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Acer Ferrari 1004WTMi review: Acer Ferrari 1004WTMi

The compact Acer Ferrari 1000 features the great looks and fast speed of the Italian sports car, but it doesn't have enough gas for the long haul.

Michelle Thatcher Former Senior Associate Editor, Laptops
Tech expert Michelle Thatcher grew up surrounded by gadgets and sustained by Tex-Mex cuisine. Life in two major cities--first Chicago, then San Francisco--broadened her culinary horizons beyond meat and cheese, and she's since enjoyed nearly a decade of wining, dining, and cooking up and down the California coast. Though her gadget lust remains, the practicalities of her small kitchen dictate that single-function geegaws never stay around for long.
Michelle Thatcher
5 min read
Since we reviewed the Ferrari 4000 last year, Acer has released a fleet of Ferrari-themed laptops in all sizes. The ultraportable of the bunch, the Ferrari 1000, has a compact chassis worthy of the sports car maker's logo, and its speedy performance on our benchmarks would likewise make the Italian engineers proud. Unfortunately, its battery life came up short of what we'd expect from a machine that's designed for maximum mobility. If you're looking for a wide-screen ultraportable with stamina, check out the Fujitsu LifeBook Q2010 or the Dell Latitude D420. But if battery life can take a backseat to performance, the Acer Ferrari 1000 is a stylish speed racer.

Were this laptop an actual Ferrari, it would be the relatively compact 206GT. The Acer Ferrari 1000 measures 11.9 inches wide, 8.7 inches deep, and slightly less than 1 inch thick. Weighing 3.9 pounds (4.8 pounds with its AC adapter), the laptop is a bit heavier than the similarly sized Latitude D420 and much heavier than the ultraslim LifeBook Q2010. Nevertheless, the Ferrari 1000 is lightweight enough to carry around with you every day.


Acer Ferrari 1004WTMi

The Good

Cool Ferrari styling; strong performance; comfortable keyboard; built-in rotating Webcam; plenty of ports and connections.

The Bad

Short battery life; optical drive is not built-in; uncomfortable mouse buttons.

The Bottom Line

The compact Acer Ferrari 1000 features the great looks and fast speed of the Italian sports car, but it doesn't have enough gas for the long haul.

Like all ultraportables, the Acer Ferrari 1000's tiny case requires a compact keyboard. But we were surprised to find that typing for extended periods was easy, perhaps in part because the keys have a satisfying spring. The touch pad is likewise compact, but its width makes it usable, and we appreciate the vertical scroll zone along its right side. The groovy metallic mouse buttons curve downward at the bottom, resulting in an uncomfortable trough between the touch pad and the edge of the laptop. Four glowing application quick-launch buttons frame the top corners of the keyboard; users can easily program the specific applications launched.

The Ferrari 1000 includes a 12.1-inch wide-screen display with a native resolution of 1,280x800. While that sharpness occasionally results in text that's too small to read, we found it workable for everyday word processing and Web surfing. Mobile workers looking for a productivity tool probably won't like the screen's glossy coating, which resulted in some reflections in our office environment; unfortunately there's no option for a display with a matte finish. But home users who want a highly portable media machine will likely enjoy watching movies on the Ferrari 1000. Above the display sits a 1.3-megapixel Webcam that rotates 225 degrees, letting you snap shots in front of, above, or behind the laptop.

In addition to the Webcam, the Acer Ferrari 1000 packs an impressive set of multimedia and connectivity features. Around the case are VGA-out, FireWire, and three USB 2.0 ports, plus mic-in, line-in, and headphone jacks with S/PDIF support. A 5-in-1 flash card reader and a Type II PC Card slot handle your memory card and expansion needs, though we wish there was support for the latest ExpressCards. Networking connections include modem, Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. Like many ultraportables, the Ferrari 1000's optical drive is not built into the case, but the purchase price includes a matching external double-layer DVD burner. Acer also throws in a matching Ferrari travel mouse and a nifty Bluetooth VoIP phone that tucks into the laptop's PC Card slot when not in use. If you need more connections or just want a home base for your Ferrari, the laptop is compatible with Acer's $59 docking station.

The Acer Ferrari 1000 is available in one fixed configuration, which costs $1,999. That price is about average for an ultraportable laptop, but it includes some components that are on the high end for a system of this size: a 1.8GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 dual-core processor, 1GB of fast 667MHz RAM, integrated ATI Radeon Xpress 1150 graphics, and a massive, 160GB hard drive spinning at 5,400rpm. In keeping with its sports-car namesake, the Ferrari 1000 raced ahead of both the Dell Latitude D420 and the Fujitsu LifeBook Q2010 on CNET Labs' performance benchmarks. The Ferrari 1000 traded pole position with the Turion 64 X2-based HP Pavilion dv2000z, most likely because the latter had twice as much RAM.

We appreciate that Acer includes both a three-cell and a six-cell battery with the Ferrari, so you can choose the amount of weight you want to carry. But the laptop's three-cell battery couldn't even last the 90 minutes required to complete our battery-drain tests, and the six-cell held out for just 3 hours, 45 minutes. That's not enough to last through a flight from San Francisco to Chicago, and it's well behind the more than 7-hour battery life offered by the LifeBook Q2010 and the Latitude D420.

Acer backs the Ferrari 1000 with a one-year warranty, which is standard for consumer laptops. Acer's tech-support phone lines are open only Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on weekends from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT. The company's online support could stand some sprucing up; though it offers easy driver and manual downloads, it lacks helpful features such as forums and real-time chat with a tech-support rep.

Multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS2 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Microsoft Office productivity test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

BAPCo MobileMark2005 battery life (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

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System configurations:

Acer Ferrari 1004WTMi
Windows XP Professional SP2; 1.8GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-56; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 600MHz; 512MB ATI Radeon Xpress 1150; 160GB Seagate 5,400rpm

Dell Latitude D420
Windows XP Professional SP2; 1.2GHz Intel Core Duo U2500; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 533MHz; 224MB Intel Mobile Express 945GM; 60GB Toshiba 4,200rpm

Fujitsu LifeBook Q2010
Windows XP Professional SP2; 1.2GHz Intel Core Solo Ultra Low Voltage U1400; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 533MHz; 128MB Intel Mobile Express 945GM; 80GB Toshiba 4,200rpm

HP Pavilion dv2000z
Windows XP Home SP2; 1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-52; 2,048MB DDR SDRAM 533MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce Go 6150; 100GB Fujitsu 5,400rpm


Acer Ferrari 1004WTMi

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 8Performance 7Battery 4Support 5