Can I play Blu-ray DVD player on my Laptop computer? What else is needed

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Can I play Blu-ray disc as Star Wars in my DVD player to the computer?”  by Susan White.

The short answer to your question is that you can not play a Blu-ray support on your DVD player to the computer if the DVD drive is a Blu-ray player. If a standard DVD player supported Blu-ray read our entertainment options would be much easier. Instead of special hardware is required for Blu-ray discs. Think about the jump from DVD to Blu-ray as something similar to the jump from a standard CD DVD. A DVD player can usually play a CD, but a CD player can not play a DVD. Blu-ray has a similar problem. For playback on your computer, there are additional challenges beyond just having the right equipment.

Additional requirements for watching Blu-ray movies

In addition to the need for a Blu-ray drive connected to your computer, you also need several additional features before watching a Blu-ray movie.

HDCP is required for both the video card in your computer and the monitor you connect to the video card. The rules are slightly different for the desktop and laptop.

HDCP and Desktops: If the video card has an HDMI connection, you can usually assume that it also supports HDCP. In some cases, DVI-out on video cards also support HDCP, but this is very contradictory. Checking with the support site for the manufacturer of the video card is the only way to know for sure. If your video card has only VGA connections, you need to update your video card to watch Blu-ray movies with your computer. The monitors are a little trickier, because often they do not clear whether it is HDCP compatible or not. VGA input on a monitor will not support HDCP, in most cases, DVI-in. Your safest route is a monitor with HDMI-in. In an ideal setting from the HDMI output on your video card HDMI-in on a monitor keeps headaches Blu-ray playback to a minimum.

HDCP and laptops: In general, laptops manufactured in 2007 or later have a secure video path with support for HDCP. This is not true in all areas and it is often impossible to say with certainty without connecting a Blu-ray player and try to watch a movie. Laptops built before 2007 often do not have a video card with sufficient capacity video processing for Blu-ray playback, so you do not have HDCP support is generally a non-issue for older hardware.

Blu-ray software is also necessary to watch Blu-ray movies on your computer. I use Cyberlink PowerDVD or ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre 5 for Blu-ray playback on my computer, which is currently the most viable option. PowerDVD includes an application to help you troubleshoot if your components are compatible Blu-ray, which makes the entire process less frustrating. These blu-ray software also support 3D blu-ray playback.

In summary, to play Blu-ray movies on your computer, you need: a Blu-ray player, HDCP compliant video card, an HDCP-compliant monitor, and software with Blu-ray support. Once you have all these parts, in theory, your Blu-ray movies will play smoothly.

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Asus G74SX

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 Asus G74SX

If you’re after a machine to play Battlefield 3, Skyrim and Modern Warfare 3, look no further. The Asus G74S is a mammoth gaming laptop, which has the power to play all the latest titles, and while you might not get as much for your money when compared with full form desktops, it’s up there with the best.

Buying a gaming laptop offers fantastic pay offs in terms of space and portability. If you don’t have room for a hulking desktop system, or like to have the option of taking your laptop away from your home, the Asus G74S is perfect.

The G74S is a whopping 17.3″ and features a full HD screen, which makes games look great. The screen is matte, so no pesky reflections will ruin your experience. While this technology takes the life out of images, the full 1920 x 1080 resolution keeps things looking great, and is just as adept at playing movies too.

Bright and beautiful

The panel is stunningly bright – great for gaming in dark rooms, and it’s also 3D-enabled, using Nvidia’s 3D Vision active-shutter technology. This means the panel has super-swift refresh rates, which makes day-to-day tasks feel snappier too.

It’s one of the slickest integrations of 3D tech we’ve seen, and with the receiver built into the body of the G74S, there was no fuss getting it working. All the content we tried looked fantastic.

To play the latest games you need the latest technology, and a top-of-the-range mobile Intel Core i7 2630QM processor is included here, which aced our lab tests. It’s up there with the biggest and baddest systems, and is the same chip found in the more famous Alienware M18x.

Anyone who makes a large gaming laptop will immediately be compared with the Alienware, but we think that the Asus is more than a match for its extra-terrestrial rival. There’s 8GB of RAM, which is double that found on the stingy M18x.

