August 31, 2007 By Miriam Jones
With a carbon fiber body and red racing stripe - not to mention the sound of an Indy car zooming by as I hit the laptop's "on" button - the Acer Ferrari 5000 drew its share of attention from my co-workers. The laptop contains 2 GB (1/1) DDR2 667 SDRAM of memory and a 160 GB hard drive. The machine came with Windows XP Professional, but it's Windows Vista-ready. It contains an AMD Turion 64 X2 processor at 2 x 512 KB L2 cache, 2.0 GHz.
The laptop features Acer's OrbiCam, which takes photos and records video at 1.3-megapixel resolution. The machine also came loaded with software that allowed me to create amusing avatars - such as an alien and stick man - that, when calibrated, can follow my moves when I talk or wink. I could also choose from accessories to "wear," like the mustache and crown, which provided animated amusement while I used the laptop. Sadly the accessories can't be used simultaneously, so I couldn't have both the bushy eyebrows and black eyeglasses.
Despite the strength of the carbon fiber casing - which the company says is 23.5 times stronger than magnesium alloy, and eight times stronger and 10 percent stiffer than steel - and a hard disk protected from shock, this Ferrari isn't meant to be a ruggedized computer.
The 15.4-inch WSXGA+ (1680 x 1050) TFT display provides vivid images. The sumptuous soft-touch coating of the palm rest area is a welcome change from the standard plastic of other laptops. The keyboard has a surprising amount of give, but it's quiet and curved for ergonomic comfort. There are four USB ports, a 5-in-1 card reader and a modular slot-loaded Super-Multi drive (DVD+R, DVD-R, DVD-RAM). That's right, slot-loaded, because tray-loading drives are for sissies.
On the downside, the fan emits a lot of sound and heat, much like the Formula One car itself, I suppose. The laptop would make a fine desktop replacement, but just like the real thing, you'd want to take it out for an occasional spin. The unit weighs 6.6 pounds, so it's no fun schlepping it through an airport, but a trip to the local coffeehouse is reasonable.
The laptop also contains Bluetooth, and includes an accompanying Bluetooth mouse and VoIP phone. The mouse was a bit tricky to set up, but once I found the Bluetooth setup wizard, things became much easier. The mouse also carries the distinctive red racing stripe and Ferrari prancing horse. It feels a bit heavy due to the rechargeable batteries, but it also can run via USB cable without batteries. The mouse's performance was a little jumpy, and the cursor overshot its target sometimes.
The Bluetooth VoIP phone was rather simple to set up, although testing it via Skype was rocky with lots of static. The slender phone itself fits into the PC card slot to recharge. The phone flip creates a regular phone configuration or turns all the way out to create a stand for using the phone in speakerphone mode.
If you're seeking a notebook that, according to Acer, "inspires daily computing via a sparkling carbon-fiber strip" and "conveys a sense of luxury and class," then you'll be quite pleased with this notebook. The more I discovered about the Ferrari 5000, the more impressed I was.
Rating: Four out of Five
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