Acer has recently broken into the laptop market and started in on some pretty good mid range laptops. Acer has previously been known for their LCD monitors and now has started in on the highly competitive market of laptops. The model I purchased for my sons first laptop is the Acer Aspire 5004. The Aspire series is a good mid range and well priced laptop with a few exceptions. The model I bought has a few extra perks that the company did not install in their version. My model is a factory refurbished model that has a better hard drive and Wi-Fi built in. There are some reviews out on this model like the one at CNET.com but it is not the same as my model.
Here are the system specifications for the model I bought:
Acer Aspire model 5004WLMi
AMD Turion 64 ML-34 processor
1 MB L2 cache 1.8 GHz
15.4″ WXGA Acer CrystalBrite TFT LCD Screen
100 Gigabyte Hard Drive
DVD Dual Drive supports DVD+R Double Layer/DVD+RW
1 Gigabyte DDR Ram Memory
802.11b/g wireless LAN
This is a pretty decent set of specifications for a laptop. The model we bought is a bit better than most of the 5000 models that are reviewed at various web sites. This model is a refurbished one that has been to the Acer factory for its rework. A refurbished computer is one that has been sent back to the factory for service or repair and totally overhauled, inspected and tested. New components are added when needed and the whole system is upgraded to make for a better laptop than the original.
Our laptop comes with some programs that are not your regular ones as well. There are the usual ones like a game suite with card games like Hearts and Solitaire as well as NTI’s CD and DVD burner and backup program. Two programs from Acer that the laptop came with are Acer Arcade and Acer GridVista. Acer Arcade is a comprehensive multimedia suite but is nothing spectacular. It has a DVD player, audio and media player and burner.
The one program that is really good is the Acer GridVista, it simply places a number of windows on your desktop for programs or folders to stay in without moving. It also allows you to place a final window over all of these that is transparent so you can have a total of five windows open and not moveable for you to work with. This program is very simple to use and a very good addition. I can see programs like this coming out for more computers and becoming a much wanted program. The program works like this, you turn on the Acer GridVista through the laptops Start button. After you turn it on then open any other programs or file folders you will get three additional buttons in the programs folder or views as long as they support the program. You also get a button in the Task bar that is the first one you click on to set up the view. The view is one of four setups; two, three and four windows on your desktop. The two windows set up will be two side by side, the three will be two on top of each other and the third either on the left or right of the two and the four or quad view will have four windows in each corner. The three buttons on the programs or folders control which window you place that program or folder into. It will then stay in that corner or side and not move. This is very handy when doing research with several windows open at a time and not wanting the windows to move or close. All the programs that came with the computer support it and some of the ones we have installed do as well. So far the programs that don’t support it are ones that would not be very useful to have the smaller windows on anyway like Adobe’s Photoshop Elements. I’m sure we’ll find others that don’t support this function as well but for things like Word and Explorer it works just fine and is very nice. The three buttons control which corner each window is to go to, locked to that window or you can tack the window to stay on top or not.
The computer comes with a program called eManager that has a presentation, recovery and settings. The eSettings program allows you to change the settings for buttons on the laptop for things like one button email or Explorer. These buttons are located on the top right corner of the key area. The ePresentations is a program that selects the settings for an external projector if you hook one up to your laptop. The eRecovery is the backup utility that Acer uses to recover files and data using a backup file you create.
The Wi-Fi and modem are the usual ones that come with a computer and works, I don’t have any service so don’t know how well they do work. There are buttons on the front of the laptop for turning on and off the Wi-Fi and for a Bluetooth device if you have one installed later. The Acer Aspire 5004 also comes with 3 2.0 USB ports as well as an external video or projector plug in, a LAN and modem port and line in, out and microphone for audio. The laptop is nice and one of the things that came with my model is a good DVD writer/rewriter. The DVD is a dual layer recordable player and the movies look very good on the wide screen. This is the first wide screen device we have had and we just had to check out what they look like up close on our new laptop. The laptop plays movies well on the screen but games are going to be another story.
I did some benchmark testing on the laptop and some of the tests are both better and worse than my current desktop. I have a Compaq Presario with an AMD Athlon +2600 for my desktop and the laptops CPU did pretty well compared to it. The difference that comes into play between the two is in the area of graphics and the various parts of that. The desktop has a pretty good video card, ATI All in Wonder 9200. I can play games like Far Cry and Half Life 2 with some pretty good visuals and not have a problem with frame rates. The laptop does not even play Halo very well, the frame rates are very low and rendering of the graphics is slow on the graphics chips that are on the laptop. Laptops that can play good video games cost more and my son will have to get a better job to afford one like that. So to play video games my son will have to wait till he gets home and play on our desktop model or be happy with smaller and less graphic intensive games.
Over all the Acer Aspire is a pretty good medium priced laptop computer. It comes with a good variety of basic programs and the one that is an excellent new program that I have not seen before, Acer Grid Vista. If you’re looking for a laptop that is a good desktop replacement for general computing or email and internet use, look to Acer’s new line of laptops.