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Acer Ferrari 1002 WTMi
We live in an era of brands and symbols. Everywhere you turn, you will see a celebrity endorse a lifestyle product, be it a perfume, or a more exotic product like a rare scotch. It’s all about good living and heavy spending. It should, therefore, come as no surprise, that PC companies should target this lifestyle segment with stylized products that look great, offer sterling performance and have exclusive branding that sets them apart from the normal crowd.
Recently we had reviewed one such product the Asus Lamborghini VX1 laptop, which was a good effort offering great looks along with decent performance. Today we are checking out a similar product--- Acer’s Ferrari 1002 WTMi. Acer has been tied up with premier car maker Ferrari, for a while now, for co-branding. Their entire range of products, has developed a good reputation for good looks and above average performance. Let us see if the 1002 WTMi is able to keep up to its predecessors.
The 1002WTMi is a 12.1 inch ultra-portable laptop. This is a good thing as, ultra-portable laptops, according to us, are a perfect balance of performance and light-weight mobility.
The 1002WTMi is one of the smartest looking laptops we have ever seen. Unlike the red garish color, that was the previous generation’s hallmark, the new color scheme is closer to a current-generation Ferrari scheme i.e. black body with shades of red skillfully placed to give it a very sleek and sexy look. The only drawback we found was that the body looks "plasticky" when viewed at certain angles due to the construction materials used. The laptop weighs in at a mere 1.4 Kg.
The keyboard area of the laptop retains the same red-black color scheme. The one touch keys for the laptop, at first glance, may appear to be an electronic touchpad but they are not. The keys are actually a metallic plate instead of the plastic cover that is normally used. The keyboard however is a bit cramped, which is an annoying problem with virtually all the ultra-portable laptops we have ever used. Apart from this niggling problem, the keys are slightly elevated as compared to the standard recessed keys. This offers you a good typing speed and control making it fairly comfortable to work on. The touchpad, is one feature of this laptop we really fell in love with. It is slightly sunken and has a smoothness and texture which allows for precise control. This is a very good move as it saves you the trouble of having to buy an external mouse which will block up a vital USB port.
In terms of connectivity, the Ferrari 1002 WTMi is no better or worse than other ultra-portables. There are a total of 3 USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire Port, a Type II PC card slot and a 5-in-1 card reader. The inclusion of Firewire may seem like a good thing but it was actually done to hide a glaring fact that will annoy most users. The laptop itself does not have an inbuilt DVD-RW. Acer instead has bundled an external drive for use with the laptop. This external 6x multiformat DVD burner, has the same branding and color scheme of the laptop so it does not look too bad.
In a surprising departure from the standard practice of using Intel processors, Acer has chosen to use AMD dual-core mobile processors. The WTMi has a Turion 64 X2 TL-50 dual core processor which runs at a clock speed of 1600 MHz. This is a good strong processor that offers good performance and is easily able to handle intensive tasks. The one negative point of using AMD processors is the fact that they are nowhere as power efficient as Intel’s processors. This affects the battery life fairly heavily and leads to much lowered battery life.
In terms of storage the 1002 WTMi had a large 120 GB drive which is a good move as it allows you to carry a lot of data around without the need for an external USB HDD. The system’s optical media needs are serviced by an external 6x multiformat DVD-RW which is a good performer. We burnt a few DVDs and watched a few movies. The unit was as fast or slow as any standard device so this was not a trouble area.
Our next check on the system memory left us a bit stumped. Our test unit had only a paltry 512 MB of ram which is plain stupid when you consider the price its sold at. The graphics chipset on the 1002 WTMi is an ATI Radeon Xpress 1150 integrated graphics subsystem. This is a very (for lack of any other term) crippled chipset that offers minimal 3D performance. Though the video adapter has 256 MB of virtual usable ram, its performance just does not compare to a standard Nvidia’s series based chipset. For its display the 1002WTMi uses a 12.1-inch widescreen LCD with a native resolution of 1280x800. Thankfully this is one area where the laptop had minimal issues. The screen was clear and bright with vibrant colors making intensive work on the laptop a lot easier.
