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Friday, January 15, 2010

Acer Ferrari 4005 WLMi


As the leading computer notebook brand in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), Acer has teamed up with Ferrari to be the official supplier to Scuderia Ferrari, the racing team of Ferrari. Leveraging this partnership, Acer is able to introduce exclusive, racing inspired notebooks that are elegant, cutting-edge, and powerful, much like the actual Ferrari automobile. The new Acer Ferrari 4000 revamps the previous generation Acer Ferrari models by pumping more horsepower and sporting a new design.

The Acer Ferrari is designed to impress, especially with its sleek looks and powerful components. Like the Acer TravelMate 8100 series, the Ferrari 4000 is composed of Acer's Folio design. To distinguish the new platform from its predecessors, the 4000 retains its own racing-inspired theme made up of an elegant thin-and-light carbon fiber casing in sleek black and Ferrari-red trims. Even the included Bluetooth mouse matches the system. Under the hood, the Acer Ferrari 4000 (model 4005 WLMi) sports AMD's new Turion 64 mobile processor, running at 2.0GHz on ATI's Radeon Xpress 200M chipset. Other prominent features include a luminous 15.4-inch widescreen LCD with razor sharp 1680 x 1050 native resolution, a new modular slot-loading dual layer DVD burner, 100GB hard drive, and 1GB RAM. This attractive package also combines a myriad of other bells and whistles.

Avid gamers will be satisfied with the performance from the mid-range ATI MOBILITY RADEON X700 graphics with 128MB DDR VRAM. Although the Ferrari 4000 possesses some characteristics of a desktop alternative, it measures only 1.2 inches thin and weighs 6.3 pounds with its 8-cell battery. While not the most ideal computer for intensive travel, it's still a well-balanced machine suited for moderate portability and is actually more portable than other notebooks in the same class.

The stunning Acer Ferrari 4005 WLMi gives you power and status, for a hefty $2,199 price tag.


Although the Acer Ferrari 4000 possesses some attributes similar to a desktop alternative notebook, this is a performance laptop that won't break your back. Measuring 14.3-inches wide, 10.5-inches long and only 1.2-inches thick at the front section and extending 1.4-inches thick towards the back, the Ferrari is ideal for large sized cases and backpacks. I had difficulty slipping this computer in most of the mid-sized carrying cases, but I found the lightweight Samsonite L35 carrying case to be the perfect companion. Even the stylish Boa XM backpack from Booq will house the Ferrari comfortably.

The Bluetooth mouse matches the system nicely.

At 6.3 pounds with the 8-cell battery, the Ferrari is not intended to accompany you everywhere you go, but is rather suited for occasional travel. Unlike the Fujitsu N3510, which weighs a pound more and is .4-inches thicker, the Ferrari is a well-balanced machine that is feasible for travel while offering a spacious viewing area. The thought of being able to watch a DVD movie on such a large display anywhere I go makes it more appealing to take out and about, where typically laptops with a screen of this caliber are made to be used on the desk and nowhere else.

Case and Design
Acer and Ferrari were able to assemble an aesthetically impressive notebook that illustrates originality and style. The new Ferrari 4000 uses the same chassis as the Travelmate 8100 series and is composed of the same Folio design, but instead possesses its own racing-inspired theme. Moving away from the all Ferrari red design found in the previous generation Ferrari models, the revamped Ferrari 4000 comes in a sleek black finish but keeps the Ferrari's 'Rosso Corsa' red trim on the side panels and on the edge of the top lid. Not only is the carbon fiber lid lighter and stronger than other materials, it also gives off a distinctive look with the black and grey checkered shades.

The silver Acer logo is emblazoned in the top lid while the yellow prancing horse emblem is embossed in the center of the carbon fiber lid.

The two tone color scheme keeps it sleek and refined, with the interior constructed from polycarbonate plastic wrapping around from the keyboard area to the bottom chassis. The edges are curvaceous and the rubberized surface around the palm rest and keyboard area is smooth, resembling the texture of a racing tire - it's also one of the most comfortable textures my palms have ever rested on. In addition, the rubber-like texture serves to insulate heat generated from the internal components.

Sleek and durable chassis gives it an original style.

The yellow prancing horse emblem is found again on the palm rest area.

There are two sets of status indicators found on the computer; the first is located on the upper-left corner above the keyboard (below the display screen) and the second set is on the front of the computer. The upper-left corner below the display contains LED indicators for power (power button), hard disk, caps lock, and num lock. All indicators emit a greenish glow when activated.

Conveniently located on the front panel are a set of highly useful indicator lights which provide a quick glance at the power, battery charge, Bluetooth, and Wireless LAN. Both the power and battery status indicators emit a green glow when active (or amber for the battery when it's charging) , while the Bluetooth and Wireless LAN buttons light up a dazzling blue and amber glow, respectively. The Bluetooth and Wireless LAN buttons are used to enable or disable their associated functions.

