No bones about it: The Acer Ferrari 5000 is one sweet-looking laptop. Its sleek black case with Ferrari-red accents prominently features the sports car maker's logo on both the lid and the keyboard deck. Add in its thorough feature set and strong application performance, and you would have a winning machine--but for the price. At $2,399, the Acer Ferrari 5000 costs quite a bit more than competitive systems; an identically configured HP Pavilion dv6000z costs just $1,498, and a closely configured Dell Inspiron E1505 costs $1,835. Unless you're buying the Ferrari 5000 to match your actual Ferrari sports car, it's tough to justify the extra expense.
Measuring 14.6 inches wide, 11.1 inches deep, and 1.4 inches thick, the Acer Ferrari 5000 is a bit deeper and thicker than other 15.4-inch laptops, such as the HP Pavilion dv6000z. At 6.8 pounds, the Ferrari is also heavier than the HP, though its weight more or less matches that of the Dell Inspiron E1505 and the PC Club Enpower ENP680. Weighing 7.8 pounds with its AC adapter, the Ferrari 5000 is portable enough to take with you on the occasional road trip.
Like many Acer laptops, the Ferrari 5000 includes a broad, comfortable keyboard with an ergonomic curve. The rectangular touch pad is nice and wide, as are the two mouse buttons below it; a convenient scroll button sits between the two mouse buttons. While the Acer Ferrari 1000 features sports-car styled buttons around the keyboard, this larger version includes just four programmable application-launch buttons in a straight row above the keyboard. Along the Ferrari 5000's front edge are two handy sliding switches for turning the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth hardware on and off (to conserve the battery when not in use). We like all these features, though we do wish the laptop afforded some sort of hardware multimedia controls.
The Ferrari 5000 includes a 15.4-inch wide-screen display with a native resolution of 1,680x1,050. Though that's a finer resolution than you'll usually find on a screen of this size, we were disappointed to find that DVD images still looked grainy. Text and still images, however, were quite sharp. The bright display's glossy coating can also be annoyingly reflective; unfortunately, there's no option for a display with a matte finish. 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.
Like its sports car namesake, the Acer Ferrari 5000 comes fully loaded; it includes pretty much every connector for audio (microphone, line-in, and a headphone jack with S/PDIF support), video (VGA, S-Video, and HDMI-out), and data (mini-FireWire and four USB 2.0 ports). A Type II PC Card slot lets you add functionality such as a TV tuner (unfortunately, no tuner is built in), and a 5-in-1 flash card reader recognizes MultiMediaCard, Secure Digital, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, and xD Picture Card formats. Networking connections include modem, Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth; as with the smaller Ferrari 1000, Acer also throws in a Ferrari-branded mouse and a nifty Bluetooth VoIP phone that tucks into the laptop's PC Card slot when not in use. A slot-loading, double-layer DVD burner rounds out the feature set.
We reviewed the fixed-configuration Acer Ferrari 5005, which costs $2,399. That price is pretty steep for a laptop of this size, but it does include some high-end components: a 2.0GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60 dual-core processor, 2GB of fast 667MHz RAM, an ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics card with 512MB dedicated memory, and a large, 160GB hard drive spinning at 5,400rpm. Although in the past, laptops with Turion 64 X2 processors have seemed slow compared to their Core 2 Duo counterparts, the Ferrari 5000 kept pace with the Core 2 Duo-based Toshiba Satellite P105-S9722 and PC Club Enpower ENP680 on CNET Labs' performance benchmarks. The Ferrari did trail a bit behind those systems on our Photoshop test, but that is likely due to their higher-end graphics cards. Unless you're planning to use your laptop for heavy-duty graphics work, the Ferrari should provide smokin' performance. Better yet, when it comes to battery life, the Ferrari 5000 lasted a respectable (and above-average) 3 hours, 41 minutes.
Acer backs the Ferrari 5000 with a one-year warranty, which is standard for consumer laptops. Acer's tech-support phone lines are open only Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on weekends from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. PT. The company's online support could stand some sprucing up; though it does offer easy driver and manual downloads, it lacks such helpful features as forums and real-time chat with a tech-support rep.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)