How to remove or replace a laptop keyboard

Removing a keyboard on a laptop is not a simple task. Nearly all components in a laptop require more time or expertise to replace than desktop components, including the keyboard. If you do not have experience disassembling a laptop, we recommend having a computer technician replace the keyboard for you. If you have the experience or insist on doing it yourself, review the information in the sections below for guidance.

Removing a laptop keyboard

Remove screws on bottom of laptop

The first step is to remove some screws on the bottom of the laptop. Some laptops display a small keyboard icon next to the screws that you need to remove. Other laptops don’t have the keyboard icon, so you need to look closely to find the appropriate screws. The screws on most laptops are recessed in the bottom of the casing and are circular holes. However, some laptops have rubber pieces that cover the screws. If you have that type of laptop, you need to remove the rubber pieces to access them.

Once you find the screws, remove them and set them aside in a safe place so you don’t lose them.

Remove keyboard or top part of laptop casing

With the screws removed, turn the laptop over and open the lid to see the keyboard. Depending on your brand and model, you can remove the keyboard directly, or you may need to remove the top casing around the keyboard before proceeding.

First, try lifting the keyboard. You may need a small, flat-head screwdriver to raise the edges. If you cannot access the edges of the keyboard because the casing prevents it, you need to remove the casing (as we mentioned above). If you can lift the keyboard out, skip to the section about disconnecting the laptop cable.

To remove the keyboard casing, start around the laptop edge and find a seam between the casing around the keyboard and the bottom casing. Carefully lift on the top section to pop it loose from the laptop. Be gentle to avoid cracking the casing, while still applying enough force to lift and remove it. Also, be aware of any plastic tabs used to secure the case so that you don’t damage them.

The exact method needed to remove the casing differs by laptop brand and model, so check your owner’s manual for specific steps.

Remove keyboard screws and keyboard

With the laptop casing around the keyboard removed, locate any screws that secure the keyboard in place from the top. Although there may be more, in most cases, there are three to five screws, if any. If you don’t find any screws, skip to the next section.

Remove the keyboard screws and set them aside in a safe place, so you don’t lose them. Then, lift the keyboard up from the rest of the laptop.

Disconnect keyboard cable

With the keyboard lifted up, you need to disconnect the cable that connects the keyboard to the motherboard. Use caution; carefully disconnect the cable from the motherboard by pulling gently.

Install new laptop keyboard

Connect keyboard cable

First, connect the keyboard’s cable to the motherboard by carefully inserting the cable into the connector. Apply mild pressure until it is secured in place.

Place keyboard in the laptop case

After connecting the keyboard ribbon cable, insert the keyboard into the case. The most common method requires you to insert the top or bottom edge of the keyboard first. The edge may snap into place or line up with metal tabs that help secure the keyboard. Then, insert and snap the other edge of the keyboard in place or line up the metal tabs.

Add screws to secure the keyboard

If you removed screws that secured the keyboard in place, screw them back into the keyboard. Otherwise, skip to the next section.

Attach top casing around the keyboard

If you removed the casing around the keyboard, carefully reattach it, snapping into place where applicable. Use gentle pressure to attach the casing to avoid cracking or breaking it.

Add screws to bottom of laptop

Lastly, put the screws back in the bottom of the laptop casing. Make sure the same number of screws are put back in place as were originally removed. Do not over-tighten the screws.

Microsoft Arc Keyboard review

The Microsoft Arc Keyboard is an elegant desktop PC keyboard with unique features and a high price to match.

The Microsoft Arc’s name comes from its curved chassis, which bulges upwards in the middle and slopes gently forward. This design makes the Arc pleasant and comfortable to use, as well as giving it an elegant, eye-catching look.

The typing action is one of the best we’ve tried. The keys have a light, finger-friendly texture and matt finish (the body surrounding them is a smudge-prone gloss black, while the rear of the keyboard is white) and click quietly in use. The minimal noise and reassuring feel makes typing on the Microsoft Arc Keyboard almost soothing.

One unusual element of the Microsoft Arc’s key layout is the directional arrows: the usual four arrow keys have been combined into a single concave-surfaced square button that can tilt in four directions, a little like the D-pads used on games console controllers. This takes some getting used to, but we think it’s a nice bit of lateral design.

This move – along with some other layout-pruning decisions, such as removing the right Ctrl and putting Page Up and Down keys upstairs, doubling up the F keys (F7 upwards require the use of the Function key) and bringing Del into the top row – helps Microsoft to keep the keys big and well spaced while maintaining the keyboard’s portable dimensions.

The Microsoft Arc Keyboard uses a 2.4GHz wireless setup, based on a tiny USB transceiver that, in another charmingly helpful piece of design, slots magnetically into the back of the keyboard when not in use.

The wireless signal appears to be powerful and reliable – Microsoft doesn’t specify a range, but it was going strong with the Microsoft Arc a good 10m away from our test system.

Apple Wireless Keyboard review

The Apple Wireless Keyboard is slim, sleek and very light, but it won’t be to everyone’s taste.

The Apple Wireless Keyboard’s slim, compact design is good for use at home – for example, we use ours with a Apple Mac minithat’s plugged into a flat-screen TV and used as a media centre in the living room.

The Apple Wireless Keyboard also has a set of function keys that enable you to control Apple iTunes and other features such as Dashboard and Exposé on your Mac. Its Bluetooth wireless technology enables you to use it with other devices that have Bluetooth – such as the Apple iPad – so it’ll be handy for quickly tapping out quick notes and emails on an iPad at home.

Sena Keyboard Folio iPad case review

The physical beauty of the Apple iPad is its slick touchscreen interface married to an ultra-portable smart design. You can pass it round a group of people and it orients itself as the user sees fit – the view isn’t determined by the position of a laptop keyboard.

That there’s no bulky keyboard is both a joy and annoyance to heavy iPad users. When typing out long text documents the onscreen touch, virtual keyboard can be a pain, especially if you’re a proper ‘touch typist’.