Located on the upper right hand corner are four easy-launch keys to instantly launch your frequently used applications. Each button has symbols designated for email, web browser, Acer eManager, and a user programmable option. The email button is used to launch your email client, such as Microsoft's Outlook; however, it is also user programmable to designate other applications. The web browser key is used to launch your favorite web browser, but is also user programmable. The Acer Empowering key ('e' symbol) is used to launch the Acer eManager application (more on this in the software section). Lastly the user programmable button is available for you to assign your favorite application via the Launch Manager software. Unfortunately there are no multimedia hot keys despite the available room around the top section of the keyboard.

Quickly launch your favorite application.

Design Continued

The black, full-sized 88-key ergonomic keyboard contains all the essential keys, particularly the Windows and Ctrl keys at the bottom left of the keyboard, where normally some laptops contain only the Fn key. The PgDn, PgUp, Home and End cursor keys are also present and are placed vertically on the right side of the keyboard. The Caps Lock, Shift, Alt, Tab, Backspace, and Enter keys are of appropriate size. Like most laptop keyboards, the numeric keypad is embedded within the keys located near the center of the keyboard and is activated with the num lock key. In addition, there are function keys to adjust the audio volume, alter the screen brightness, put the system to sleep, disable or enable the touchpad, and switch to an external monitor when connected. When toggling one of these function keys, such as the audio for example, it will activate an on-screen volume indicator. This helps you identify exactly which volume settings you want to select. The on-screen indicator applies to other function access buttons as well, with the exception of the screen brightness, which is not available.

With respect to usage, the 'Acer FineTouch' keyboard offers decent key travel distance and excellent response. You will notice from the picture the keyboard employs a five-degree curve for a more ergonomic placement, which I find neither an advantage nor disadvantage compared to the straight-laced arrangement keyboards. Some users may need to be accustomed to this unusual layout while others will pick it up immediately. On that note, I can type quickly, accurately, and comfortably with this keyboard. You may think this is the same keyboard found on the Acer TravelMate 8100 series, but in fact it feels slightly different in terms of its depression levels and noise generation. The keys are soft and feel light when depressing them (not as stiff as the ThinkPad T42, softer than the Acer TravelMate 8103/8104, but not as soft as the PowerBooks). Overall, the Ferrari keyboard has minimal spring, allowing the keys to be quite responsive (slightly more responsive than the Acer TravelMate 8103/8104) while exhibiting little noise (quieter than the TravelMate 8100 series' keyboard). Like the TravelMate 8103/8104, the keys depress at a comfortable 2.5mm of depth which feels comfortable when typing. Some may find the travel too shallow, especially if you're accustomed to the 3mm travel distance from the IBM ThinkPads. The keyboard is centered nicely with 1.2-inches of room on each side, and there is sufficient room around the palm rest area to ensure your wrists also enjoy a comfortable typing experience. This is certainly a solid keyboard that comes close in comparison to the likes of the IBM ThinkPads and even Apple Powerbooks. As I've stated similarities and differences, I prefer the Ferrari keyboard over the the TravelMate 8100 series' keyboard.

Touch pad
To match the laptop's overall wide-aspect design, the touchpad measures 3-inches wide and 1.5-inches in length, offering sufficient surface area to allow comfortably gliding of one's finger. Like the palm rest area, the black flush surface is clean and smooth, sensitive to touch and responds accurately to movement. As with most touch pads, it also allows for tapping to execute an action if you prefer not to use the click buttons. To the right and bottom edge of the surface area, the touchpad has a function to scroll vertically or horizontally. This allows you to scroll in applications like Internet Explorer when sliding your finger in the appropriate direction.

The two click buttons are appropriately sized, emitting slightly less noise than the TravelMate 8100 series' touchpad buttons. For added convenience, there is a useful center click button that serves as a four-way scroll button to scroll up or down and move left or right within a page. The left and right click buttons are brushed in gray metallic.

Connectivity Options
Thanks to its wide frame, the Ferrari 4000 is loaded with a multitude of connectivity options surrounding all sides of the computer. Since the cables are spread out on all sides of the machine, there are no protruding parts that can accidentally break off during transit; as an added benefit, cable clutter is greatly reduced. The computer offers a whopping four USB 2.0 ports instead of the common two ports found in most laptops. For users who prefer to connect their laptop to an external monitor, television or projector, the Ferrari 4000 supplies all available video outputs, including DVI-D, VGA, and S-Video. DVI is an option not commonly found on your average consumer notebooks. This is a must for anyone planning to use an LCD monitor or digital projector.

