Forgoing the typical dull silver, putty-gray, or black plastic case, the Acer Ferrari 4000 will turn heads with a matte black carbon-fiber case, a prominent rearing Ferrari stallion logo, and accents of race-car red. Looks aren't the only similarity between the laptop and the Ferrari sports car, however: at $2,199 (as of August 2005), the Ferrari 4000 costs several hundred dollars more than the competition. Still, if you have the need for speed, the Ferrari 4000 will leave lesser notebooks in the dust--and look great doing it.
Built with lightweight materials, the 6.7-pound Ferrari 4000 occupies the middle zone between thin-and-lights and desktop replacements; it's a few ounces heavier than the Toshiba Satellite M35X but much smaller and lighter than the Fujitsu LifeBook N3510 multimedia laptop. Measuring 1.4 inches by 14.2 inches by 10.4 inches, the Ferrari 4000 is thinner than both the Satellite M35X and the LifeBook N3510. Add in the Ferrari 4000's large, 1.1-pound three-prong AC adapter, and you have a system that's portable enough for the occasional trip but really too heavy for regular travel.
While we like the Ferrari 4000's large keys and sturdy keyboard, the slightly curved ergonomic layout took us a little while to get used to. The laptop's wide touch pad matches the large mouse buttons; a central button controls scrolling and Web browsing. Above the keyboard are four instant-start buttons that can be programmed to launch the applications you use most frequently.
Among the Ferrari 4000's strengths is its attractive 15.4-inch wide-screen display, with a 1,680x1,050 native resolution. While we prefer the brightness and contrast on the HP Pavilion dv4000's shiny screens, the Ferrari 4000's display is among the richest and sharpest we've seen. It's a shame the Ferrari 4000 lacks an instant-start media player and dedicated controls for playing videos.
The Ferrari 4000 is also strong on connections for both work and home uses. With four USB 2.0, unpowered FireWire, S-Video, VGA, and--somewhat of a rarity on laptops--DVI ports, as well as headphone and microphone jacks and a Bluetooth radio, this machine can connect to a variety of peripherals. You also get a slot for Type II PC Cards; an excellent flash card reader that supports Secure Digital, MultiMediaCard, Memory Stick, and even tiny xD modules. The Ferrari 4000 can race online via modem, Ethernet, or an 802.11g Wi-Fi radio, which, in our casual tests, was able to stay online approximately 100 feet from our base station. The machine also features a great, slot-loading multiformat, double-layer DVD burner.