...excuse my crappy digicam, the pictures I took seriously don't do it any justice, so I'll use pictures from the acer site where possible.
AMD Athlon XP-M 2500+
512MB DDR333 SDRAM
60GB ATA/100 Hard Drive
DVD-RW / CD-RW combo drive (burns both)
128MB ATI Radeon 9200
15" SXGA+ TFT Display
The keyboard is slightly curved as you might notice from the picture. It was designed to keep your elbows apart so as to diminish the feeling of "cramped-ness". This being my first notebook, I wouldn't know. All I can say is that it took no time at all to get used to; I simply type as I would on my Logitech Elite and there's no fat-fingering. The layout is intuitive, not like some notebooks where they switch around the keys so you have to look to see what you want to hit. One exception is the placement of the Page Up and Page Dn keys, which are directly to the left and right of the up arrow key, which can sometimes be annoying if you hit the wrong thing. On holding the function key, you can increase or decrease volume by tapping the up and down arrow keys, increase or decrease brightness of the LCD display by tapping the left and right arrow keys, use 789, UIO, JKL, and M keys on the keyboard as a keypad (quite ingenius I must say), hit F8 to mute, F7 to enable/disable Synaptic touchpad, F6 to turn off the backlight for the LCD display, F5 to switch displays, F4 for sleep, F3 to toggle power management schemes, F2 for setup, and F1 for help with the hotkeys. (I might be a bit off for I don't dare try some of these buttons and I lost the manual ) The keys are quiet, yet responsive.
The mouse that comes with the notebook looks awesome, but because the buttons don't actually have a physical split between them, you have to press a little harder than usual. The optical tracking is also not up to my standards, so I prefer to use my own.
Another awesome thing about this notebook is its 4-in-1 card reader on the front. It reads MultiMediaCards™ (MMC), Secure Digital (SD) cards, SmartMedia™ cards and Memory Sticks®. Though I haven't yet had a reason to use it, I imagine it would be quite nice for someone who might not have the right camera for their notebook, like if someone had a Canon camera but a Sony Vaio (comes only with a Memory Stick reader).
The DVD burner is a plus as well. Most notebooks I'd been looking at only had a CD-RW w/ DVD reading capabilities.
USB connectivity is so-so... The good is that there are four of them, and they're 2.0. The bad is that it's on the left. I suppose this would be a plus for left handers, but for me, this is not so great. Minor detail though =)
The speakers are decent. Bass sucks of course, as it lacks a sub. But the sound is quite nice considering.
The screen is acceptably decent but not the best I've seen. As I would with any other LCD screen though, I still find myself connecting my notebook to my 19" CRT monitor when I'm at home, the CRT being easier on the eyes as it's bigger, brighter, and you can look at it from any angle.
Graphic performance is, I'm sorry to say, disappointing. While the 128mb Radeon 9200 beats most other notebooks on the market today, (from what I've seen, all but the Alienware Area51-M and the Sager notebooks) it's not as good as I would have liked. With the XP-M 2500+ and the R9200, the notebook scored a lowly 1060 3Dmarks in 3dMark 2003. While this performance is definitely enough to run CS, Tribes 2, etc at high resolutions with very high framerates, it will most likely fall short with upcoming games like Half-Life 2. With that in mind, I would strongly encourage anyone who wants a gaming machine to go with an Alienware Area51M, or an equivalent Sager. On a side note, I must inform anyone planning on buying a notebook that regular ATI drivers will not work with their mobile cards. You must download custom drivers like the ones a friend suggested to me... Omega or something.
One drawback is that the left palm rest gets really hot. It gets SO HOT in fact, that after many hours of continuous use at a LAN party, the "designed for Windows XP" sticker started to warp, from the adhesive melting! I simply smoothed it back over, but the fact that this happened at all is annoying. Interesting how the "GFX powered by ATI" and "AMD Athlon XP-M" stickers remained intact though. Maybe it's trying to tell us something about Windows, perhaps Microsoft products in general?