Our final check on the Ferrari 1002 WTMi i.e. networking revealed an interesting fact. The 1002 WTMi has the draft 802.11n Wi-Fi support. This new standard offers a substantial speed increase over the existing 802.11a/b/g standards. The drawback here is that your entire infrastructure equipment has to be 802.11n ready. Hence while the future-ready N standard being present is good it might be a while before you can take advantage of it. Apart from the new draft standard, everything else was standard with the presence of Bluetooth 2.0, a 1.3 MP Webcam and a Bluetooth based VoIP phone that can interface with Skype or MSN internet calling.
|Model||Acer Ferrari 1002 WTMi |
|Processor||AMD 1.6-GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-50|
|Memory||512 M B DDR2 (533 MHz)|
| Optical Drive ||DVD Super Multi Double Layer: RAM R/W 2X, CD/DVD Read 6X/24X, CD-R 24X, CD-RW 10X, DVD-R 4X, DVD-RW 2X, DVD+R 4X, DVD+ RW 2.4X|
| Video Graphics ||ATI Radeon Xpress 1150 256 MB|
|Monitor||12.1" Inch (1280x800)|
| In-Built Speakers||Built-in High Definition Audio compliant audio chip, |
Built-in speaker and microphone
|Connectivity||10/100/1000 Network Card, 56k Modem, 802.11 b/g/n Wireless LAN|
|Battery||3 cell Lithium Ion /6 Cell Lithium Ion|
|Interface||1 x Type II PC card |
1 x VGA port 15-pin for external monitor
1 x Headphone-out jack (SPDIF)
1 x RJ11 Modem jack for phone line
1 x RJ45 LAN Jack for LAN insert
3 x USB 2.0 ports, 1x IEEE 1394 port
1 x Infrared Port
|OS||Windows XP Professional SP2|
|Additional Features||Carrying bag, Bluetooth VoIP phone, 1 6X DVD+/-R External|
|Price||Rs. 1,10,000 plus taxes (4-7% extra)|
Our performance tests of the 1002 WTMi was done in two parts. Our first test consisted of synthetic benchmarks namely PCMark 2005, 3DMark 03 and 06. The results we got from these tests left us terribly disappointed in the 1002 WTMi. On PCMark the system was barely able to limp an awful score of 2414. This is well below the performance that is offered by competitors and really needs to be looked into. A better graphical subsystem and a speedier processor would indeed help.
After seeing the performance of the system overall, we had no real expectation from the Radeon 1150 chipset. It failed the 3DMark 06 test consistently and was not able to finish a single cycle of the tests. It did finish the 3DMark 03 test which is a lot more forgiving on today’s hardware as compared to 06. The score we got from 3DMark 03 was an embarrassing 1145.
On our battery tests which made up the second part of our tests the laptop also didn’t do too well. Though the laptop ships with 2 batteries a 3 cell and 6 cell batteries both were just not up to the task. The 3 cell battery was barely able to average 75 minutes while the 6 cell battery was able to give only 182 minutes. Both of these figures on an average are about 1 to 1 ½ hrs less compared to the competition. On an average most ultra-portable are easily about to achieve 4 ½ to 6 hours.
For our final tests we checked out the webcam and the provided Bluetooth VoIP phone. The inbuilt webcam while being a 1.3 MP did not have good performance. The image was dark and blotchy with slow refresh rates. This added a lag in the video that was being recorded. The VoIP phone on the other hand was a surprise. We checked it with Skype and found it to be as good as a mobile phone. There was no hissing or static in our conversations.
Overall the Acer Ferrari is a disappointment. Unlike its competitor the Lamborghini VX1 which had great system performance, the Ferrari is slow, is handicapped by a bad graphical subsystem and offers mediocre battery life. Priced at Rs. 1.10 Lakhs we don’t recommend this product at all.