ACi – Centurion review

desktop-replacement Centrino laptop
Photo of ACi – Centurion
£1,299 + VAT

Centrino, Centurion… it’s an obvious choice of name, really, and it conjures up images of reliability and dependability, which is probably what ACi intended. And the Centurion doesn’t disappoint, at least as far as the design, build and specification of this mid-sized, 2.6kg laptop are concerned. As we’ve mentioned in previous laptop reviews, Centrino isn’t the name of the processor, but rather the complete platform, a combination of the CPU, the i855 chipset and the 802.11b wireless solution.

So, lets start with the important bits. The Centurion uses a 1.5GHz processor which varies in speed depending on whether the mains power is connected and depending on the amount of work currently being done by the machine. This is coupled to 512MB of DDR memory and a 60GB hard drive, so there are unlikely to be any problems with storage or lack of memory. 1.5GHz doesn’t sound fast by desktop standards, but the Centurion whizzed along quite happily in our tests. There aren’t too many mainstream applications that require much more in the way of processing power, leaving aside some demanding games titles.

Now, to the display. This notebook has a 15-inch LCD panel with a resolution of 1,400 x 1,050 pixels (or SXGA+, as ACi calls it). This means that you can fit a lot on the bright, sharp screen, as long as your eyes can cope with the relatively small pixels. Our near-middle-aged eyes had no problem; your mileage may vary, as they say. The screen is driven by a dedicated graphics processor – no shared architecture here. It’s an ATi Mobility Radeon chipset, so there’s a good chunk of 3D performance for gamers as well as the requisite 2D capabilities for everyone else.

The ACi Centurion has a modular design, which means that the DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo drive in the front panel can be removed and swapped with something else if required. The battery is also removable (expect around 2.5 hours use per charge), as is the hard drive, although wisely there’s a screw securing the latter so that you don’t accidentally remove it. As well as the wireless networking adapter, the laptop also has a modem and standard wired 10/100Mbps adapter in the rear panel, alongside an IEEE1394 FireWire port, a VGA connector, a parallel printer connector and a socket for an S-Video-to-TV cable. There’s also a single PC Card slot with an SD memory card reader/writer underneath, plus three USB ports.

In use, the Centurion is comfortable and fairly ergonomic. The keyboard in particular is nicely made with a light action; it seems to have been designed with touch-typists in mind. There’s the usual track-pad and two buttons, with speakers in the side panels. The laptop isn’t very noisy in operation because the processor is low-power and there’s a chunky heat-sink in there, so the fan doesn’t have to go mad to keep it all cool.

ACi includes copies of Windows XP Pro, Works 7 and various utilities with the Centurion. There’s also a slim carry case in the box.

Company: ACi

Contact: 020 8830 1958


Verdict
This laptop feels well made, tough and durable. The ACi Centurion is not hugely stylish, but not clunky either; the blue LEDs will impress the easily-impressed (such as us). It has all the performance that most people are likely to need, plenty of connectivity, a decent screen and power-saving features that make it properly usable while on the move.