350
Memory: 3GB RAM
Storage: 250GB hard drive
Optical Drive: DVD±RW
Screen: 13.3 inches (1,366x768)
Graphics: Integrated Intel GMA 4500MHD
Weight: 4.2 pounds
Dimensions (HWD): 1x12.8x9.3 inches
Operating System: Windows Vista Home Premium (32-bit)

Reviewed by: John R. Delaney
Review Date: April 2009
Check out our slideshow for more photos.

The Acer Aspire 3935-6504 represents the latest addition to Acer’s popular Aspire line of laptops. Affordably priced ($899.99) and designed for easy travel, this slender 13-inch system offers a nice selection of user-friendly features, such as a one-touch backup button, a bright display, and a full-size keyboard. It’s missing a few ports found on other 13-inch models, however, and its graphics performance is less than stellar.

The Aspire 3935-6504 uses a super-slim metal chassis with an attractive brushed-metal finish, which Acer describes as golden brown but more closely resembles a dull bronze. The overall build quality is quite good and feels sturdy enough to endure the rigors of road travel, although the seam that runs along the front bezel is a bit too sharp and could use some smoothing. A highly polished Acer badge with raised lettering sits squarely in the middle of the lid. Under the lid is the frameless (edge-to-edge) 13.3-inch LED-backlit display with a 1,366x768 native resolution and a 16-to-9 aspect ratio. The screen is brightly lit and produces excellent color quality when viewing head on, but the colors lose their luster when viewed from the side. That said, the display did a fine job of handling fast-action video; Disney’s Bolt on DVD played smoothly and produced no motion artifacts or ghosting.

The textured keyboard deck matches the lid and contains Acer’s full-size FineTip keyboard, which features large, well-spaced keys and is a pleasure to type on. The touch pad, which looks small compared with the keyboard, is actually a bit wider than the one used on Dell’s Studio XPS 13. It provides smooth cursor movement, and it can be disabled using the amber-backlit button to the right. It also supports gesture control; this function seemed a bit skittish at first, but after a little practice, we were able to zoom in and out of documents and flip through photo albums with a few easy fingertip movements. Unfortunately, Acer does a poor job of documenting how to use the multi-gesture feature, so you’ll have to learn on the fly. There is a little sticker on the touch pad that gets you started.

A fingerprint reader is sandwiched between the left and right mouse buttons and works with Acer’s Bio Protection utility to add an extra measure of security. Above the keyboard is a strip of touch-sensitive buttons that control speaker volume and enable or disable the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios. You’ll also find a handy backup button that launches Acer’s Backup Manager Software, which lets you schedule full or incremental backups and perform a full system restore, including the operating system.

At the very top of the keyboard deck is a pair of high-volume speakers that support Dolby Home Theater signal processing to deliver crisp highs and midtones. (Predictably, though, they lack bass.) In the upper-right-hand corner is a SmartPower button, which automatically puts the system into a power-saving mode; this is really just a quick way to lower screen brightness and dial back the color scheme to Windows Vista Basic. This feature, while handy, would be much more useful if it actually changed the Windows Power Plan. Multimedia and connectivity features are located along the front and side of the system and include a Webcam, a five-format card reader, headphone and microphone jacks, an integrated multiformat DVD drive, Ethernet and VGA jacks, and three USB ports. However, this system lacks some of the I/O options we’re used to seeing, such as HDMI, FireWire, and eSATA ports, and it’s missing an ExpressCard slot, too.
Acer Aspire 3935

The Aspire 3935-6504 uses Intel’s 2GHz Core 2 Duo T7350 processor and comes with 3GB of DDR2 memory and Intel’s GMA 4500MHD integrated graphics solution. Scores of 963 (at 1,024x768 resolution) and 894 (at 1,366x768) on FutureMark’s 3DMark06 3D-graphics benchmark confirmed what we suspected: This is not a game-friendly notebook. If it’s 3D action you’re looking for, check out the Asus N80Vn-A1 or Dell Studio XPS 13, both of which offer dedicated graphics engines.

The Aspire 3935-6504’s PCMark Vantage score of 2,863 is slightly below average for the thin-and-light category but still managed to beat the HP Pavilion dv3z by 341 points. Likewise, its Cinebench 10 score of 4,067 came in just below average. The system needed 4 minutes and 30 seconds to complete our iTunes encoding test and 7 minutes and 37 seconds to finish our Windows Media Encoder test, both of which are right on target for this category. The four-cell battery lasted 2 hours and 21 minutes on our DVD rundown test, which is not terrible but pales in comparison to the lofty 4 hours and 20 minutes provided by the field-leading Lenovo ThinkPad SL300 thin-and-light.

We appreciate the roomy 250GB hard drive, which comes with Windows Vista Home Premium (32-bit) as well as an assortment of applications and utilities, such as Acer’s Arcade Deluxe and Video Conference Manager, NTI Media Maker, and Microsoft Works 9.0. Acer backs the system with a one-year warranty and 24/7 toll-free service.

The Aspire 3935-6504 won’t bowl you over with killer graphics performance, and its battery life certainly could be better. We also wish it offered a few more connectivity options. If you want to do some light gaming with graphics effects dialed back (and want to spend less than $1,000), go with the HP Pavilion dv3z. But if style, portability, and price are your primary concerns, you'll love the Acer Aspire 3935-6504. Those factors, plus its sturdy metal frame, thin profile, and user-friendly features, make it a strong choice.


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