Sena’s Keyboard Folio is a neat solution for those iPad users who love the touchscreen but sometimes want it to act more like a laptop.

The Sena Keyboard Folio turns the iPad into a netbook. It’s a luxury leather iPad case with built-in (removable) silicon Bluetooth keyboard.

Unless you’re a absolute pro on the iPad’s virtual keyboard the real keyboard is guaranteed to speed up your typing. It’s also more ergonomic, with the case boasting a collapsible back stand that mimics the setup of a traditional laptop. As well as the usual letter and number keys the keyboard includes handy Play/Pause, Forward/Rewind, mute and violume keys – and even a Command key with Apple’s little Command Key logo.

Sena Keyboard Folio iPad Case keyboard

Each time you turn on the keyboard (it has an On/Off switch to help save power) you need to type in a unique passcode to connect it via Bluetooth with the iPad.

You charge the keyboard via its Mini USB port – a Mini USB cable is included. Sena claims the keyboard will provide around 45 hours of use, or 55 hours of standby time.

Of course, Apple offers its own solutions. The £57 Apple Wireless Keyboard is a better keyboard than the one in the Keyboard Folio but you still have to store and carry that around in a separate case, as it’s not integrated.

The Sena case not only incorporates the keyboard, with a stand for ergonomic use, but protects both it and the iPad itself in one integrated package.

For £56 Apple also offers its iPad Keyboard Dock, which does give the user a more comfortable typing experience but again demands a separate carrying case or bag. It also orients the iPad in portrait mode only, which is less laptop like.

Sena Keyboard Folio iPad Case keyboard stand

And the Keyboard Folio is not any old iPad case. It’s based on Sena’s luxury Folio case, crafted from premium Napa leather that provides a soft layer to gently protect your iPad. Its designer looks are super-smart, and it features three credit card or business card slots.

The laptop-like back stand is complemented by the Folio’s standard landscape rest for watching videos or restful use.

The silicon keyboard is ultra lightweight so you don’t notice any great increase on a usual iPad case, although it is a touch bulkier.

The Sena Keyboard Folio iPad Case is available in black, red, tan and brown leathers.

Sena Keyboard Folio iPad Case red

There are currently no price comparisons for this product.

Keyboard Pro review

It’s never too late to learn to touch type, and Keyboard Pro offers an affordable and professional online course that makes it easier than ever

How quick is your typing? Some people hunt and peck with two fingers, others get up a fair speed with several active fingers, but still with eyes downcast to the keyboard.

Touch typing, once the preserve of stenographers and trained secretaries, is a skill to enable fast and accurate typing, and a skill that’s now more useful than ever in our PC-centric lives. But looking around the typical modern office, few people, it seems, have this oh-so practical ability at their, ah, fingertips…

Touch typing is about more than just speed, of course. It gives you the freedom to keep your eyes on the screen without making silly mistakes. There are even security implications; with your eyes spending more time on-screen, you’re more likely to notice out-of-place URLs in online phishing rackets, for instance.

If you’ve ever found yourself composing half an email in capitals because you inadvertently hit the caps lock key, read on.

Type like a pro

Many PC-based typing courses are made for students or children, with an overall style or graphical interface to match. Keyboard Pro from UK-based firm Future Learning Solutions is aimed at professionals who want to acquire the skill in a more suitable, but still accessible, manner.

Keyboard Pro is a cross-platform online service, based on Flash within a web browser, and priced at £34.95 for a single-user license. All the lesssons are hosted online, so you will need internet access whenever you start each lesson.

FLS claims you can learn professional typing skills in only 6 hours, although users may find the course best tackled in small lessons over a week or more rather than one intensive day. Spend one hour per day on Keyboard Pro, and you should complete inside one week.

When it first launched last year, the Keyboard Pro subscription allowed you to access the online course for 28 days – but this has now been usefully extended to 90 days, to accomodate the inevitable interruptions of modern life.

Read Reference & Education reviews at PC Advisor

To get started you simply log onto the Keyboard Pro site, where you start with a video introduction to the course, along with lessons in good posture and relaxation, before starting the training, finger by finger, key by key.

Each lesson is introduced by a pre-recorded but amenable female tutor who appears in a small window below the on-screen virtual keyboard.

As you progrees, she will frequently entreat you to not look down at the keyboard, as well as offer canned soundbites of congratulations at your progress, or encouraging reminders that you’ve almost finished the current lesson.

You can pause or interrupt a lesson at any point, with your latest position logged and ready to return to later.

Eight key stages are unlocked as you pass each level, starting with the first position ‘ASDF’ and ‘JKL;’ characters, all the way up to the number line. Punctuation marks and the most common special characters such as ‘@’, round brackets and the question mark are also covered. The only everyday keys you’ll have to learn yourself are Backspace, Return and Tab.

You must complete each of these eight sub-stages before you can progress to the next. To recap any lesson, you can return to an earlier stage whenever required.

Once you’ve learned the finger positions for unsighted, if slow, touch typing, it’s time to gradually speed up. The second half of the course aims to get you up to 30 accurate words per minute. Expect to get reaquinted with the works of Aesop from this stage!

And after that, it’s a matter of personal practice in normal daily typing, with speeds of 60 words per minute or more possible with familiarity.

Our only speed bump was an issue with subtly varying key layouts on different computer platforms. But this minor trouble of reversed ‘@’ and double-quote symbols is to be resolved in a version 3 update soon, which will ask the student before they start if they’re typing on a Mac or Windows PC. And there’s nothing in the current offering to impede any user once you recognise the variation.

We found the course very well designed and neatly laid out – suitably professional in its presentation in fact for corporate as well as private use. Its pacing was good, since it went at ‘our’ pace, which sometimes entailed a few days absence between classes. And all users who complete the course and a final speed exam are awarded a personalised diploma to print out.

Ultimately it was inspiring enough to teach this student the invaluable skill of touch typing. And hopefully saving us that chore of ever backspacing lines of capitalised text again.