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 86 minutes
Cinebench: 16914
3DMark 2006: 15270

The hard drive is also a whopping 1.5TB (that’s 1500GB) which, in today’s terms, means almost unlimited space. The Alienware M18x ships with just 250GB, which gives you an idea of the great value offered by the G74S over its competitors.

What’s more, there’s also a Blu-ray drive to boot, so you can play the latest movies in high-definition.

At 4.6kg, you can get some idea of the build quality of the Asus G74S. It weighs the same as four Toshiba Ultrabooks, and is as solid as any laptop you’ll find.

Looks are uninspiring, and there’s no keyboard back lighting, or flashy extras, but that’s no great loss. The Asus G74S is a fantastic, power-packed gaming machine, which will also appeal to movie lovers looking for a desktop-replacement system too.

The screen and built-in 3D, as well as the colossal storage, make it good value buy, in spite of the high price.

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Medion Erazer X6815

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 Medion Erazer X6815

Medion’s Erazer X6815 is a powerful and impressive all-round laptop with more than enough punch for your pound, thanks to the inclusion of Intel’s sophisticated second-generation Core i7 processor.

Gamers are the intended audience, which is obvious from the included GeForce GT 555M graphics card. Despite the powerful components, Medion has kept the price down to £699, and at this price it’s an absolute steal.

Unfortunately there are some build concessions. For a 15.6-inch laptop, the Erazer is quite the chubbster. At 2.7Kg and with a 37mm chassis, it’s heavy compared to other models of the same size, although it’s still compact enough to carry around without breaking your back in the process.

The glossy black design means it looks cool, but is a magnet for our fingerprints and dust. The glossy design stretches over the touchpad too, which sits with a slight indentation beneath the keyboard so your fingers can find it easily.

Sadly, the pad and keyboard have a cheap unreceptive clack and the individual keys are so loose in the chiclet array that we managed to get a couple caught underneath the casing. While typing is easy because the keys are isolated, we don’t hold out much hope for longevity before they break.

Excellent features

Fortunately, everything else is more than up to scratch. Four USB ports line the edges, with two at the super-fast 3.0 speed. VGA and HDMI connections fill out the right side, with nothing around the back and just a Blu-ray drive on the left. You also get a multi-format card reader, fingerprint scanner and a 1.3MP integrated web-cam.

Audio was solid thanks to the Dolby Home Theater v4 HD audio, provided by two speakers and a subwoofer for reproducing the sort of low-end rumble that underpins movie or games soundtracks. It’s not going to set the world on fire and disintegrated into a cacophony with the volume up, but was resolutely serviceable for film and music.

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 169 minutes
Cinebench: 16627
3DMark 2006: 10555

Medion did a great job by adding a Full HD 1080p screen. It was less glossy, hence less vibrant, than most and the viewing angles disappoint. However, for a single laptop user in lower lights it played back HD video well, and it’s hard to complain at this price point.

As well as Intel’s excellent CPU and Nvidia graphics, the Erazer has 4GB of memory and 500GB of storage. With a great set of specifications under the hood, we had no issues with multimedia playback or multi-tasking with several apps open.

Kudos to Medion for compiling such a great array of specs at a low price point. Hardcore gamers looking to play the latest titles on maximum detail should look elsewhere, but for gamers and power-seekers on a budget, this is a genuinely great buy.

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Review: Asus N73SV

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Review: Asus N73SV

Asus has built a great reputation over the years, offering laptops that pack style and power at competitive prices. Few multimedia machines can match the value offered by the N73SV but its flawed usability unfortunately lets the side down early on.

Finished with a brushed aluminium lid and contrasting gunmetal and black interior, the chassis feels suitably well put together and looks every bit the high-end media centre, despite its surprisingly low price.

Sadly, this quality does not extend to the keyboard. While the large keys are responsive and easy to type on, the board is poorly mounted and bounces a great deal during use. The touchpad fares little better, proving sluggish and slow to respond.

A vertical panel of multimedia keys sits to the left of the keyboard, providing a fast way to control your music and movies. The six backlit buttons can be easily seen in the dark, but we found no easy way to disable the backlighting, so they can prove a little distracting at times.

