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Acer Ferrari 4000 Notebook

Holiday Buyer's Guide 2005
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The introduction of the Acer Ferrari 4000 in August 2005 continued the tradition that the 3200 model started last year. As the name Ferrari is meant to suggest - and it's been properly licensed from the Italian firm, Scuderia Ferrari, for that very purpose - this is a fast, well-designed notebook with ample power for graphics and applications. The case is large, at 14.3 x 10.5 x 1.4 (36.3 x 26.7 x 3.6 cm), but it's also quite attractive. It does a nice job of combining tough, shock-resistant rubberized surfaces where it counts - corners and edges, and on the dashboard inside - and slick, smooth surfaces where it doesn't - on the top of the clamshell, for example. The actual case composition is of strong, rugged carbon fiber, which should hold up to years of abuse. At 6.7 lbs (3 kg), it's neither a lightweight nor a hulking brute, and even the 1.4 lb (.6 kg) power supply brick doesn't up the total weight much past 8 lbs (3.6 kg).

The Ferarri 4000 is a little more understated than its all-red predecessor, but a good-looking laptop nevertheless.

The Ferrari 4000 comes equipped with an AMD Mobile Turion processor; ours included a 1.8 GHz ML-34, while the 2.0 GHz ML-37 is available as an added-price option. On the graphics side, the unit uses an ATI Mobility Radeon X700, with a 344 MHz GPU and 358 MHz video RAM. The display is a 15.4" Samsung TFT LCD. The unit also includes two 512 MB Hyundai PC2700 (166 MHz) DIMMs, with timings of 2.5-3-3-7. A 100 GB 5,200 RPM Seagate 2.5" drive is standard, which offers a decent amount of storage for a notebook like this one. Rounding out storage is a dual-layer, slot-feed Panasonic DVD±RW optical drive.

The mobile comes complete with ports and connections galore: four USB 2.0, FireWire, microphone and headphone jacks, built in Bluetooth and IR ports, one PC Card slot, wired Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11g wireless networking (using Broadcom chipsets), and a built-in Agere fax/modem. Video outputs include VGA, S-Video, and DVI. It even has a built-in memory card reader that can handle the SD, xD, MS, MC Pro, and MMS form factors. You can disable Bluetooth and WLAN connections on the front through easily accessible push buttons. Any way you look at it, this baby's fully-loaded!

Benchmarks on this system (see our full review of this notebook for the details) show that this system is decent for gaming, and also very well-suited for typical office productivity applications. Both the Turion process and the ATI Mobility Radeon X700 have useful battery-saving capabilities; AMD's PowerNow! energy saving technology in the CPU, and a similar technology called PowerPlay in the GPU. These augur well for overall battery life, especially if the Ferrari isn't run under a constant full load.

At an MSRP of around $2,000, this notebook is a good buy, offering a great combination of power, performance, price and looks. About the only thing it lacks, in fact, is the bevy of software that so many other laptops include: aside from PowerDVD and a few utilities, there's not much here that Microsoft doesn't provide with Windows XP Professional. The most glaring omissions are the lack of anti-virus, anti-spyware, and add-on firewall and security software.

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