Acer Aspire TimelineX 5830TG laptop

The Acer Aspire TimelineX AS5830TG-2413G64Mnbb was released in India when Acer unveiled its redesigned TimelineX series of laptops – the series starts from a price of Rs. 32,999.  This Acer laptop sports a very elegant almost futuristic design – I half expected it to transform into a robot at some point of time and just walk off. Lets check whether this laptop walks off with any prizes once we are done with our testing.

The Acer Aspire TimelineX AS5830TG has a sleek design and its edges have an angular look to them – the hinges alone have a cylindrical design. Its body comes in an eye-pleasing, contrasting mix of three colours: blue, silver and black. Except the glossy black bezel and the glossy screen, the rest of the TimelineX unit has a matte finish.  While the glossy bezel does attract a lot of fingerprints and smudges, the black glossy appearance of the bezel – especially when contrasted with the lighter silver and blue matte colours – enhances the visual appeal of the laptop. The matte surface, understandably, doesn’t attract fingerprints or smudges, but you should be careful of net getting oily smudges on its surface. The chassis has an aluminium-plastic finish – the palmrest has a plastic finish while the area surrounding the acer laptop keyboard has an aluminium finish – and the backlid has a plastic finish.

Unlike in other Acer laptop models, like the Acer 5755G ,the screen hinges of the 5830TG  are located at either ends, at the rear of the chassis. The back-lit power button is located at the top left corner of the main chassis body.  Along the same horizontal as the power button, you will find Acer ‘P’ (“programmable key) button, next to which lies the num lock and caps lock indicators.

This TimelineX laptop weighs slightly under 2.5 kg – which is pretty much the norm with laptops sporting a 15.6-inch screen.  I have to say that the overall build quality of the TimelineX unit was good –  however it has to be pointed out that the edge of the acer laptop keyboard area, right above the optical drive opening, did seem to depress a tad bit too easily for our general comfort. The inbuilt speaker of the 5830TG forms a single continuous slab that is located along the same horizontal line, and is positioned between the power button and Acer’s “programmable key”.  There is a 1.3MP webcam located along the top central section of the screen bezel.

The Acer 5830TG has a non removable battery. The battery section at the rear base of the chassis slightly sticks out, giving the TimelineX laptop an elevated design.

This Acer laptop has a number of other handy features. One such feature is the “Battery indicator” button, located at the front of the laptop, that displays, through various colours, how much of the battery’s charge is left, and whether if its charging or not. When the laptop is powered on, if this button shines blue, signifies that it is connected to a power supply – similarly when connected to a power source, it will shine Amber when the unit is charging. When not connected to a power source, this button will shine Blue, for when there is more than 30% of the charge remaining; Amber when the charge lies between 10-30%; and finally red, when less than 10% of the charge remains. You can check on the battery levels, even when the laptop is switched of, by pressing on this button and it’s light will shine in the appropriate colour  - gone are the days when you had to switch on your laptop just to know how much of the battery life remains.

The USB 3.0 port doubles up as a charging port for USB-charged devices. What this translates to is that, if you have a device that gets charged through a USB port, say a smartphone, by connecting this device to the USB 3.0 port, you can charge your device. The device can also be charged even when the laptop is switched of –  and depending on the battery levels, the connected device will be accordingly charged.

The Aspire 5830TG features a 15.6-inch glossy screen with a native resolution of 1366×768. While the display is sufficiently bright, the viewing angles on this screen are decent – as it is with a good number of other mainstream laptops, there is a colour darkening that that is observed when looking from the vertical (top and bottom) and horizontal (left and right) viewing angles. The screen can be tilted backwards to almost 140 degrees, and this will be helpful, to an extent, in letting you find a suitable viewing position. Alternatively, courtesy of the HDMI port, you also have the option of connecting the laptop to an external monitor/TV to get a better visual experience.

acer laptop keyboard Usability
Acer has really done a good job with the TimelineX 5830TG’s keyboard and touchpad, and it would be great if this was carried forward to other models as well.

The Acer TimelineX laptop has a full sized chiclet keyboard, with a dedicated numpad, with flat-surfaced keys that are well spaced. Typing on this keyboard was very comfortable and had a very good tactile feedback – the feel of the acer laptop keyboard was at the ideal level, neither too soft nor too hard. This is not a downside to the keyboard, but in my opinion Acer could have had larger arrow keys on this TimelineX unit. Typing on this laptop for lengthy periods of time should be a comfortable experience.

In a design choice that was seen in another Acer laptop, the 5755G, the TimelineX 5830TG  keyboard’s enter key almost connects entirely with the backward slash key that is placed right above it.

Moreover, the matte palmrest is slightly elevated, relative to the acer laptop keyboard area, and this does lend itself to making the typing experience even more comfortable.

The touchpad features multi-gesture support and is very responsive – allowing for accurate and fast responses to the associated touch. The two mouse buttons are also very responsive and just the ideal level of pressure has to be applied to them for their action to be recognized by the system.

In terms of inner hardware, the Acer Aspire TimelineX 5830TG doesn’t disappoint, at all. This laptop features an Intel second generation Sandy Bridge Intel Core i5-2410M processor (2.30 GHz), 3GB DDR3 RAM, a 640GB hard drive and for graphics processing, you have the Intel HD3000 and GeForce GT 540M graphics card with 1GB of VRAM. The system can alternatively switch between using these two graphics options, via NVIDIA’s Optimus graphics technology, depending on the graphical intensity of the particular task.

The 5830TG has a unique placement of ports, with most of them located towards the front of the chassis. The laptop’s left side has a Kensington lock, a comparatively large exhaust vent, a Gigabit Ethernet port, VGA port, HDMI connector, a USB 3.0 port which also doubles up as a USB charger, a microphone jack and a headphone/speaker jack. On the right side of the laptop’s chassis you will find three USB 2.0- ports, an optical drive and the power connector. The laptop also features Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth 3.0 wireless connectivity.