At 3.5kg this is not a laptop for frequent travellers and its bulky dimensions make it far better suited to life at home on your desk. This is reflected in the limited 193-minute battery life, although this still managed to beat the sub-standard results of the other machines.

The most obvious strength of this laptop is its stunning 17.3-inch screen. The exceptionally bright and colourful panel shows images and videos to glorious effect, while the Full HD resolution makes the most of the built-in Blu-ray drive. Even the glossy coating is not overly reflective.

Powerful sound

Sound quality also impresses. Using technology co-developed with audio specialist, Bang & Olufsen ICEpower, the audio from the speakers is loud, clear and detailed. We noticed some slight treble distortion at higher volumes, but bass and mid frequencies were always clear.

Despite using the same dedicated Nvidia graphics card as the, the Asus almost doubles its power. Bettered by only the Acer Aspire 8951G and Toshiba Qosmio X770-107, there is plenty of power for light gaming and running high-definition video – a great result at this low price.

Office performance is no slouch either, despite falling some behind the powerful Intel Core i7 laptops. The Core i5 processor is backed by a healthy 6GB of memory and software opens and runs swiftly, with plenty of power for multi-tasking.

You also get a healthy amount of storage, thanks to the Asus’ 640GB hard drive. While it falls far behind the vast disks of the more expensive Acer and Toshiba, there is still ample room for storing large multimedia collections.

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 193 minutes
Cinebench: 9798
3DMark 2006: 7905

A final unique feature of this laptop is its ExpressGate Cloud operating system. Installed along with Windows 7 it enables you to boot into a basic, panel-based OS in nine seconds, to access your photos, music, a calendar and a web browser faster than you can with Windows. We found the software needless, however, and find it unlikely anyone would use it on a regular basis.

If you can overlook the flawed user interface, the N73SV has a lot to offer at this price. Offering power, Blu-ray compatibility, an excellent screen and surprisingly strong audio, it makes a very good entry-level media centre. If you tend to work more than you play, though, the bouncy keyboard could be a deal breaker.

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Review: MSI GT680

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Review: MSI GT680

The MSI GT680 is exactly what you want from a gaming machine. Raw power, great speakers and a chassis that looks like it began life as an X-Files prop.

The limited battery life and flimsy keyboard mean you won’t want to use this as a work machine but it’s excellent value for gaming.

Beginning with the design, the MSI GT680 continues the gaming laptop trend of aggressive styling, plenty of bulk and blinking LEDs. The black plastic chassis isn’t going for subtlety and the large speaker grilles next to the screen hinges are immediately noticeable. As is the chrome border around the touchpad and the banks of orange LEDs edging the screen and palm rest.

Unfortunately, while the LEDs look cool, they aren’t particularly bright and are easily forgotten when using the laptop in any brightly-lit environment.

The build quality doesn’t extend to the keyboard, which flexes horrendously. It looks nice, and there is plenty of space for typing, but it feels flimsy when working for any length of time.

The 15.6-inch screen is smaller than some of the other gaming and multimedia laptops we’ve seen, but this does mean you can fit the MSI into conventional laptop bags for some mobile gaming. At least, this would be the case if it didn’t weigh 3.5kg and have a battery life of 122 minutes.

The screen has a Super-TFT coating that adds plenty of colour and depth to games and movies. However, it isn’t nearly as bright as some machines we’ve reviewed, such as the Dell Latitude XFR.

The sound, meanwhile, took full advantage of the Dynaudio speakers and filled the room with gunshots, screeching tyres and the anguished cries of wounded henchmen.

Top specifications

Inside the MSI GT680 are some very impressive components. The Sandy Bridge Intel CPU is a top-spec Core i7 2630QM and the 8GB of RAM is twice as much as we’re used to.

Unsurprisingly the dedicated graphic card is one of Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 460M models and capable of running the latest games on their highest detail settings without affecting the frame rate.

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 122 minutes
Cinebench: 17212
3DMark 2006: 13936

MSI has included plenty of connectivity and the GT680 boasts two USB 3.0 ports for faster connections to external drives and peripherals. Elsewhere there are two regular USB ports, HDMI and VGA slots for external monitors, an eSata port and a Gigabit Ethernet connection if you don’t fancy using the 802.11n Wi-Fi to connect to the internet. We’re also pleased to see a Blu-ray drive included as standard.

