Wednesday, June 3, 2009

So far I am mildly impressed with the unit; even when running Vista basic. It loads in an acceptable amount of time. Shutsdown in a like manner. I have startups that somtimes take an extraordinarily long time, but this is usually after a failed Hibernate attempt. Hibernates properly sometimes, but can leave the power on with the lid closed. Sleep mode from the start button also goes into a non-sleep state similar to the hibernate failure. Screen is off, but the system continues to run and will never wake up. Both states requiea hard shutdown with the power button held for 6 seconds. This of course leads to Windows telling you that it was shut down abnormally. It will not auto-unhibernate if the lid is opened; a feature the previous HP and Toshiba did have.

The unit's performance passes one of my biggest tests; the unit should not prevent from doing something because some background process is running, starting, or ending. This system feels smooth due to the dual core processor. The other laptops I have used showed the hour glass far to often preventing me from clicking on anything; most noticable during the after login process launching. Don't get me wrong, this is no speed demon. It's just a smooth machine that does basic tasks; browse the web, run office, ...

Everything is available beneath panels on the bottom; batter, harddrive, memory, and even the CPU.

For those who have not looked, there is not too much info and a lot of speculation and confusion on the T2060 processor. It "appears" to be a Core Duo with 1MB of shared L2 cache running at 1.6Ghz. It appears to be a T2050 that's been stripped of 1MB of L2 cache. There is also a T2080 which has the same specs but runs at 1.73Ghz. The unit itself lists "Pentium Dual Core Inside", which has sparked all the discussion and probing. Since it's an OEM chip only, Intel doens't really talk about it much and there is only one vague page on their site specifying the basic specs that I've listed. The only additional tidbit is that it is a 65nm chip, which more closely resembles the core duo than Pentium Dual Core. Also it uses the core duo socket. Whatever you believe, and Acer and Intel sure are not telling, the processor is adequate for normal browsing and basic work. And as I mentioned earlier, having the second core really smooths things out from a usability point of view.

It's Vista scores are average held back mostly by its Intell 950 integrated graphics. The following tests were with the 2GB of memory (2x1GB dual channel active).
Processor 4.5
Memory 4.6
Graphics 3.0
Gaming Graphics 3.1
Hard Drve 4.7

The following tests were with the 512MB of memory (1x51xMB single channel).
Processor 4.5
Memory 2.8
Graphics 2.0
Gaming Graphics 2.1
Hard Drve 4.7

Vista basic is better than expected. However, don't even think about running even this version with 512MB. I tried and you might as well just burn the money rather than buy the laptop. 1GB is mandatory and 2GB, at the current prices (2x1GB 533Mhz for ~$85 shipped), is where this laptop should be. The system booted and running a couple of IE7 windows (fully patched OS) shows 910MB in use. The chipset and processor will only run at 533Mhz for the memory bus. My unit shipped with 667Mhz 512MB module, but it still showed in CPU-Z as running at 533Mhz. The new standards are 667Mhz and high-end of 800Mhz on Centrino Pro; yes yet another buzz word to understand.

The system includes a memstick/SD card reader. That is a nice touch for me since I have converted all my devies to SD.

The keyboard has a good feel, but it seems a little soft and cheap. Only time will how long it lasts. I'm used to selling my laptops after 2-4 years of use (DELL, Sony, Toshiba, and HP (yes I've tried a lot of them)).

The screen is fairly clear and bright. I've seen better, but this one is very good. It is the high contrast/reflective/glossy type, so if reflection is a problem, then this is not the right laptop. Screen refresh is good. There is a second external monitor option through a standard analong only VGA plug. S-Video is also possible.

I had a problem trying to get the integrated Broadcom 43xx wireless adapter to connect to my network. It just would not connect with all the right security. To be honest, this was my first try at Vista wireless configuration, but I've set up hundreds of other wireless connections in my time going back through 7 years of technology; yes that's prior to the B standard. I type in all the right stuf, and it would not connect. I read about many other people having the same problem. I tried switching between the two provided and listed drviers; MS and Broadcom. I reconfigured the connection three times. I played, with full understanding of the options and selecitons that I was changing, with the device's parameters; channel, connection info, preferences, .... Nothing seemed to work and I was very disappointed. My older laptop connected just fine. I even deleted the old laptop's connection and used the same security code, from a text file that I had placed on a USB drive, to avoid typing errors. It worked and the Acer would not. Then about 2+ hours into it, I suddenly saw a connection. No rhyme or reason. The wireless on/off switch was always set to on and the LED glowed the entire time. Still don't know why it suddenly came to life, but it's possible that I rebooted out of frustration. It has not failed since it started working. I'm tempted to delete and start from scratch to see if I can replciate the problem. This is the only problem that I've had.

Next to the wireless swtich, there is a switch that activates the internal Bluetooth and G3 (cellphone internet connection adapter for those who don't know) wireless options. Only problem is that this unit cannot have either installed. The motherboards has contacts for a plug, but no plug is installed for either. So this switch just exists to tell me that I'll never have an internal bluetooth device in this laptop. When you push it, it even tells you that, well sort of. It really says Bluetooth device not present.

The power brick is a fairly standard 65W 19V AC 3.4Amp unit. The only thing different is the 1.7mm inner diameter tip on the plug. My older Toshiba and HP laptops have similar ratings on their bricks, but the tip, although it fits in the plug for the Acer, will not make proper contact on the center post. I guess I could cut the tip off and replace it with the correct size (or mount both), but ebay has the adapter for only around $30 shipped so why bother.

There is no software included other than Acer management software (power, network, security, encryption), DVD drive writing/playback software, and Vista. Very basic. It will run Office 2003 or OpenOffice 2.0 just fine. I have not tested any games yet, but I'll have to test at least on 3D game like City of Heroes for comparison.

The only other issues are only one PCMCIA slot, which is not a big deal at all for me and the ethernet plug is in the middle of the left hand edge. Why not on the back where it makes more sense.

All in all a good laptop for the low end to low mid user. Don't expect big graphical things from this unit, but it appears to be a good laptop. Only time will tell durability. This is my first Acer.


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