More details can be seen on this review’s “Sepcifications” page.

The 5830TG comes pre-installed with 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium Edition (Service Pack 1). As far as pre-installed software on this laptop is concerned, you will find the generic Acer software such as Acer eRecovery management, Acer Identity card- which provides details about your laptop such as its product name, serial number, part number and other related information pertaining to your laptop, Acer Crystal Eye Webcam, Acer updater – as the name suggests it will update your system when run, Acer Game Zone, and Acer Video Conference Manager -  a tool for enhancing video quality when using Windows live Messenger/Skype.

Also included in the pre-installed software set are Microsoft’s Office 2010 Starter Edition,  McAfee Internet Security Suite trial edition, Norton Online Backup trial edition, Intel Turbo Boost Technology monitor, newsXpresso, NTI Media Maker 9, and Skype.

The Acer Aspire TimelineX 5830TG laptop recorded a score of 113 on the Worldbench 6 benchmark – for comparisons sake, The Acer Aspire 5755G notched up a score of 112 on the same benchmark. Getting through most processor and memory intensive processes, let alone your daily home and office productivity chores, should be a comfortable task for this laptop, During synthetic testing, the laptop’s hard disk recorded an average read speed of 73.0 MB/s and the laptop recorded a PC Mark Vantage score of 6750.

When benchmarking FarCry 2 at 1366×768, DirectX 10 mode, AA 2x, and ‘Ultra High’ settings, the average frame rate recorded stood at 36.26 FPS. Similarly, Metro 2033 run at 1366×768, DirectX 11, Very High Quality, AAA, AF 4X, and all settings maxed out registered 9.33 FPS. While these scores are sufficiently good, I’d still suggest playing contemporary games, at a low-to-medium resolution and graphics effects to obtain a worthwhile playable experience.

The Acer TimelineX Playing will play 720p and 1080p videos without any hassle.

The TimelineX’s speaker output levels, with Dolby Home Theatre 4 technology activated, are appropriately loud and clear for a mid-sized room. More importantly, this was one of the better, I dare say even the best, sound production that I  have heard from all the laptops that I have reviewed. Do keep in mind that, as with most other laptops, the bass is still rather restricted – however this is compensated for, as enabling Dolby Home Theatre option adds a level of wholeness to the sound that makes the hearing experience a very comfortable one. Of course you could always go the route of enjoying your audio experience through a headphone.

During testing, the Aspire TimelineX 5830TG did tend to heat up – you notice this when touching the base area that is adjacent to the exhaust vent. Given that the base tends to heat up, it is advisable not too use the 5830TG on the lap for an extended period of time. On a more positive note, the laptop was barely audible during operation.

The laptop’s six-cell battery lasted for two hours and five minutes through one of our battery tests, at high performance mode, and having the wireless internet mode enabled. The norm for most of the laptops in this class – based on our tests on other units – would be anywhere between one hour and one and a half hours. Comparatively, this is a good result, and there is some value, at least to an extent, when Acer claims that this laptop delivers a longer battery life. Moreover, you should be able to extract around five plus hours out of the 5830TG’s battery – at a conservative power scheme – for doing lighter everyday work such as browsing the web and listening to music. It has to be pointed out that the battery in this unit is non-removable, which kind of takes the shine away from the 5830TG’s good battery life statistics.

There is a removable cover, located at the front base of the laptop, which can be opened, with some effort, once you’ve removed the single screw that holds it in place. Keeping true to a Acer tradition – which in my opinion should be discontinued – an Acer Warranty label is placed right at one of the top edges of the removable cover. What this means is that, if you do want to upgrade the hardware and memory modules, you can only do so once you’re remove the cover, and thereby also the Acer label, which will in turn void any warranty that Acer provides.

Bottom Line

The Acer Aspire TimelineX 5830TG is a laptop that has been able to provide a good performance as well a good battery life without compromising on anything in between. This laptop would be a good fit for students, and even some professionals, and anyone else who wants their laptop to pack enough of a performance punch, but at the same time have the laptop last for a long enough time for that punch to count. While Acer could have done with a better screen, say a full HD screen with better viewing angles, this laptop’s features are attractive enough to warrant us to suggest this as a very suitable candidate for multimedia users in the market looking for a machine that delivers a performance that more than justifies its asking price.

Acer Aspire 5755G laptop keyboard

The recently released Acer Aspire 5755G (model 2414G75Mnks) multimedia laptop sports a new look and features a good hardware configuration. This laptop‘s features, such as the 2GB graphics card, the Sandy Bridge processor, the USB 3.0 port, and the 750 GB hard disk, do look good on paper.  So let’s see how it fares on the whole.

The 5755G features a black back-lid with the Acer logo displayed on the middle section. The lid has a pattern of wave like lines going across the black background. The back-lid does attract a lot of finger impressions and smudges, and the same holds true for the palm rest, although to a much lesser extent.

The laptop features a full sized acer laptop keyboard with the multi-gesture touchpad located below the keyboard, positioned towards the left end.  A dark bezel borders the 15.6-inch LED backlit screen and the palm rest has a grey finish bordered by black strips on either sides.  The Acer 5755G does weigh 2.6-kg with a six-cell battery, but it has a comparatively slender form. The laptop has a two hinge design of the sort seen in earlier Acer models.

Acer has named this series as part of their “Gorgeous by Nature” line. So other color schemes are offered, namely Amazon Green, Pacific Blue, Desert Brown, Sunset Red and Monsoon Black. The colour schemes available for a model will vary according to the configuration though. For instance, the particular review model we received only comes in black.

The laptop features chiclet type keys, which is a departure from the raised flat acer laptop keyboard style adopted on earlier Acer models. While both sets of keys are comfortable to type on, the chiclet configuration of this laptop makes cleaning the keyboard easier. With the previous keyboard style, users, myself included, who like to munch in front of the laptop while viewing a movie or reading a web page had to be worried about crumbs falling into the acer laptop keyboard and getting trapped there. Users will be glad to hear that this is not an issue anymore, with the new keyboard.

