The Acer Aspire Z5610 is a striking machine: its 23in screen is framed by two chrome-effect pillars, and the entire chassis is accented with strips of deep-maroon.
The Acer offers good quality as well as good design. The screen's native resolution of 1920 x 1080 provides plenty of space and allows HD video to be displayed in all its detailed glory, while the bright, accurate colours and even backlight mean it will do justice to movies and games. The optical touchscreen is also responsive and accurate.
The Aspire Z5610 has been kitted out with a powerful specification. The 2.33GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 processor delivered the best benchmark result of the month, an impressive 1.47.
Elsewhere, there's a 1TB hard disk, a hybrid DVB-T and analogue TV tuner, plus 802.11n Wi-Fi. The only thing missing is a Blu-ray drive, which is disappointing given the screen resolution, but understandable as a cost-cutting measure.
Games aren't completely off the agenda either, thanks to ATI's Radeon HD 4570 chip. The Acer scored 44fps in our low-quality Crysis benchmark - on a par with the best this month. The Aspire's media credentials are further underlined by its 5W speakers, which pump out loud, clear sound.
In fact, the Z5610's only real weak point is its software bundle. While the Acer TouchPortal front-end looks great - it mimics a table and is covered with icons that open various applications - it's disappointing in use.
The only extra touchscreen-specific tools encompass photo-sharing and note-taking, and the other links just open Microsoft Surface applications. Compared to Sony's and HP's extensive software suites, it's basic.
This flaw is forgivable, though, when you consider the price. At $1571, the Aspire is far cheaper than many rivals despite offering a specification that includes a TV tuner, a Full HD screen and a quad-core processor. It may not be perfect, but the Acer is a viable alternative and worthy runner-up to the Sony VAIO.