Acer, the official supplier to the Scuderia Ferrari F1 racing team, has launched its new Ferrari 4000 notebook series bearing the famous prancing horse logo and packing in some interesting new technologies.
The racy new notebooks are available in "midnight'" black or "glossy" red and include a custom designed lid/cover made of carbon fibre, the same material used in F1 car bodies. Ferrari tie-in aside, Acer says it chose the carbon fibre material because it's eight times stiffer than steel and half the weight of aluminium.
PC World's Ferrari 4005WLMi test model is also the first notebook we've seen to ship equipped with AMD's new ML class Turion 64 Mobile processor - essentially a 64-bit Athlon processor modified to consume less power and work well with notebooks to compete with Intel's Pentium M line-up.
The 4005WLMi uses the same sleek folio design as Acer's TravelMate 8000 series and has an extra-bright, high-resolution (1680x1050 pixel), 15.4in widescreen display. However, one addition that we liked: a rubbery soft-touch coating around the keyboard for greater comfort.
The 4005WLMi also includes an array of other high-end components. These include a 128MB ATI Radeon X700 graphics controller, 100GB of hard disk storage, 1GB of DDR2 memory (of a maximum 2GB) and a slot-loading dual-layer DVD writer.
For networking, integrated Gigabit Ethernet and 56Kbps modem connections are included, as are options providing Bluetooth and 802.11b/g wireless networking using Acer's SignalUp reliability technology. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi switches (that glow blue) are found on the front fascia, along with built-in speakers, a 5-in-1 media card reader and microphone/headphone jacks.
The notebook includes both VGA and DVI connections for external monitors and has an S-Video TV-out port.
Peripherals can be connected using the four USB 2.0 or single 4-pin FireWire ports in addition to the Type II PC Card bay. A $449 ezDock port replicator is optional.
The 4005WLMi and its bundled 8-cell battery stood up well in our worst-case scenario battery tests, lasting 85 minutes. Application benchmark performance was strong (88 in PC WorldBench 5) as was the notebook's graphics grunt (16400 in 3DMark 2001). Right on 3kg, this is a highly mobile performance model.
Acer installs a range of its custom software utilities for recovery, system settings and CD/DVD burning - the most interesting of which is Acer's GridVista tool. This offers an effortless way to line up multiple applications and windows on the widescreen using a customisable overlay grid that can be set up to create four screen areas/tiles. The Ferrari notebooks also ship with a wipe cloth, Ferrari USB/Bluetooth mouse and a one-year return-to-base warranty.
Verdict Acer is really trying to do something different with this notebook and we appreciated the effort. Its boldness isn't for everyone, but if you're in the market for a new power portable, check it out.
Acer Ferrari 4005WLMi Price: $3999 (models start at $2999) Vendor: Acer Phone: 1300 366 567 URL: www.acer.com.au Specifcations: AMD Turion 64 ML-37 (2GHz); ATI Radeon Xpress 200P chipset; 1GB DDR SDRAM; 15.4in widescreen; 128MB ATI Radeon X700 graphics; 100GB hard disk; DVD writer; Gigabit Ethernet; 56Kbps modem; 802.11b/g Wi-Fi; Infrared; 4 x USB 2.0; 1 x FireWire; 1 Type II PC Card slot; 5-in-1 card reader; 3kg.
FEATURES: 9 VALUE: 7 OVERALL: 8