Acer Ferrari 3000LMi
At a Glance
Love Ferraris but can't afford them? Check out Acer's Ferrari 3000LMi, a notebook that, at $1899, is a bit more affordable than the famous Italian cars. Capitalizing on Acer's status as official PC supplier to the Scuderia Ferrari Formula One team, this thin and relatively light notebook is a sports car for your desktop. The lid and sides wear the Ferrari's trademark candy-apple red, and the Ferrari logo is emblazoned on the lid. When you boot up the notebook, it plays the sound effect of a race car zooming by, and the default wallpaper is a photo of a Ferrari topped by a snazzy white-on-black calendar. Acer throws in a matching red USB mouse and--to keep your Windows XP Home-equipped roadster looking good--a red cleaning cloth.
That's all fun stuff, but can the 3000LMi corner? Our review unit, equipped with a 1.87-GHz Mobile Athlon XP-M 2500+ processor, hummed to a PC WorldBench 4 score of 116, only slightly slower than the average mark posted by similarly configured notebooks we've tested. The 3000LMi comes fully loaded, too, with a four-in-one card reader and a fixed dual-format DVD burner on the right side, and four USB 2.0 ports in a row down the left, plus FireWire, S-Video-out, and parallel ports.
Behind the wheel, you'll have to navigate a few curves with the Ferrari's keyboard, which incorporates Acer's trademark 5-degree bow that supposedly keeps your hands ergonomically positioned as you type. The slight curve takes some getting used to, but the smart layout, the four programmable quick-launch buttons, and the touchpad with a four-way scroll make for comfortable typing and use.
The 15.1-inch screen has a native resolution of 1400 by 1050 and looks great when playing back DVD movies, but the 3000LMi's audio lacks horsepower: Sound was weak and flat. The battery could use a tune-up, too; it lasted just under 2.25 hours on a charge in our tests, a couple of hours less than the typical Pentium M-equipped notebook. One of the notebook's two RAM slots sits in a compartment under the keyboard, where you can't access it without voiding the warranty; the second is located in the more traditional bottom compartment, where it's easy to reach.
The 3000LMi's documentation is middling. The sole printed aid is a bare-bones getting-started sheet. A complete Acrobat manual comes preinstalled on the hard drive, but searching is limited to bookmarks and a menu command--far less convenient than a linked index.
If you're looking for out-of-the-ordinary style and you don't mind donning shades when the bright-red lid starts making your eyes hurt, you'll appreciate the 3000Lmi's flair.
Acer Ferrari 3000LMi
PC WorldBench 4 score of 116, 1.87-GHz Mobile Athlon XP-M 2500+, 512MB of DDR333 SDRAM, Windows XP Home, 15.1-inch active screen, 60GB hard drive, dual-format rewritable DVD drive, four-in-one memory card reader, built-in V.92 modem and 10/100 ethernet, 802.11g wireless, touchpad pointing device, 8-pound weight (including AC adapter and phone cord). One-year parts and labor warranty; free, unlimited, 24-hour toll-free tech support.