The 5755G provides a not particularly bright 15.6-inch glossy screen that supports a maximum screen resolution of 1366×768 pixels. The viewing angles are decent enough – but given that the screen tilts back to almost 70-80 degrees, finding a suitable viewing angle should not be too much of a hassle. Otherwise, the screen is good for both reading text and viewing images/videos. While the laptop does look good, its build quality is fair – standard stuff when considering mainstream laptops. It’s not like you will be splitting hairs over this, but I noticed that the section above the speakers, positioned parallel to the F9 and nearby keys, seems to sink in when pressed. This might however have been only specific to the particular review model we received.

The power button is located at the top right of the acer laptop keyboard, on top of the speakers, which is aligned across almost the entire horizontal length of the chassis. There’s a 1.3-megapixel (MP) webcam placed at the top of the laptop’s screen bezel.

acer laptop keyboard Usability
The keyboard’s multi-gesture touchpad was generally very responsive, although at times it confused certain gestures – quite often when pinching to zoom out, the gesture was interpreted as a rotate command. I guess that might take some getting used to. Located on the right side of the touch pad is a vertical line that allows for single-finger scrolling, as well as zoom in/out functions).  Also the single strip mouse button works well.

The enter key has a unique design and seems to connect with the backward slash key, giving the impression that the two keys are a single key.

Under the hood, the Acer Aspire 5755G has an Intel Sandy Bridge Intel Core i5-2410M processor (2.30 GHz), 4GB DDR3 RAM and a 750GB hard drive. The graphics department is taken care of by the on-board Intel HD3000 and GeForce GT 540M graphics card with 2GB of VRAM. NVIDIA‘s Optimus graphics technology allows the Acer 5755G laptop to switch automatically between the discrete and integrated graphics of the CPU, as and when required.

The laptop has two USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port, Gigabit Ethernet port, VGA port, HDMI, headphone and microphone jacks, DVD writer and a multi-card reader. It features Wireless-N and Bluetooth 3.0 wireless connectivity.

More details in table form can be seen on this review’s ”Specifications“ page.

The laptop comes pre-installed with Windows 7 Home Premium (Service Pack 1). The following software is bundled – Acer Crystal Eye webcam, Acer eRecovery Management, Acer Backup Manager, Acer Game Zone Console, and (for easy network sharing between Acer computers). It has 60-day trials of McAfee Internet Security Suite and NTI Media Maker 9, a 30-day trial of Norton Online Backup, and the freeware newsXpresso.

When the laptop was put to test, it came out with flying colours. In most benchmark tests, the Acer 5755G posted better scores than most mainstream laptops we have reviewed. Managing your day to day multitasking needs should be a very comfortable task for the Acer 5755G – coping with multiple processor and memory intensive tasks shouldn’t be a problem.

In the synthetic benchmark WorldBench 6, it scored 112 – one of the highest scores we have recorded on laptops so far. The laptop’s hard disk recorded an average read speed of 82.5 MB/s, and a PC Mark Vantage score of 6762.

The performance difference between the Intel integrated graphics and NVIDIA GT540M discreet graphics in 3DMark06 was large as expected. We saw it score 3290 points for the Intel HD 3000 and 7558 points while running on the NVIDIA GPU. The 2GB RAM of the GeForce GT 540M sounds good, but that does not result in a performance boost by itself, the GPU’s power is the main factor at play.

Playing games at low to medium settings, would make for comparatively smooth sailing for gamers. When I benchmarked FarCry 2 at 1366×768, DirectX 10 mode, AA 2x, and ‘Ultra High’ settings, I saw an average frame rate of 34.27 fps. Similarly, Metro 2033 at 1366×768, DirectX 11, Very High Quality, AAA, AF 4X, and all settings maxed out registered 8.64 fps. And that, dear readers, is why I’d suggest playing games on this laptop, albeit at a lower resolution and graphics effects, to obtain a playable experience.

Watching both 720p and 1080p HD videos is comfortable. Additionally, playing videos on a full-HD TV by connecting through the laptop’s HDMI port, provides for a smooth playback. The sound output from the built in speakers, with the Dolby Advanced audio disabled, is appropriate for a small room. Once the Dolby audio is activated, you will immediately notice the difference in sound quality, as the loudness, clarity and bass of the audio system improves to quite an extent – making it quite suitable for a mid-sized room. Headphones also work just as well.

Through our testing, the Acer Aspire 5755G did a fair job at keeping itself cool, considering that most mainstream laptops with similar configurations tend to heat up more. However, you do notice that the central left section of the laptop heats up slightly. Moreover, the laptop’s fan was barely audible during operation, which is another positive to take from this laptop.

The laptop’s six-cell battery lasted for 1 hour 25 minutes through one of our battery tests, at high performance mode. Having said that, you should be able to extract around 3 hours out of the laptop’s battery for doing lighter every-day work such as browsing the web and listening to music. But again, given the configuration of this laptop and its intended use indoors, battery life shouldn’t be a major concern.

There are two covers at the base of the laptop that can be opened – one at the top-left section and the other at the bottom. In the Acer 5755 series, the slot at the top-left corner is usually for inserting a 3G SIM card. This slot was hollow in our review unit, as Acer has told us this this option is not offered in in India. After opening the back-cover, we found the hard disk at the left side and memory modules at the right hand side. There are two memory slots, of which one is occupied by the 4 GB memory module already provided by Acer. You can upgrade the memory to a total of 8GB by adding another memory module. A note of caution to users who want to upgrade memory modules and/or hard-disks: to unscrew the lower lid, you will have to tear the Acer Warranty label, and this action will void any warranty that Acer provides.

Bottom Line

The Acer laptop has all the features tailor made for a graphics intensive user. The Acer Aspire 5755G more than provides the performance that its configuration potential suggests, despite the ordinary battery life and build quality. If you are looking for a home entertainment laptop, this is definitely one of the good options you have to check out for in the market.

