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Acer Ferrari 1100, One Large Disappointment 189

PC Magazine was finally able to get ahold of an Acer Ferrari 1100 to review, and the results are less than stellar. With complaints about the 12-inch screen that isn't even LED-back-lit, a large clunky design, and underwhelming performance, it seems that the only redeeming feature is the integrated, slot-loading DVD burner. "The Acer Ferrari 1100 would be more attractive if its price ($1,860) wasn't higher than that of the more aesthetically pleasing Apple MacBook Air ($1,799) or the ASUS U6S ($1,699). For those who passed on the first-edition Ferrari ultraportable because it lacked an optical drive, the 1100 now has one built in. But in a world consumed by miniaturization, it will have to shave off a bit of weight and improve its performance scores for it to compete with thoroughbreds like the Sony SZ791N, the Dell XPS M1330, and the Lenovo X61."
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Acer Ferrari 1100, One Large Disappointment

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  • Pffft.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by canUbeleiveIT ( 787307 ) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @05:47PM (#22611782)
    it seems that the only redeeming feature is the integrated, slot-loading DVD burner.

    My cheapie Gateway has that. I'm just sayin'...
  • by jollyreaper ( 513215 ) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @06:04PM (#22611868)

    The Ferrari series is the only one of Acer's laptop lines that favors design over price and performance.
    If I'm dropping $1800 on a laptop, I'm expecting design AND performance at the expense of affordability. For that kind of money, why not get a Mac? Sheesh! A fool and his money are some party.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 01, 2008 @06:24PM (#22612000)
    Agreed, but there will always be a segment of the population willing to pay more for something because it has the name of some rich person on it. Dorks. I'm sure Enzo Ferrari would be proud.....
  • by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @07:02PM (#22612212)
    Seriously who needs a VGA, [...] port on their laptop nowadays?

    Most people?

    Connecting to large screens or projectors is a pretty common use for laptops.

    Sure from a technical standpoint, I'd prefer DVI, with adapters to VGA, but VGA is probably more convenient. Most projectors I encounter are still VGA, as are a lot of budget screens, and the expensive ones at least support VGA too.

    So for an ultra portable do I want the technically better DVI and the hassle of adapters everywhere I go... or just put up with the the lower quality of VGA but at least it works everywehre without carrying additional bits everywhere I go?

    Tough call. I can see the argument for VGA.
  • by TeknoHog ( 164938 ) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @07:21PM (#22612324) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, I can't imagine why anyone would like integrated Intel graphics that have full opensource drivers available in your friendly neighbourhood distro.
  • by mr_matticus ( 928346 ) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @07:52PM (#22612478)
    Yeah, because that's exactly what you want on an ultraportable: a hot, battery-sucking video card so you can game on a 10-13" screen, packed in with a low-clocked, low voltage CPU. An ultraportable is not a desktop replacement. If you need a CAD workstation on the go, you're shopping in the wrong market segment. Who on earth modded this insightful?

    For a group of people supposedly more "in the know" about technology than most, you seem to miss the point at a frightening frequency. Your 4GB, 2.6GHz dual-core CPU laptop with a 300GB hard drive and a 17" screen might be exactly what you want: maximum raw power. It's not what everyone else wants, and it's not what the lower 80% of computer users would ever come close to needing. Some people would rather spend that money on other things: size, aesthetics, convenience, true portability. Ultraportables under an inch thick are slim enough to fit in soft folios that are half the thickness of a laptop bag. Thin has its place. Specs are not king.

    PS- the MacBook is $1100, not $1500, and it's also not a desktop replacement.
  • Re:12" screen? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mr_matticus ( 928346 ) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @08:01PM (#22612530)
    He indicated it was too much for his taste, but he also fairly indicated that this is the market's price range all around. You might think that a Wusthof is an overpriced knife and Farberware gets the job done fine. That clearly doesn't mean that Wusthof should lower its prices.

    Who says you're getting less? You'd have to be extremely one-dimensional to make that claim. A 50% weight reduction might easily be worth more than a 15" screen. A loss of 3/4" in thickness could very well make sense for a slower CPU and fewer ports. If you don't need or want something, it doesn't have any value to you.

    You don't care about looks, size, or weight. So this isn't for you. A business traveler probably doesn't care about having a desktop on his shoulder. So your machine isn't for him. It's presumptuous to claim you're getting "less" in an ultraportable than in a flimsily built standard laptop.
  • by mdwh2 ( 535323 ) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @08:53PM (#22612778) Journal
    But, but ... I'd rather have something that I can just plug straight in - that Just Works.
  • by MsGeek ( 162936 ) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @09:23PM (#22612880) Homepage Journal
    I don't need all the "raw power". I just need the ability to manage my networks, run some web pages, access some databases remotely. That's it.

    This looks like a job for Eee [asus.com].
  • Re:12" screen? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mr_matticus ( 928346 ) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @09:31PM (#22612922)
    Well this Ferrari seems a bit lazy, but as to other ultraportables: yes.

    It is no small feat (no pun intended) to reduce these machines. Whether it's a $2100 Vaio or an $1800 MacBook Air, every millimeter is a fight. Take the MacBook. It's one of the world's thinnest notebooks to begin with--barely over an inch thick overall. It is completely maximized for space as to "standard" notebook components.

