Acer Ferrari 4000 notebook
Getting Turion right
The keyboard is one of Acer's trademark curved examples. It seems that users either love or hate the curved keyboard - I have always found them very comfortable to type on. However, this particular example did feel slightly more flimsy than usual. That said, the review sample I was supplied had a US keyboard, so this may not be indicative of the UK production units.
Below the keyboard is a touchpad with a widescreen aspect ratio to match the screen. The touchpad it surrounded by a silver bezel, while the left and right selector buttons are also silver. Between the two buttons is a four-way navigation pad. The touchpad worked very well in use although the sensitivity had to be set quite high due to the high resolution of the screen.
There's no doubt that the screen is one of this machine's best assets, both in terms of physical size and desktop real estate. It's about as large as you can get if you want to be able to comfortably carry your notebook around with you regularly, while the 1680 x 1050 resolution gives you enough space to have multiple windows open simultaneously without things getting too crowded. When you consider that a 19in desktop screen only supports a 1280 x 1024 resolution, you can see that you're getting a lot of window space on this machine.
As far as image quality goes, the screen is as good as any 15.4in panel I've seen running at this resolution. The lighting is even across the entire surface of the screen and although the colours aren't as punchy as they would be on a screen with a high-contrast gloss coating, you're unlikely to be disappointed, even if you're watching a movie.
As with any Ferrari, what's going on under the bonnet is just as important as the way it looks on the outside, and Acer definitely hasn't cut any corners. If the last Ferrari notebook was a 360 Modena, this one is definitely an F430 - an improvement in every way, despite the previous model being far from disappointing. OK, so the engine inside this F4000 may not be quite as intoxicating as the 4.3lt V8 in the F430, but the 1.8GHz AMD Turion ML-34 is pretty damn fast.
The first time we looked at a Turion machine - coincidentally also from Acer - we were far from impressed. The performance was lacklustre and the battery life was poor. However, this time around, Acer and AMD seem to have got everything right. The Ferrari 4000 performed brilliantly both in application benchmarks and battery life testing, showing that the Turion is now living up to its promise.
The Turion CPU is backed up by a generous 1GB of RAM, so you'll have no problem running multiple heavy duty apps on this baby. But the great spec doesn't end there. Storage is amply catered for with a 100GB hard disk that's been thoughtfully split into two partitions. There's even a Gigabit Ethernet controller, so you can get lightning fast LAN performance if you've got a suitably equipped switch.