In most cases, we can recommend gaming laptops because their superior spec means they are suited to almost any task. Not in this case. If you’re a gamer, we’d suggest the MSI because of the way it looks and the excellent performance from that Intel Core i7 processor. If you’re not a gamer the irritating keyboard and mediocre battery life all count against the MSI as an all-rounder.

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Review: Lenovo G770

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Review: Lenovo G770

The Lenovo G770 packs fantastic power and good graphical performance into a solid big-screen laptop which is great for the home. We’d recommend it to anyone looking for a desktop replacement, but movie buffs will be disappointed about the lack of a 1080p screen.

The first thing that strikes you when opening the G770 is the fantastic build quality. There’s an expanse of brushed metal, in which sits a generous isolation-style keyboard with well-cushioned keys. It took us a while to get used to the travel between the keys, but it was comfortable to use for long periods.

Under the hood is a generous amount of power, and enough for anyone who’s looking for a few years of good use. The processor is a Sandy Bridge Intel Core i7 2620M 2.7GHz, which is the same found in the MacBook Pro, which costs £1000 more.

Elsewhere, the AMD Radeon HD 6650M is nearly identical to the MacBook Pro, and there’s more RAM with 6GB packed in. This simply shows that the Lenovo is able to handle anything that’s thrown at it for a few years to come. Editing photos using Photoshop, creating home videos, and dealing with demanding video content are all easily within the G770s capabilities.

If you’re looking to play games, the G770 won’t disappoint either. It’s no true gaming machine, like the Alienware M18x, but it will play most of the latest games. We played Battlefield 2 with no real problems, and it looked great on the 17.3-inch screen, although we did have to turn down the graphics to avoid the frame rate dropping.

Powerful processor

In our tests the Lenovo fell short of the dizzying heights of the Acer Aspire 5750G, but still out-performed the more expensive HP Envy 14. There was a strong score from the processor, which trounced the likes of the Dell Inspiron 17r and the Samsung R720.

Again there was no 1080p panel provided, which will disappoint movie buffs looking for the best possible picture, but if you already own an HD display such as a TV, then you can connect the G770 via HDMI. We’ve seen better, sharper screens, but it’s adequate for working and enjoying media and photos.

Lenovo g770

Again, there’s a lack of Blu-ray, but we honestly feel that a future-proof system can do without this as more media moves to the cloud. At 2.9kg, the Lenovo G770 is a true desktop replacement system, and it’s really too large and heavy to consider taking around with you on a daily basis. However, the large screen more than makes up for it and, unlike the HP Envy 14, its weight pays off with a much more comfortable experience.

The Lenovo G770 is a fantastic purchase for anyone looking for a future-proof desktop replacement. It’s packed with power and matches many of its more expensive competitors for speed and performance, without breaking the bank.

TechRadar Labs

Tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 158 minutes
Cinebench: 11524
3DMark 2006: 7667

We’d like to have seen a Full HD screen in a laptop of this type, and if you’re looking for a future-proof media centre for watching movies, then you might want to look at more expensive alternatives like the Dell XPS 15Z.

However, if you just want to ensure you can carry on using your favourite programs and surfing the web for a few years to come, then this machine will certainly offer a great return on your investment.

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Review: Asus Automobili Lamborghini VX7

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Review: Asus Automobili Lamborghini VX7

There was a genuine air of excitement when the Asus Automobili Lamborghini VX7 rolled into the office.

A Lamborghini Gallardo boasts a 552bhp V10 engine and its namesake is running the laptop equivalent – an Intel Core i7-2630QM CPU, Nvidia GeForce GTX 460QM GPU and 8GB of RAM.

The lid is sculpted to resemble the front of a Lamborghini, complete with the famous badge on the front. The base of the laptop protrudes out behind the screen hinge and sports mock Lamborghini rear lights and two gigantic vents.