Dell XPS 15z laptop keyboard

Dell‘s XPS range of laptops represents the company’s top of the line products – the z series comes in a slimmer form factor than it’s bulkier cousins. The XPS 15z looks very stylish – reminds one of Apple‘s designs – and comes with a hardware configuration that looks really good on paper – this Dell XPS 15z unit we received is the higher spec’d of the two units available from Dell. So let’s see how this premium product fares through our tests.


The Dell XPS 15z unit has an anodized aluminium casing and sports a silver-grey matte finish with chrome linings bordering the edges of the chassis as well as the touchpad – the colour choice once again reminds me of Apple’s products. The silver colour covers the thin backlid and the laptop’s sides and base, with the grey finish being seen on the top chassis area – a black bezel borders the screen, providing some contrast to the comparatively light colouring of rest of the unit.

The XPS 15z has certain unique design choices, which adds to its distinctive look. The audio grilles have a diagonally patterned design – this design is also used for the exhaust vents that are located at the rear and at the top base area of the laptop. The overall design of the unit is simple and very stylish – although, I did feel that the barrel-like hinge’s appearance seemed to be out of sync with the sleek look of the rest of the laptop.

The power button is centrally located above the dell laptop keyboard, towards the top of the chassis, and centrally placed below the hinge – Dell sticks to a minimalist design with no other ‘fancy’ alternate-functionality keys located on the main chassis body other than the power button and the dell laptop keyboard keys. The rear of the laptop chassis is all so slightly raised – the screen is not located at the very edge of the laptop, but is placed just in front of the rear edge. The screen hinges are positioned in an area that is slightly depressed in relation to its surroundings.

The XPS 15z’s edges and corners are well rounded and smooth-edged and the unit weighs in at 2.5 kg. In terms of build quality, the laptop has a solid construction.

There is a 1.3MP webcam located at the top central section of the screen bezel. The 15z’s speakers are located at the top of the laptop chassis, positioned to the left and right of the dell laptop keyboard. There is a button located at the left side of the laptop that, when pressed, indicates the level of the battery charge by accordingly lighting up five LED lights, that are located towards it’s left side – if the battery charge is at 100 % all the lights light up and so on and so forth.

The hinge has vertical lines etched on it, and one these lines lights up when the laptop is connected to the adapter – handy feature letting the user know whether the laptop is running on the battery or on the connected power supply.

The laptop features 4 rubber stands at its base that are circular in shape and flat on their top section, and which consequently don’t cause any discomfort when keeping the laptop on your lap – as opposed to the more protruding stands seen on other laptops

The 15.6-inch glossy Full-HD screen (native resolution of 1920×1080) provides for a bright display – the glossy nature of the screen can be an irritant under certain lighting conditions. The viewing angles are generally good: the horizontal (left and right) viewing angles are comparatively good, with a slight lessening in the picture vibrancy when one moves away from the screen centre; the bottom vertical viewing angle produces a dark shading over the picture when seeing the display from an angle other than a centrally positioned one; the top vertical viewing angle also produces a colour distortion when viewed from a position other than a centrally positioned one. The XPS 15z’s screen can be tilted to almost 130 degrees backward – helping you to a certain extent in choosing the ideal viewing position relative to the screen.

dell laptop keyboard Usability
The Dell XPS 15z uses a backlit chiclet keyboard with curved keys but, unlike other laptops with similar dimensions, lacks a dedicated numpad. Furthermore, Dell doesn’t provide for the associated number keys to be available as an alternate functionality on top of existing alphabetic keys – a design choice that is rather unfortunate. The resultant saved-up space is instead used for accommodating the audio grills at either sides of the keyboard.  The keys are well spaced and have a soft tactile feel – that lends itself to users having a very comfortable typing experience – and are very responsive. While not exactly a drawback per se, I did feel that the arrow buttons could have been bigger.

You can manually turn on and off, and adjust the intensity of the backlighting feature through the keyboard (Fn + F6) – a very handy feature indeed. There is also a dedicated button for ejecting the optical drive as well a button for inputting the Rupee currency symbol (Alt + Ctrl + 5).

The trackpad has a smooth texture and is generally responsive. The mouse buttons replicate the soft touch feel of the keys – just about the right level of softness – and are also responsive.

The Dell XPS 15z features a dual core Intel 2nd generation Core i7-2640M 2.80-GHz processor, 8GB DDR3 RAM, Intel HD graphics and Nvidia GeForce GT 525M 2GB graphics card, and a 750GB (7200 RPM) hard drive.

The 15z might not offer a large number of ports, but it does make up for it by providing for a varied level of functionality within the constraint of the number of ports offered. The laptop’s left side has a HDMI port, Display port, USB/eSATA combo port, 2 USB 3.0 ports, and a multi-card reader. On the right side of the chassis are located the slot-loading optical drive and headphone and microphone jacks. The power connector and Gigabit Ethenet port are located at the rear of the laptop – in my opinion a very handy design choice. The Dell laptop also features Wi-Fi 802.11 n and Bluetooth 3.0 wireless connectivity.

More details can be seen on this review’s ”Specifications“ page.

The Dell XPS 15z comes pre-installed with Windows 7 Home Premium Edition. In terms of the installed software on this laptop, you will find the generic Dell software such as Dell SyncUP, Dell DataSafe Online, Dell Stage and its accompanying components, Dell Support Centre, and Dell Webcam Central.

Also included in the pre-installed software set are the Microsoft Office 2010 Starter Edition, McAfee Internet Security Suite trial edition, FastAccess facial recognition software, Roxio Creator Starter Edition and Skype.

