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Acer Ferrari One 200 Review - More than a Netbook

Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Acer
Tagged:

Design

The first thing that hit me when unpacking the Ferrari One from its box
was that the notebook has a very sturdy and solid feel to it. Unlike
some other netbooks I have used including ones from Asus, Dell, and Acer
themselves, the Ferrari one doesn't feel cheap and plastic, and has
some reassuring heft to it.


Handling it with a single hand did
not raise any doubts about its construction - the body didn't bend,
flex, or creak. Giving it a good two-handed tweak along the body edges
and pressing on the lid didn't reveal any concerns about the build
quality - it's very solid. In some ways you'd expect
the Ferrari One to be handled delicately because of its designed
appearance, but it's clear that it's been built to take a beating and
still look good.



The hot Ferrari Red lid is really
spectacular to behold. In the above image, you can see metal flecks in the paint  which gives the Ferrari One 200 a
shimmering quality when light is reflecting off it. Combine the paint
with the embossed Ferrari badge and you have a bold attention grabber
that is simple and effective (no garish "designer" influences here!).


Opening
the lid reveals a somewhat understated industrial looking console and
screen. The console is primarily black with some red Ferrari cues around
the power button, and a checkered wrist rest which gives an illusion of carbon fiber. I think I would have liked to have seen a little more
red or even a dash of chrome around the keyboard area to give it
a stronger Ferrari feel.



The keyboard itself is interesting
as the keys themselves are larger than your standard 11.6" keyboard. By
making some of the keys not as wide or big (i.e. the
cursor keys are half-size), Acer has made the alphanumeric
keys bigger. In the end, typing on the keyboard feels really natural and not cramped. If you compare the width of the area from the Caps Lock to the Enter
key, it's actually almost the same as what you would find on 15.4" notebooks.

The
keys themselves are very soft and quiet, which means there isn't much
tactile feedback. On one hand this is nice because I can hammer my keys
and it barely annoys my co-workers. But on the other hand, I like the
feel of keys that have a bit more affirmative feedback.


The trackpad isn't completely smooth, but it
isn't exactly rough either. The best way I can describe it is like the
surface of a non-stick frying pan - there's a bit of texture to it, but
not enough to create friction. While the track pad looks like a
trapezoid shape, the usable tracking surface is actually rectangular -
which means the shape of it is purely cosmetic.

While the wrist area looks like carbon fiber, it actually doesn't feel much different than the
surface of the track pad. Since the transition from track pad to wrist
rest is seamless, I found myself swiping along the wrist area before
realizing that I was not gesturing on the pad. Acer should have made
better tactile distinction between the tracking area and wrist rest, and
this could have been easily done without ruining the aesthetics.

The
buttons on the track pad require only slight pressure to depress and
hold. This makes it easier to do drag and drop and marquee
/ drag selections. But because the buttons are so easily
pressable, they can come off as feeling a bit cheap.


The Acer Ferrari uses a glossy screen
which runs at 1366x768 resolution - we'll take a closer look at the
screen when we get to the video evaluation. There is also a webcam above
the screen which is capable of 640x480 recording. The webcam is good
enough for most applications, but had problems adjusting for
night time lighting and bright daytime conditions.


On the right side you'll find the memory
card reader, two USB 2.0 ports, microphone and headphone jacks (the
headphone jack also doubles as SPDIF output when using a 3.5mm to RCA
cable), Kensington lock port, the power port, and finally the Gigabit Ethernet port.


On the front of the notebook, there doesn't
appear to be anything that interesting aside from the status LEDs. But
if you look just below the lip, you'll find a small toggle switch for
enabling / disabling the wireless adapter. This is a small annoyance
because there isn't a keyboard hotkey equivalent for turning on/off the
adapter - instead you'll find a keyboard hotkey for the Ferrari website
which isn't as nearly useful.


On the left side there is a VGA port, a port for
an XGP connected graphics adapter, the exhaust vent, and
a single USB 2.0 port. It's worth noting that at time of publishing there are not any Radeon 5000-series XGP products available. The last time we saw a new XGP was at CES back in January, and since then there hasn't been a word on availability (see our CES 2010 coverage on the AMD XGP with Eyefinity).


On the back of the rear of the Acer
Ferrari is just the battery. Nothing else interesting there.


Flipping
the unit belly-up reveals a well perforated base for good ventilation.
The rubber feet have treads like tires on a car, but no chrome rims.


Opening
the panels reveals a SATA hard drive, two RAM DIMMs, and the Wi-Fi
adapter.
Unfortunately the CPU isn't accessible, so be sure to blow air through the vents from time to time since you can't easily visually inspect for dust in the CPU's fan.


Interestingly there is a mounting point on the PCB for
what would

have been a mini PCI-e header, but there isn't one on the
Ferrari One 200.


The access covers feature retaining washers for
the screws.

This way after you unscrew the covers from the notebook,

the
screws stay in place so you don't lose them.

A simple and thoughtful
design on Acer's part.

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