Although our review unit was black, this laptop is also available in a striking orange finish that we think looks even better. The inside of the laptop is also designed to mimic its four-wheel counterpart with a black and chrome finish – and the power button even reads ‘start engine’.

Asus lamborghini vx7

Better yet, the palmrests either side of the matt-black touchpad are stitched leather, just like the upholstery of a proper super-car.

Not everyone will be a fan of the chunky design and, if you like your laptops slim and svelte, this isn’t the machine for you. The design also means that it’s incredibly heavy at 3.9kg and even if you wanted to carry it round, the dimensions make it hard to fit comfortably into a bag.

Even though you’re consigned to a desk, usability is fantastic. The 15.6-inch Super-TFT screen is bright and it runs at a native pixel resolution of 1920 x 1080, so even the most complex websites and dense pictures are rendered in extremely sharp detail.

Cool running

Aside from looking the part, the two large vents at the rear of the VX7 keep it cool during prolonged gaming sessions and we had no problems with excessive heat during our tests.

If you want to up your usage from pictures and web browsing to editing video and playing games, then the Asus really comes into its own. The Nvidia GeForce GTX 460QM is one of Nvidia’s top GPUs and when we tested Need for Speed: Shift and Tom Clancy’s HAWX, each on the highest detail settings, the VX7 showed no signs of lag.

TechRadar Labs

Tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 119 minutes
Cinebench: 16,760
3DMark 2006: 7653

The VX7 also boasts a Blu-ray drive and dual 750GB hard drives, adding up to well over a terabyte of storage space.

Asus is keen to label the VX7 as a high-performance laptop rather than simply a gamer’s machine, and both the usability and range of features reflect this. The isolation-style keyboard is very comfortable to use and backlit for when you end up working late.

The VX7 also features four USB ports for transferring data and documents, one of which uses USB 3.0 technology for twice the speed. Elsewhere, HDMI and VGA-Out ports let you connect to another monitor for presentations or even an HDTV.

As is always the case with high-performance machines, the battery life suffers badly. The VX7 managed only 119 minutes on battery, giving enough time for one high-definition (HD) movie. This fact, as well as the aforementioned weight and dimensions, means you won’t be taking this away from the mains for any great length of time.

Understandably, cost is a factor and, although it’s not quite the £160,000 needed for a real Lamborghini, the asking price of the VX7 is pretty steep. But if you can afford it, this is a fantastically designed piece of kit that will easily satisfy all your computing needs.

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Review: LiteOn External Blu-ray Disc Combo

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The LiteOn External Blu-ray Disc Combo is an easy way to add Blu-ray playback to your computer. Its slim, stylish design makes it especially useful for small media centre PCs.

Setup was easy – all we had to do was connect the drive to two USB ports (one for data, one for power) and our test computer was ready to read and write Blu-ray discs.

The drive itself is slim and light enough to carry around, and when connected to a laptop with HDMI out, it makes an excellent portable Blu-ray player that can be connected quickly to a HD TV.

The drive comes with Cyberlink PowerDVD software, which allows playback of 3D Blu-rays. It’s a good program with well implemented internet features, turning the LiteOn External Blu-ray Disc Combo into an incredibly versatile device. Its 3D Blu-ray compatibility and the fact that it runs almost completely silently will be big draws for dedicated movie fans.

This drive can also read and write to a huge array of disc formats, including BD-ROM, BD-RE and DVD-RAM, which makes it a great purchase for much more than just home entertainment. When it comes to playing Blu-ray movies, performance is unaffected by the fact that the drive is external, and high definition content looked incredible on our test monitor.

If you’re interested in playing full-screen high definition material – especially in 3D – remember that your computer needs enough graphical power to keep everything running smoothly; underpowered computers will lead to stuttering. A fairly recent machine with a dedicated graphics card will have no problem playing back Blu-rays though.

Another thing that’s worth noting before you buy is that your monitor must be connected to your PC via either DVI or HDMI, because Blu-ray playback isn’t possible over a VGA cable.

Reading and writing Blu-ray discs took slightly longer than with internal drives, but in our eyes the convenience of the external drive makes up for the disparity.

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Review: Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G

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These days we’re seeing a lot more slim and light ultraportable laptops. Rising up against these size zero models is the Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G.

