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ABS ZForce F1 review: ABS ZForce F1

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The Good Low price; fast hard drive; firm keyboard; volume control wheel.

The Bad Big and heavy; disappointing performance; no built-in Wi-Fi; short battery life; limited options.

The Bottom Line Despite some enviable components, the ABS ZForce F1 is too big and slow to consider for home users on the go.

6.3 Overall

Review Sections

ABS ZForce F1

With dozens of slim, light, and powerful laptops on the market, the ABS ZForce F1 looks like a big, freshly unearthed fossil. Worse, it lacks one mobile must-have item: built-in Wi-Fi wireless networking. Its $1,500 price tag is one of this big desktop replacement's few saving graces, but home users would nonetheless do better to stick with competing laptops from Dell, Toshiba, or IBM.

Weighing 7.9 pounds, the ABS ZForce F1's size is on a par with that of Toshiba's thicker Satellite A25 series, but the ZForce's big 1.5-pound AC adapter makes for an unwieldy 9.3-pound travel weight--nearly 2 pounds more than IBM's ThinkPad R50. At 1.7 by 11.0 by 13.5 inches, the ABS ZForce F1 is a little smaller and thinner than the Toshiba Satellite A25, but it looks gigantic compared to the IBM ThinkPad R50.

The ABS ZForce F1's understated gray-and-black case contains above-average components for the most part, including a 3.06GHz Pentium 4 processor, a 5,400rpm 60GB hard drive, a whopping 1GB of high-speed 333MHz memory, and an ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 graphics accelerator with 64MB of video memory. Unfortunately, the DVD/CD-RW combo drive is not removable, and ABS doesn't offer an optional DVD burner.

Perfect for touch typing, the laptop's firm keyboard offers responsive 19.2mm keys that have a generous 2.7mm of depth. A smooth touchpad with handy up and down scroll keys sits below the keyboard. The ABS ZForce F1 has a convenient thumbwheel--an item we always like to see on a laptop--for controlling the volume from the fairly loud speakers, but it lacks a dedicated mute button.

The system's ports and slots are thorough and well marked; they include parallel, external monitor, PS/2, S-Video, FireWire, a PC Card slot, and three USB 2.0. Unfortunately, the ABS ZForce F1 lacks built-in wireless networking--a rare omission in the age of Centrino--although you can add this with a wireless card (about $50) via the PC Card slot.

The ABS ZForce F1 was a bit of a disappointment in CNET Labs tests, scoring a 146 on our MobileMark 2002 benchmark. That's 38 points behind the similarly configured Alienware Area 51m, but only 6 points behind the Eurcom D470W. The ABS ZForce F1's 4,000mAh battery didn't wow us, either, running for only 2 hours, 7 minutes, about half as long as the IBM ThinkPad R50. Plus, changing the ABS ZForce F1's battery is a hassle that requires removing three screws.

You can return the ABS ZForce F1 for a full refund within 30 days, but it must be in the original box and cannot be broken, or you'll pay a 15 percent fee. Otherwise, the two-year standard warranty includes onsite service, except in Texas. The company's Web site includes links to the makers of most components, plus it has tips and tricks, downloads, and a good assortment of FAQs. If you're in a bind, you can use ABS's toll-free phone line for the length of the warranty. Unfortunately, the help desk is open only from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. PT.

Mobile application performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo MobileMark 2002 performance rating  

Battery life  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo MobileMark 2002 battery life in minutes  

3D graphics performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Futuremark's 3DMark2001 SE  

Maximum application performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo SysMark 2002 rating  
SysMark 2002 Internet content creation  
SysMark 2002 office productivity  
ABS ZForce F1
246 
389 
155 
Eurocom D470W
244 
364 
164 
Alienware Area 51m
241 
375 
155 


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