    Then look at the MBA. It is the same machine, only less than half the volume. It's 0.3" thinner at its very thickest, and averages about half an inch thick throughout. How do you do that? What makes it so that you can package a thinner machine? Keep in mind that most notebooks are 1.5" thick, and a notebook is already a complex miniaturization of a desktop system. The low-travel keyboard alone takes up about a third of the thickest part of the MBA and about a quarter of the thickness of a Vaio. How do you manage heat distribution when there is so little room for air circulation? How do you move heat away from components horizontally because radiating upward won't actually allow heat to escape? How do you further miniaturize an already-tiny CPU package (for the MBA, it involved new packaging--smaller and more expensive for the same thing)? How do you cram a whole motherboard into a space smaller than your typical PCI sound card? How do you make a battery small enough to fit in that height but last long enough (for the MBA, it's to remove all the bulky packaging and the space-wasting bay and put it directly in the case--it's not the first company to do so)?

    Every millimeter is a fight. Removing the optical drive gets you maybe 1/3 of the way there for the MacBook Air. The rest of that makes a difference. There are plenty of people who would take the extra fifth of an inch back so they could keep the DVD drive. Sony makes a great Vaio for that, but it costs at least as much as the Air.

    Is it really an extra $1000? The answer to that question is the same as the answer to "why is the very fastest CPU $500 more than the next best, and beats it by maybe 5%?" Because that's why they call it the bleeding edge. Early adopters pay the premium that makes things happen. The trickle-down effect takes over from there.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 01, 2008 @10:12PM (#22613092)

    For that kind of money, why not get a Mac?

    Because these people aren't looking for laptops, they are looking for image. Ferrari is a vehicle, not a computer. It is a kick-ass vehicle, but it still has everything to do with image and nothing to do with the car itself. A person driving a Ferrari is saying "I have so much money and power that I can drop an insane amount of cash into an amazingly impractical vehicle and not give a flying fuck." How many Ferrari owners actually use the capabilities of their crazy vehicles? The vast majority of Ferrari owners obey the speed limit, drive very safely and leave their vehicle in the garrage, under a tarp under all but the best driving conditions.

    The Ferrari laptop is a different animal from the car. A Ferrari laptop sends a similar message as the H2 Hummer: I got a pile of money and I think that buying this chunk of trash will make my penis seem larger. That's it. That's all. It's the lizard part of the brain [google.ca] at work.

  • Horrible design (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SpaghettiPattern ( 609814 ) on Sunday March 02, 2008 @12:34AM (#22613724)
    I remain on the save side saying 90% Ferraris are designed gorgeously.

    Apart from the fact the Acer does not seem to convince on performance and sense, why in the name of god would Ferrari put its name on this ugly piece of junk?
  • Re:12" screen? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mr_matticus ( 928346 ) on Sunday March 02, 2008 @01:40AM (#22613894)

    it's not all that difficult to build a full-featured machine into a small chassis without making too many compromises.
    And Apple did just that with the MacBook, just as Dell has done with some of its XPS line, Sony, HP, and Lenovo have several of those as well. You're welcome to buy one of those, but to suggest that it's adequate for everyone is simply not the case. A five-pound MacBook isn't what everyone wants.

    None of them are ultraportables, though.

    Again, you're presumptively mocking the situations where thin and light matters more than it does to you. Two and a half pounds doesn't sound like a lot to you, but it's a 45% weight reduction. A minimum 0.3" thickness reduction doesn't mean much to you, but it packs essentially the same machine into half the volume. These things aren't worth another $700 to you the same way one of those monstrous 17" Dell laptops with two hard drives and desktop CPUs aren't worth another $1000 to you. To speak about footprint is again to miss the critical point--all folios and briefcases will accommodate a notebook--the footprint is similar to a sheet of paper. It's thickness and weight that they compete on.

    If you want something with a smaller, more PDA-like footprint, you're also shopping in the wrong segment, though plenty of companies offer that, too. The OQO products are excellent examples of subnotebooks(note their price: ~$1800; you get "even less" than a MacBook Air).
  • by mdwh2 ( 535323 ) on Sunday March 02, 2008 @02:40AM (#22614108) Journal
    That includes a game like Morrowind, which even ran poorly on a discrete Geforce 5600 (which could only manage to run it at 800x600 with FPS a lowly 15-30 range).

    A 5600? How old is that? How does that suggest a much more recent 8400 wouldn't be able to run it well?

    I shudder to think how low you have to reduce details/draw distance and resolution to run Morrowind on your GMA 950 or the GPUs in those laptops.

    Not at all, I run at max settings at 1024x768, though I miss a few features like reflections (probably due to older shader model, which isn't an issue on newer cards). And I know how well it works on a faster card, as I have an 8600GT in my desktop. But yes, I'd rather have something better than the GMA for playing games - which is why the NVIDIA laptops are preferred over the Mac.

    If a game cannot achieve a minimum of 60fps at 1024x768 then it is thoroughly unplayable unless you like blocky slideshows.

    For an FPS or other game where fast action is always needed, yes, but not for other types of games. Unless you think watching a TV is like a blocky slideshow.
  • by johny42 ( 1087173 ) on Sunday March 02, 2008 @03:55AM (#22614298)
    Have you ever seen an Acer fanboy?

Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. -- F. Brooks, "The Mythical Man-Month"