Like the Dell XPS 15z and the Macbook Pro 17 inch, this is all about packing in huge amounts of power, and who cares if it’s on the chunky side. After all, as our mothers told us: it’s not the outside, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

As with the previous Ethos models, the Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G is an entertainment centre that’s designed to sit on your desk at home.

Crushing the scales at 4.2kg, you wouldn’t want to carry this laptop any further than the next room, to avoid popping a couple of vertebrae.

That said, we were impressed at how thin the Ethos is. Sure, 40mm can’t really be described as ‘thin’, when you consider that the Samsung 9000 series measures just a smidgen over 10mm. But considering the girth of this machine, it’s comparatively slender.

We also liked the smart design, which follows the XPS 15z’s mantra of ‘keep it simple’. The dark chassis has a brushed metal finish that spreads everywhere except the palmrests, and it looks as solid as it feels.

We didn’t find any hint of flex no matter how hard we poked and prodded, which is to be expected at this price point.

One of the most interesting new features of the Ethos 8951G is the detachable touchpad. In previous models, the touchpad converted to a media control panel at the press of a button.

This laptop has the same gimmick. One push of the corner gives you fast access to the Clear-Fi application, which is a media hub for enjoying your photos, films and music. Another press brings up the play, skip, pause and volume controls, and a third press returns the touchpad to normal.

On the previous models this was nice, but of limited use as you had to be sat in front of the Ethos to use it. However, the Ethos 8951G lets you remove the entire touchpad by flicking a switch, so you can use it from across the room to control your media.

It’s a smart idea that works well. Even when we positioned ourselves across the other side of the office, the laptop still responded perfectly to the infrared remote.

Of course, it isn’t a perfect solution. You’re limited to the basic pause/play/skip and volume controls, and if you wish to go full-screen or fiddle with other settings, you need to change back to touchpad mode and fiddle around.

While the touchpad works fairly well as a remote, it works rather less well as a touchpad. For some reason, the responsiveness is all over the place, with sensitivity levels dying as you slide your finger towards the edges.

In fact, swiping the right edge did nothing at all. We’d actually recommend using a USB mouse with this laptop, to avoid frustration.

Thankfully the keyboard is typically great for an Acer laptop. As usual, an isolation-style design has been used, with each key poking up through an individual hole cut in the Ethos 8951G’s chassis.

It’s a well laid out board and a great size for touch typing, despite the tiny left Shift key.

The arrow keys are sadly squashed beneath the right Shift key, which seems unnecessary considering the room Acer had to play with. Still, you do get a separate numeric pad, which is useful if you’re a spreadsheet junkie.

Acer aspire ethos 8951g

Since the Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G is a multimedia machine at heart, we were keen to test out the huge 18.4-inch screen by kicking back with a sack of Blu-rays and a vat of popcorn.

That’s right, we said Blu-rays, not crummy old DVDs. Acer has included Sony’s HD technology so you can enjoy films the way they’re meant to be seen, with ultra-crisp visuals.

Of course, you can still play DVDs on the drive, so you don’t need to part with your collection just yet.

The Ethos 8951G’s display features a sharp 1920 x 1080 WUXGA resolution, making it perfect for taking in Full HD 1080p movies and shows.

HD films really do look amazing on this machine. Contrast levels are excellent, blacks actually look black, as opposed to grey, and colours are rich and vibrant.

Viewing angles aren’t too bad either, so you can happily enjoy a movie with your family, spread out on the sofa. You don’t even have to get up thanks to the detachable touchpad/remote control.

A good chunk of space above the keyboard is dedicated to the built-in speakers. Although laptop speakers are usually as powerful as a gnat’s fart, we were expecting great things from the Ethos 8951G. Those expectations were sadly dashed on the rocky plateau of disappointment.

The sound quality is fine, but there’s a serious lack of power. Even on top volume, we were straining to hear over ambient office noise.

This is especially disappointing considering how powerful the Dell XPS 15z’s speakers were. If you want to truly enjoy a movie or some bass-heavy music, you’ll definitely want to attach some USB speakers.

Those with enormous media collections are well catered for by the 1.5TB hard drive, which provides enough space for hundreds of thousands of songs and photos, and hundreds of HD movies.

