Acer’s tie up with Ferrari has proved very fruitful for the computer company and presumably also for the car company, since they’ve just repeated the exercise with a new pair of style-rich notebooks. The top-end machine, reviewed here, is the Ferrari 5000, and will set you back just under £1,700. It needs more than a couple of red flashes to justify that price tag.
It’s a big machine; think plastic document wallet and add a centimetre all round to get to its footprint on the desk. It’s dressed in a lightweight carbon-fibre case, in glossy black with a thin Ferrari-red stripe on the lid and in flashes down both sides.
Open it up and there’s a swivelling Web-cam along the top edge of the lid and a keyboard laid out in a shallow crescent below – that should make typing easier on your wrists. In front of that is a wide-angle touchpad and mouse buttons, but if you don’t like touchpads, you can use the bundled, Ferrari-liveried, Bluetooth optical mouse instead.
A quick trip around the edges of the machine reveals a letterbox-style DVD rewriter, a PC Card slot and sockets for Ethernet, modem, audio, Firewire and four USB 2 slots. There are also more specialist sockets, like an HDMI for HD video and a multi-format memory card slot. The machine’s equipped with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and infra-red, and bundled with the laptop is a Bluetooth PC Card to enable VoIP calls from any Bluetooth mobile.
The hardware spec is just as impressive. Starting with an AMD Turion 64 X2, a dual-core 64-bit chip running at 2GHz, it adds 2GB of main memory with another 256MB attached to the ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics processor. There’s a 160GB SATA hard drive inside and a hunky Lithium-Ion battery which runs the whole thing for three and a half hours and recharges in two.
Running 3DMark 2006 at a screen resolution of 1,280 x 1,024 returned 2,091, a very respectable score for a notebook, though at this resolution some of the game segment frame-rates dropped below 5fps, which isn’t so good. Although the native resolution of the 15.4-inch screen is an impressively wide 1,680 x 1,050 pixels, it may be as well to play resource-intensive games at 1,024 x 768.
The only other negative is a distinct swish from the cooling fans, even when the machine is lying idle. Probably not enough to get you ejected from a library, but audible in a home office and even in quiet scenes in movies.
Talking of sounds, the small, twin speaker apertures in the front edge of the machine do a surprisingly good job of reproducing music and soundtracks. While there’s little bass to speak of, middle and treble frequencies are comparatively clear and precise.
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