Daily Archives: December 27, 2006

Acer Ferrari 1000: The Unboxing

Bella woke me up this morning wanting to watch Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971). I’m on holidays so I thought why not, I climbed out of bed, grabbed a “blankie” and a pillow and zoned out on the couch while the movie rolled.

The Courier BoxBy about mid-way through the movie I was woken up by the door bell, since Nicola wasn’t up I figured I should shake off the snooze and answer it. At the door there was a courier standing there holding a medium sized box (I’m all about scientific measurements in the morning). Anyway – along the outside of the box the words “Acer” were printed – my dazed expression turned to a giddy smile.

Backstory: About mid-December I was contacted by Aaron Coldiron from the Windows Product Management Group and asked if I would like to try out an Acer Ferrari 1000 courtesy of the Windows Vista team and AMD (the Acer Ferrari has a Turion64 dual core processor and ATI graphics). I was interested in trying out the device mostly because I hadn’t used Vista on a 64-bit machine before and I hadn’t used an AMD processor in I don’t know how many years.

Anyway, I carried the box into the bedroom and woke up Nicola to show her the box (I know how to impress the girls). I then moved forward to the unboxing ceremony. The first step was to get rid of the courier box. Inside was a nice black box with Acer and Ferrari branding. I pulled it out and unwrapped it all.

The Real Ferrari 1000 Box

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Inside the box you get the following components:

  • Spare extended life battery; looking at the power consumption of this thing in full swing it’ll probably burn through the batteries pretty quick unless you fine tune the settings. My advice would be to kick it down to power saver when it is unplugged and turn the screen brightness down. Fortunately the keyboard has a quick access key for the Windows Vista power settings (Fn-F3). I ran the system off the batteries for about two hours until I found my US-to-Australian power converter.
  • Power supply; nothing to talk about here except that it was a US plug which had me on a downer until I realised that I had previously purchased a converter for another purpose – back in action!
  • Weird-VOIP PC card thingy; I haven’t tried this out yet, but it looks like a PC card that plugs into the laptop for the purpose of charging but allows you to take phone calls away from the device. I’ll probably do a blog post on this later to describe how it works and where I think it might actually be useful.
  • External DVD drive and cable; I hadn’t realised that this thing was missing an onboard DVD drive but after lifting the device up I am thinking that I could get used to the drive not being a regular component of the main machine (the laptop it self is very light). The drive connects via firewire which means that the remaining 3-USB ports are available for all the plug-in devices you might have.
  • Phone cable; does anyone use these anymore?
  • Anti-static screen cleaning cloth; I got one of these with my Tablet PC and I have to admit that they are quite useful with these high gloss screens (they tend to get finger marks).
  • Bluetooth mouse; most laptops don’t come with a mouse, well, not unless you pay extra for them. The nice thing about this Ferrari laptop is that it came with a decent mouse which was also Ferrari branded, so it looks the business. In fact the mouse wheel actually has a Ferrari tread on it (cute).
  • Pouches for everything; rather than a standard laptop bag the device came with a pouch which makes more sense for its smaller form factor. I can see this device fitting in my wife’s handbag with the pouch protecting the carbon fibre lid from scatches. One thing that probably needs a bit more thought is places to put the smaller internal pouches once the device is actually in it (this is actually a common design flaw with vendor supplied laptop bags).

So that is the unboxing. I’ve now tuned on the device and have started to get a feel for it but I will be following up with a more detailed post on how various parts of Vista work with the Ferrari but for now a few final physical observations.

  • The integrated camera is a 1.3 mega pixel which can actually rotate to point towards the user out out to the rest of the world.
  • I like the metal buttons on the trackpad, it actually looks like a razor edge.
  • When you turn the machine on a series of red veins on the top actually glow.
  • The texture of the plastic inside the device is a bit weird, it feels almost like it is velvet.
  • The screen does 1280×800 resolution which is pretty good for a consumer grade laptop of this size, and the image on the screen is bright and crisp, possibly due to the high gloss finish on the screen.

Well – thats it for now, you can check out the rest of the photos up on Flickr check back later on for a more detailed investigation of how well the device goes with Windows Vista and Office 2007. My wife is an expert Vista-novice so I will be enlisting her help to try out all the features.

P.S: From the desk of Loki . . .

045OK – so this is the first time that someone has sent me a device to review, and even though I am a pretty active blogger I thought it was pretty weird. However, it now looks like I am a participant in a viral marketing campaign called the “Vanishing Point” game. Along with the laptop came a letter “From the desk of Loki” with the following text:

You are now a decoder. There are only a few like you, but thousands more are looking for you. Find the other decoders before Zero Hour. Go to: www.vanishingpointgame.com

A spectacular adventure is on the horizon…. can you find it before it disappears?

-L

P.S. I’ve hidden something in a puzzle box for you. Find the box, find the way to open it?

After reading the letter there was a knock at the door (spooky) and our neighbor delivered a box, presumably the courier must have thought it was for them (we live on a split block). Inside the cardboard box was a wooden trick box which took me a few moments to open up. Inside was another copy of the letter and a USB memory stick and on the stick were three files:

  • Cipher Key 4.jpg
  • from_Loki.txt
  • Loki.wmv

I have uploaded the video to Soapbox on MSN Video under the tag of “vanishing point”. I am uploading from an ISDN connection so progress is slow. Anyway – I am off to find fellow decoders and crack some of the puzzles!

Update: Folks have requested that I post up the cypher key image. As you can see the key is not a new one as I’ve seen it posted on the Internet is a few other locations – thanks to those who referred me to http://vanishingpointwiki.com.