DVI-D & S-Video


On the front panel, you will immediately notice the left and right speaker grilles made of tiny hole-punches that gives the notebook a very distinctive look. The 5-in-1 card reader is capable of reading Secure Digital (SD), Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, MultiMediaCard (MMC) and xD-Picture cards, allowing the transfer of files from the majority of digital cameras. Next to the 5-in-1 card reader is a built-in mono microphone that is stationed inside a tiny hole-punch. An Infrared port is available for short range wireless IR devices such as PDAs and printers. The Speaker/Line-out/Headphone jack connects to audio line-out devices such as speakers and headphones and includes SPDIF support. Next to it is the Line-in/Mic-in port that accepts microphones and line-in devices such as an audio CD player. As mentioned in the preceding section, there are two backlit buttons for activating Bluetooth and Wireless LAN. Both radios can also be disabled when not in use in order to conserve the battery.

Two stiff hinges hold the LCD panel together, located near each corner of the display. The LCD panel contains dual latches that keep the lid securely closed, preventing any type of movement when shuffling the laptop around. When shut, the screen hovers slightly over the keyboard and palm rest area, reinforced by eight rubber pads to prevent the screen from touching the keyboard and wrist area.

On the rear, there is a DVI-D port that supports digital video connections like modern LCD flat panel monitors. There is also the requisite S-Video port to connect to a television or display device with S-Video input. Lastly we have the huge 124-pin Acer ezDock connector that connects to the Acer ezDocking station for expandability.

The battery pack fits nicely without protruding and is made to offer a hand grip when carrying the notebook.

On the left-side: VGA port, ventilation slots, Ethernet 10/100/1000 jack, phone port, one of the four USB 2.0 port, 4-pin IEEE 1394 FireWire port, and PC Card slot.

On the right-side: the remaining three USB 2.0 ports are found positioned horizontally, the slot-load Super-Multi DVD+/-RW drive (hot swappable), power connector and security keylock to connect a Kensington-compatible security lock.

Heat and Noise
In a notebook, components such as the hard drive and the cooling fan are responsible for generating heat and noise. The cooling fan on the Acer Ferrari, which is located on the left side of the notebook, operates constantly regardless of whether the processor throttles down . Unfortunately, the Ferrari's fan noise is more noticeable than that of the Acer TravelMate 8100 series. During general Internet/email usage with the AC power plugged in, the continuously spinning fan creates a low-pitched whooshing sound as the air passes through the system's vents. When using the Acer Ferrari for gaming, also with the system plugged into the AC power, the noise generated from the fan is substantially more noticeable as it spins faster to remove excess heat from the chassis. Whether or not the noise level of the fan is tolerable will depend on the individual user. After using a wide range of notebooks and experiencing vastly different levels of noise, I found that the fan noise generated from the Ferrari is louder than I would prefer.

Heat build up on the Ferrari is minimal. Mobile Meter reported around 45-49 degrees Celsius at full performance (2.0 GHz) when idle. During heavier loads, temperatures reached around 51 to 56 degrees. The system becomes warm, but never reaches uncomfortable levels. A few areas like the touchpad and palm rest can become lukewarm. Compared to the Acer 8104, which recorded 61 degrees during heavy load and 46-50 degrees during idle, the Ferrari actually runs cooler, perhaps due to the faster and louder spinning fans. The rubber material as mentioned in the Design section may also play a key role in minimizing the heat output.

Upgrading and Expansion
Upgrading the Acer Ferrari 4005 is simple, thanks to the easily accessible compartments located on the bottom side of the machine. The Wi-Fi mini-PCI adapter, memory, and hard drive are all user replaceable. There are two RAM modules pre-installed in the computer, two 512MB sticks of 333MHz (PC-2700) DDR made by Hyundai for a total of 1024MB (1 GB).

To replace the hard drive, the user simply needs to remove the hard drive access panel. The Acer Media Bay, which currently houses the slot-load optical drive module, allows the user to swap the optical drive for another modular device, such as a secondary battery or hard disc drive. Simply release the latch located at the bottom to detach the optical drive. In addition to the Ferrari's wide-array of connectivity options, the optional Acer ezDock is available to transform the notebook into a true desktop computer with many of the same connectivity and expansion options.

The slot-load optical drive bay can be swapped out for another drive.


The Ferrari is powered by the high-end AMD Turion 64 ML-37 clocked at 2.0 GHz with 1MB L2 cache. Essentially, the Turion 64 processor is a mobile variant of the Athlon 64, meaning Turion retains the powerful AMD64 micro-architecture. As the '64' moniker implies, Turion supports 64-bit operation and is designed to work with 64-bit operating systems like Windows XP 64-bit and the upcoming Windows 'Vista' (Codenamed Longhorn). There are two types of Turion chips, ML and MT flavors. Since Turion is still relatively new, the ML variety is the most common. ML chips have a Thermal Design Power (TDP) of 35W, meaning at most the chip will dissipate 35W of power. The MT chips stand to offer the most competition against Intel's Pentium M as they consume a mere 25W, but right now the MT Turion's are few and far between. The AMD64 architecture does not use a conventional front side bus (FSB), instead using HyperTransport technology to interconnect the different components and runs at 1600MHz (800MHz upstream & downstream).


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