A by-product of Acer's sponsorship of the Ferrari F1 team, the Acer Ferrari 4000 will turn heads with a matte black carbon-fibre case, a prominent rearing stallion Ferrari logo and accents of race-car red. Looks aren't the only similarity between the laptop and the sports car, however: at £1,199 (as of August 2005), the Ferrari 4000 costs significantly more than the competition. Still, if you have the need for speed, the Ferrari 4000 will leave lesser notebooks in the dust -- although you may look like you're having a mid-life crisis.
Built with lightweight materials, the 2.85kg Ferrari 4000 occupies the middle zone between thin-and-lights and desktop replacements. It's a few grams heavier than the Toshiba Satellite M35X, but much smaller and lighter than the Qosmio G20 Media Center laptop. Measuring 363 by 34 by 265mm, the Ferrari 4000 is thinner than both the Satellite and the Qosmio. Add in the Ferrari 4000's large, 500g AC adaptor, and you have a system that's portable enough for the occasional trip but too heavy for regular travel.
While we like the Ferrari 4000's large keys and sturdy keyboard, the slightly curved ergonomic layout took us a while to get used to. The laptop's wide touch pad matches the large mouse buttons. A central button controls scrolling and Web browsing. Above the keyboard are four instant-start buttons that can be programmed to launch the applications you use most frequently.
Among the Ferrari 4000's strengths is its attractive 15.4-inch wide-screen display, with a 1,680x1,050 native resolution. While we prefer the brightness and contrast on the HP Pavilion dv4000's shiny screens, the Ferrari 4000's display is among the richest and sharpest we've seen. It's a shame the Ferrari 4000 lacks an instant-start media player and dedicated controls for playing videos.
The Ferrari 4000 is also strong on connections for both work and home uses. With four USB 2.0, unpowered FireWire, S-video, VGA, and -- something of a rarity on laptops -- DVI ports, as well as headphone and microphone jacks and a Bluetooth radio, this machine can connect to a variety of peripherals. You also get a slot for Type II PC Cards and an excellent flash card reader that supports Secure Digital, MultiMediaCard, Memory Stick, and even tiny xD modules. The Ferrari 4000 can race online via modem, Ethernet or an 802.11g Wi-Fi radio, which, in our casual tests, was able to stay online approximately 30m from our base station. The machine also features a great, slot-loading, multiformat, double-layer DVD burner.
In addition to Microsoft Windows XP Home (Professional is available for an extra £90) and a handful of Ferrari-branded desktops and screensavers, the Ferrari 4000 comes with a few useful utilities, such as Acer eManager for viewing or changing basic system settings.
Though the Ferrari 4000 ships with a 2GHz Turion 64 processor, our preproduction unit ran a slightly slower, 1.8GHz Turion 64 ML-34 processor. Otherwise, our review unit is identical to the model currently available, with a quick, 5,400rpm 100GB hard drive, 1GB of slower, 333MHz RAM and the latest ATI Mobility Radeon X700 graphics processor.