Application performance however, is quite nice, to be expected from any system with 512mb RAM and modern processor. It compiles at a respectable rate, which is all that matters to me =)
The Synaptics pointing device is a joy to use, though no replacement for a mouse. It beats the hell out of those "pointing nubs" seen on IBM laptops. You simply drag your finger around to point at something, then either press a "mouse" button, or tap the synaptics pad! The Acer Ferrari 3000 also comes with a 4 directional scroll device of sorts between the two buttons and below the pad. I can't say it's particularly useful but it's nice to have nonetheless.
Overall, the inside face of the notebook is simply awesome. I have yet to see a notebook that looks as nice, even the Sony Vaio series, with its silvers and greys, modern rounded, curved accents, and symmetrical layout, which is more than I can say for the Sentia . The Ferrari symbol in the lower right corner further underlines this inspiring look.
The bottom of the notebook also looks nice, even though I'm the only one fanatic enough to even look =)
The red sides are also nice, with the silver accents and rounded sleekness.
The LID however, is not for me. Its Ferrari Red is simply too bright and eye-catching for me. It just screams "look at me" in an even obnoxious way, I'd have to say. The Ferrari symbol that perfectly complemented the inside face now adds to the screaming radiance of the lid. It screams even more than the alien head with the bright glowing eyes that was on the Sentia that I was on the verge of purchasing. It does however draw a lot of attention because of this. It's amazing how at a lan party where there are modded cases aplenty with lots of lighting, people will still come up and ask about the notebook, stare at it, and inevitably inquire as to whether or not it's custom. (because of course, it's bright red and silver. With Ferrari logos. )
Dimension wise, this notebook has its ups and downs. The one thing that really makes me adore it is that it's very thin for a laptop with the parts inside of it, and the length and width. Amazingly, it is only 1.2" thin! The 15" screen however makes the notebook quite large, which was something I neglected to notice on purchasing it online, but I'm already growing acustomed to it. The one TRULY bad thing about this notebook however, is that it is, at 6.5lbs, quite heavy. The Sentia, in comparison, is only 4.9lbs! Sure, its screen is but 14.1", and it has fewer and simpler parts, but surely, it does not justify a 1.6lb difference! This is the one bad thing about the notebook. One thing though, to people who need/want a gaming laptop - the Alienware Area51M is 7.5lbs, making it even more heavy than the Ferrari 3000 by an addition 1lb. You're going to have to sacrifice a little in terms of mobility, but again if it's performance you want, you should definitely go for that.
Some other small things worth mentioning are that there are On/Off buttons for both the wireless card and Bluetooth, which are definitely convenient if you want to conserve power when not using those features. There are also five spherical silver buttons above the keyboard, one power button, another button for email, one for internet browser, and two additional ones that can be set to open any webpage or program desired. (mine are Visual C++ and BSPlayer ) There is also an infrared port, a PCMCIA slot, stereo headphone out, parallel port, VGA port, S-video out, microphone slot, and Type II PC Card slot. To top it off, the BIOS startup screen is a custom Ferrari background, and Windows has some preset custom Ferrari backgrounds and sound effects.
The system came with an "Acer Passport", Ferrari 3000 owners manual, a red microfibre Ferarri 3000 LCD display cleaning cloth, three recovery CDs, Norton Antivirus 2003, and a large plastic bag with which to play.
The build quality is excellent. No crooked panels, no squeaking, no flimsy, cheap feelings anywhere; it's solidly built. The surface texture is not as smooth and cold as that of the metalic Sony Vaio, but it's close enough =)
Tech support is acceptable. With the purchase of this notebook, you get a year's worth of it. I emailed them about a minor problem and received a timely response, and a helpful one at that. They gave me several links and put their advice in a way that really makes you feel like they care.
To wrap it all up, the Acer Ferrari 3000 is an extremely viable solution for one who desires a balance between mobility and performance, a screaming look of exclusivity and a nice looking mix of colours. (red/silver/black) It is unbelievably well priced at ~$1800 US (from CDW) and due to its fresh new chassis, represents a good investment in modern engineering.
Coolness Factor: 9999999999999999999/10!!!!!