If you need even more space or simply wish to back up your collection, you can attach an external drive using the eSATA port, or slip a memory card into the multi-card reader.

You also get four USB ports, one of which is USB 3.0, in addition to VGA and HDMI connections for hooking up external monitors or televisions. Acer has even included mini-Firewire, which we rarely see on laptops these days.

Rounding off the features is the almost-obligatory fingerprint scanner, which provides a satisfactory alternative to remembering ridiculously complex passwords.

Acer aspire ethos 8951g

When we saw the specs list for the Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G, we certainly weren’t disappointed. Acer has stuffed in one of Intel’s latest Sandy Bridge processors, the Core i7 2630QM, which runs at 2GHz.

Backed up by a mammoth 8GB of RAM, it was obvious that the Ethos would destroy our benchmarking tests.

And destroy it did. We didn’t think the Dell XPS 15z‘s CineBench score of 11,474 would be beaten any time soon, but the Ethos 8951G topped it with a score of 12,633.

The Intel CPU’s eight cores are perfect for multi-tasking, while software loads up almost instantly. No matter what we were doing, this laptop provided a smooth, fast experience.

Since the Ethos 8951G was built for enjoying media, Acer has included a dedicated nVidia GeForce GT 555M graphics card.

Most modern games that we tried ran fine, although we had to turn down detail levels on more demanding titles. HD films ran smoothly as expected, as well as video editing software.

The dedicated graphics make full use of nVidia’s Optimus technology, powering down when you’re doing basic tasks such as bashing out an email.

In these cases the basic integrated graphics on the motherboard take over, to save power. As a result, the Ethos 8951G’s battery lasts for a full three hours when you aren’t playing games, and even longer if you turn down brightness levels and performance settings.

This was much longer than we expected considering the high specs and huge screen. Okay, so the battery life isn’t really a significant factor considering the size of this machine, but at least you won’t have to drag the charger as well as the laptop when you shift to another room.

Benchmarks

CineBench: 12633

3DMark 06: 9989

Battery Eater: 185 mins

Acer aspire ethos 8951g

Acer’s Ethos range are built for entertainment, and aimed squarely at those who want a smart and powerful portable for enjoying their games and media collection. We’re big fans of previous Ethos models, so gleefully put the Aspire Ethos 8951G through its paces.

We liked

Featuring one of Intel’s most powerful Intel Core i7 mobile processors and a mighty 8GB of memory, the Ethos 8951G is a better performer that ten Ron Jeremys. You’re fully future-proofed and can multi-task to your heart’s content.

You’ll have no trouble running the latest games (although some detail fiddling is required on the most demanding titles), which look fantastic on the bright and vibrant 18.4-inch screen. The Full HD 1080p resolution means both games and Blu-ray films are presented at their best.

And now you can enjoy movies from the comfort of your sofa, thanks to the detachable touchpad which doubles as a remote. It’s a cool gimmick, although not entirely perfect.

Finally, the generous 1.5TB hard drive means you won’t have to constantly remove old films and games to add new ones.

We disliked

As with previous Ethos models, this bad boy is best left at home. The 4.2kg weight will break your back if you attempt to lug it around on a regular basis, and it isn’t the easiest to slip into a bag or rucksack. We were impressed by the three-hour battery life though.

The Ethos 8951G has few flaws, but we were disappointed by the rubbish touchpad. It works fairly well as a remote control, but not so well as a device for moving the mouse cursor around. We’d have also preferred more powerful built-in speakers.

Verdict

As a home entertainment machine, the Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G does almost everything right. Attach a mouse and some decent speakers and you’re set.

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Plextor PX-B120U External USB Blu-ray Reader Announced

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Plextor_PX-B120U

Plextor has released the PX-B120U external USB Blu-ray drive, which plays BD discs at speeds up to 4x.

The travel-friendly PX-B120U is powered via the USB cable so it doesn’t require a separate power source.

Plextor’s drive also supports “multiple media formats including DVD+ /- R, DVD +/-RW, DVD +/- R DL, DVD-RAM and CD-R”.

The BD reader is priced at $99.99.

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