The Dell XPS 15z recorded a score of 137 on the Worldbench 6 benchmark, one of the highest scores we have seen in recent times – the only other unit that came closest to this score was the Dell Vostro 3450. Getting through most processor and memory intensive processes, let alone your daily home and office productivity chores, should be a walk in the park for this laptop. During synthetic testing, the laptop’s hard disk recorded an average read speed of 95.0 MB/s and the laptop recorded a PC Vantage score of 8983.

The laptop uses Nvidia’s Optimus technology which allows the system to switch between using the integrated and discrete graphics options as and when required. As such we ran the 3D Mark 06 test when the system was using only integrated and only discrete graphics – when using only Intel graphics, the system notched up a score of 4502, while using only the GT 525M card, the system scored 7376. Also keep in mind that while you might feel awed at the 2GB of graphics RAM included in this system, that feature by itself doesn’t result in a performance boost.

When benchmarking FarCry 2 at 1366×768, DirectX 10 mode, AA 2x, and ‘Ultra High’ settings, the average frame rate recorded stood at 36.14 FPS. Running games shouldn’t be that tricky a task for this machine – do keep in mind that playing the most recent titles should be done whilst keeping details and resolution slightly pulled to the lower-to-medium spectrum of settings, so as to enjoy an optimum gaming experience. Moreover, do keep in mind that prolonged gaming can heat up the system.

You will have no problems whatsoever watching both 720p and 1080p HD videos. However, Dell could have done a better job with the accompanying audio. Other than having the rather over-sized fancy audio grilles, the audio output is pretty standard – the volume levels are appropriately loud for a small to mid-sized room, and as it to be expected on built in speakers the output lacks bass.  As always, listening through a headphone would be the best option.

The Dell laptop does heat up to quite an extent under prolonged and intense use – you will notice the heat at the base of the laptop, towards the top areas that are close to the exhaust vents. You don’t feel this heat to that extent on the palmrest area – the left side of the palmrest, as with the rest of the base, does get slightly warm to the touch though. On the plus side, if you are doing some regular tasks like browsing or listening to music or editing documents, the 15z does not heat up. Under normal usage, the laptop gave a better account of itself in the system noise levels area – under more intense use, and in an comparatively quiet environment, you can distinctly hear the sound of the workings of the exhaust fans.

The laptop’s eight-cell battery lasted for an hour and seventeen minutes through one of our battery tests, at high performance mode, and having the wireless internet mode enabled. For a laptop having the technical specs as this unit does, this is a standard result- given this result, it’s always advisable to use this laptop in an area where there is a nearby power outlet, so as to have the laptop charged whenever necessary. Having said that, you should be able to extract around 3 odd hours out of the 15z’s battery – at a conservative power scheme – for doing lighter every-day work such as browsing the web and listening to music.

Just as with the previous Dell unit we reviewed, the Inspiron 15R, the entire base of the 15z forms a single cover slot, and this entire cover will have to be taken off to access the laptop’s innards. Consequently, in case you are thinking of upgrading this unit, that task is better left to the folks at Dell, and is not an activity that I would encourage regular users to engage in. This is a poor design choice, and Dell could have really provided for a easier access option in this laptop, especially given its price tag.

Bottom Line

This unit does tend to heat up after prolonged use, with some of the heat making its way onto some sections of the palmrest area – a point to keep in mind for users who plan to use it on their laps in a non air-conditioned environment. Moreover, while I do like the overall design, the option of having excluded a dedicated numpad in favour of oversized audio grills, which at the end of the day don’t really give that great a performance either, was rather ill conceived – I do value form, but only as long as it doesn’t sacrifice on functionality.  Also, Dell doesn’t allow you an easy access to the innards, which given this units price tag, should have been an included feature, and one which would have been much appreciated.

Dell Inspiron M101z: Worth the Price If You Want a Small Machine With a Great Keyboard and Touchpad

The $580 Dell Inspiron M101z is just big enough for me to use comfortably (my gigantic hands are like bear paws); and yet at 11.5 by 8.1 by 1.4 inches, it’s small enough to slip into most bags.

My review unit, accented with a rich blue lid, weighed just 3.4 pounds. The frame felt sturdier than it looked, too, with virtually no flex. The M101z’s hinge positions the 11-inch widescreen a little closer to the user than most laptops do, putting it neatly on top of the body of the machine itself. The interior is a clean gray with a black keypad–easy to look at and not too flashy.

Both the dell laptop keyboard and the touchpad were a pleasure to use, with quiet, comfortably spaced Chiclet-style keys that offered smooth responsiveness. The touchpad is great, too–a single neatly placed pad with two distinct and quiet keys beneath it. I rarely enjoy typing for long on an 11-inch keyboard, but the M101z felt great.

The frame holds three USB jacks, a VGA output, headphone and microphone jacks, an ethernet port, and an SD card reader. Inside the frame are a lightweight 1.3GHz AMD Athlon II Neo K325 dual-core processor, 4GB of RAM, a 320GB hard drive, 802.11n wireless, and integrated Mobility Radeon HD 4225 graphics. The machine is reasonably powerful for the price, but not outstandingly so.

Don’t plan on running games that put a lot of pressure on the graphics chip; if you dial the graphics down, however, you can play games that rely largely on the CPU for their juice. The M101z earned a WorldBench 6 score of 60, and it managed an unplayable frame rate of 13.3 frames per second running our Unreal Tournament 3 at high quality levels and 1024 by 768 resolution. On the other hand, 1080p video played fine, and audio from the speakers was surprisingly robust.

One serious shortcoming of this laptop is its 4.5-hour battery life, which is subpar for such a small machine. The dual-core AMD CPU is no doubt responsible, at least in part; Intel’s ultra-low voltage CPUs tend to be more power-efficient these days.

But battery life aside, I liked the M101z a lot. Decent video playback and enough power to run essential apps without flinching make it useful; and the wonderful dell laptop keyboard and touchpad make it easy to use. Though it could use a little more muscle and a lot more juice, I’d be happy to take it adventuring.

Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820TG laptop

Announced last month, the Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820TG is a 14-inch laptop that packs in an Intel Core i5-430M processor and dedicated ATI Radeon HD 5650 graphics, making it a powerful 14-inch laptop — at least on paper. It also claims to offer eight hours of battery life.

The Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820TG laptop’s exterior looks exactly like the Aspire TimelineX 4820T laptop. It has the same unassuming polished screen lid with brushed metal finish and the inside sports a black Acer keyboard deck with a silver gray touchpad and palmrest strip.

The Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820TG laptop promises a lot of speed and performance given its internal hardware, not to mention gaming as well.

The Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820TG is well built, and although not quite ultraportable, it’s thin and weighs 2.1-kg (with a six-cell battery) and has a form factor that’s easy to carry around compared to other 14-inch laptops — like the Dell Studio 14 Artist Edition and Acer Aspire 4740.


The Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820TG laptop has a 14-inch glossy LED-backlit widescreen display, with a 1366×768 pixel resolution and a 16:9 aspect ratio — ideal for watching high-def HD content. The Aspire TimelieX 4820TG’s screen is bright and sharp with good viewing angles (at best) — nice for watching movies or reading text for extended hours. A 1.3MP webcam and microphone on the Aspire TimelineX 4820TG laptop’s top screen bezel come in handy during Skype videochats.

acer laptop keyboard replacement and touchpad on the Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820TG laptop are exactly the same as on the Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820T laptop. The chiclet-styled keys are well-laid out on the black keyboard deck and are pretty good for typing. The Timeline X 4820TG laptop’s touchpad is nice and wide, offers very good feedback, and is gesture-enabled — something you don’t see on a lot of laptops. The 4820TG’s multi-gesture touchpad executes two-finger scrolling, pinch-to-zoom and rotate functions very well.

Hardware Specs & Features
The Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820TG laptop is available in two configurations. The unit we tested comes with an Intel Core i5-430M 2.26-GHz processor with Intel Turbo Boost (max clock speed of 2.53-GHz under load) and Hyper Threading support. It also has 4GB DDR3 RAM, 500GB (5400rpm) hard drive, Intel GMA HD and ATI Radeon HD 5650 graphics (1GB) — the most potent hardware combination we’ve seen on a mainstream laptop below Rs. 50,000. The laptop supports switchable graphics — Intel GMA HD for maximum battery life and ATI Radeon HD 5650 graphics for maximum performance.

The other Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820TG offering has the exact same specs and features as the Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820T laptop — with ATI Radeon HD 5470 graphics (512MB). If anything, the Aspire TimelineX 4820TG could’ve come with a faster-spinning 7200rpm drive, but this is just nitpicking.

Connectivity options on the Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820TG include four USB 2.0 ports, HDMI and VGA for video, two audio jacks — microphone and headphone/SPDIF — Gigabit Ethernet and a card reader. The Aspire Timeline X 4820TG supports both wireless Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR connectivity. The laptop has a tray-loading 8x DVD writer on its right edge, it’s eject button placed between the acer laptop keyboard and hinge.

The Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820TG laptop comes with 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium operating system, and promises a lot of speed and performance given its internal hardware.

If there’s one thing the Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820TG excels at is its performance. Its WorldBench 6 score over 100 is a sign of a very good, powerful laptop — similarly, a PC Mark Vantage score of 5636, Cinebench score of 7888, and a PC Mark 05 score of 7254 are all very good for a laptop of its class — better even than the Dell Inspiron 14R. Both memory-intensive and processor-intensive tasks will execute smoothly on the Acer Aspire Timeline X 4820TG laptop, and you can multitask with ease.

The Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820TG laptop’s dedicated ATI Radeon HD 5650 graphics is pretty good for gaming — it got a 3D Mark 06 score of 7545. Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 at 1366×768, 4xAA, with everything else maxed out, ran smoothly. Far Cry 2 — Ultra High settings, 4xAA, 1366×768 res — clocked an average of 27.8 fps. Although the laptop heated up a bit, the gaming experience on the Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820TG is certainly a lot better than the ATI Radeon HD 5470 graphics equipped laptops in our Top 5 Mainstream Laptops list. Its heat shouldn’t be a problem if you keep the Aspire TimelineX 4820TG on a desk while gaming.

Watching both 720p and 1080p HD videos on the Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820T laptop went well. The laptop’s 14-inch screen displayed nice cinematic visuals, while the accompanying onboard audio from speakers placed above the acer laptop keyboard was good. For a 14-inch thin laptop, the Acer Aspire Timeline X 4820TG stakes a serious claim for a home entertainment laptop.

Battery Life
Acer claims the Aspire TimelineX 4820TG laptop to last 8 hours on a single battery charge — not since the CULV-based Aspire Timeline 4810T laptop has any mainstream 14-inch laptop gone past that mark. The Intel Core i3-based Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820TG managed just under 7 hours, and it’s no surprise the Intel Core i5-equipped Aspire TimelineX 4820TG laptop doesn’t reach anywhere close to that mark.

On Intel GMA HD graphics mode, the laptop’s battery lasted 1 hour 38 minutes in our synthetic tests — at full-screen brightness and high performance preset. While browsing the Web over Wi-Fi at 50-percent screen brightness and optical drive disabled through Acer PowerSmart tool, the Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820TG laptop lasted 3 hours 48 minutes on a single battery charge. Not even close to Acer’s claim of 8 hours, but still better than any other laptop in our Top 5 Mainstream Laptops list.

Bottom Line

The Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820TG laptop sells for a price of Rs. 48,999 with one year international warranty. It is not only thin compared to other 14-inch laptops — like the Dell Studio 14, Dell Inspiron 14R and MSI CX420 — but packs in quite a punch with its high performance and bundles a graphics processor that allows for a decent gaming experience on a laptop.

The Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820TG also offers pretty good battery life — better than any other laptop in our Top 5 Mainstream Laptops list. But nowhere close to its claimed 8 hours — for that buy the Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820T. If you desire a powerful all-purpose laptop for home, one that is good for gaming, and easy to carry around, the Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820TG is the one to buy.