Review : Acer Ferrari 1100 | Mobile88
Wednesday May 21, 2008

Review : Acer Ferrari 1100

By Ke
lly Goh

THE 1100 is the latest Ferrari-themed notebook from Acer and I have to say that it hits all the right gears from a design standpoint. While it eschews the famous scarlet Ferrari colour scheme for a more subdued black finish with gunmetal silver trimmings, there’s no mistaking the iconic prancing horse logo that is displayed firmly in the centre of the lid. 

The Ferrari 1100 is encased in a carbon fibre chassis with a racing check pattern on the lid which is also extended to the touchpad. 

In keeping with its race car theme, the mouse buttons are designed to look like foot pedals and the notebook has sporty ­angular lines and contours, which dare I say makes it one of the best designed automobile-themed ­notebooks around. 

Plenty of muscle 

To its credit, Acer has made sure the 1100 is not only about stamping a Ferrari logo on a snazzy looking laptop. The company has done well to fit the 1100 with some of the best components you can currently find. 

Computing muscle is provided by an AMD Turion 64 X2 dual-core processor running at 2.3GHz. I would have personally prefered an Intel Centrino platform but Acer has no choice here as AMD is a co-­sponsor of the Scuderia Ferrari team. 

The notebook has an adequate 2GB of DDR2 RAM and a roomy 250GB hard disk to store all your multimedia files. As such ­productivity apps like Microsoft Office run smoothly and you can also indulge in a spot of image or video editing without much sweat. 

In case you’re wondering, the 1100 has a Windows Experience Index base score of 3.1. 

Graphics are courtesy of an ATI Radeon X1270 chipset , which ensures that you will be able to run Vista’s Aero interface smoothly. Games are also a possibility but it would be wise to stick to less graphically demanding ones. 

One area where Acer has focused on is audio — the 1100 has two ­stereo speakers and Dolby-certified home theatre sound. While this sounds impressive on paper, I was less than impressed when I popped in a DVD movie. 

Perhaps I was expecting a bit too much from the speakers and the Dolby logo, but I was little ­disappointed with the sound ­quality. For one, the audio was a little on the soft side even at ­maximum volume. 

I also felt that the virtual surround sound was little more than a gimmick as there was only a hint positional audio during action movies, if at all. 

The speakers are also placed at rather odd locations — two are at the edge of the palm rests while the other two are at the front of the notebook. This means the best way to watch a movie is to have the notebook placed at almost eye level to ensure that the sound is not obstructed. 

Also if you are working on a ­document while listening to music, chances are your palms will be ­blocking the speakers at the edge of the palm rests. It would definitely have been better if the speakers were placed at the top of the keyboard just below the screen, IMHO. 

One bright spot, however, is the screen, which comes with Acer’s CrystalBrite LCD technology. It’s a real boon for movies and it has rather decent viewing angles. Colours are vibrant and bright and text is also crisp. 

Comfort level 

As with any ultraportable ­notebook, you have to make do with a small keyboard on the 1100. This is one of the prices you have to pay for mobility, which isn’t so bad if the keyboard comes with good tactile feedback and travel. 

This is not the case with the 1100 as the quality of the keys leave much to be desired. They just felt cheap and sluggish and really have no business being on a notebook of this premium positioning. In fact, I found the typing ­experience to be so poor that I ­decided to continue ­working on this review on my desktop machine instead. 

Another reason I decided to continue typing out this review on my desktop PC is because the ­palmrests became uncomfortably hot after a while of using the laptop. 

Based on our informal battery tests, the 1100 can last about three hours with wireless networking on and screen brightness set at normal. 

Finish line 

The Ferrari 1100 is undoubtedly one of the coolest automaker tie-ups we’ve seen in a notebook. Acer has definitely pulled out the stops with its design and has also thrown in some themed accessories such as a Ferrari Bluetooth mouse, microfibre cleaning cloth, VoIP handset and a faux leather case. 

On the technical side, the ­notebook does well to come with an array of solid components such as wireless draft-n networking, ­fingerprint sensor, slot DVD burner and a 250GB hard disk. 

However I just couldn’t help being let down by the sound quality, the uncomfortable keyboard and the amount of heat it produced. 

Still, if you can look past these shortcomings, there’s definitely some appeal in owning a laptop with the legendary prancing horse logo especially if you’re a diehard fan or Ferrari owner. 

Pros: Sporty design; cool ­accessories; solid components. 

Cons: Runs hot; poor sound ­quality; uncomfortable keyboard. 

Ultraportable notebook PC
Processor: AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-66 (2.3GHz)
Memory: 2GB DDR2
Monitor:12.1in LCD with LED backlight (1,280 x 800pixels)
Graphics: Integrated ATI Radeon X1270
Storage: 250GB, slot DVD burner
Operating system: Windows Vista Ultimate edition
Connectivity: 56K modem, Ethernet LAN, WiFi (802.11a/b/g/draft n), Bluetooth
I/O Ports: Three USB, Firewire, VGA-out, S-Video-out, ExpressCard 54 slot, 5-in-1 card reader, headphone and microphone jacks.
Dimensions (w x d x h: 304 x 228 x 34mm
Weight: 1.95kg
Other features: Dolby Home Theatre, Bluetooth mouse, VoIP handset, fingerprint scanner, built-in webcam
Price: RM5,399
Review unit courtesy of Acer Sales and Services, 1-800-88-1288

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