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Acer 1410 review

P1020390Here it is: Acer’s very own netbook killer. Hmmm…that doesn’t sound right, after all Acer is the number one seller of netbooks globally. Nevertheless that’s what I believe we’re seeing here and kudos to Acer for giving consumers more options, although to be fair at $449 the 1410 is pricier than a typical netbook.

What makes the 1410 (sold elsewhere as the 1810T) stand out from the netbook crowd? It’s running an Intel Core Solo Ultra Low Voltage (ULV) processor giving superb battery life and decent horsepower, just like the recently released MSI X340 the Lenovo U350 and Dell Inspiron 11z (which actually has a weaker Celeron ULV) . Like those other laptops, the 1410 packs Intel’s GMA4500MHD graphics chipset which is HD capable. This new market sector of ultraportables is not yet named but I’ll call it DNP, or Darn Near Perfect, combining decent power, portability and great battery life.

P1020381Other notable specs include 2GB RAM (4GB max), 250GB hard drive and 802.11a/b/g/Draft-N WiFi. Including its six cell battery the 1410 weighs just 3.1lb and offers unplugged runtime of up to six hours according to Acer.

Look & feel of the Acer 1410

The 1410 sports an 11.6 inch screen so the laptop is pretty small, and although not super-thin at just over one inch thick, it feels slim enough. There’s the usual assortment of ports with the handy addition of HDMI, making it a snap to hook up the 1410 to a home setup for Netflix and the like, for those without an Xbox 360 or internet-enabled TV already serving that purpose.

The chassis feels just OK, with lots of shiny plastic covering the top surfaces. Overall it looks pretty nice. As with many of the recent slew of small plastic notebooks, if you treat them well they should stand the test of time.

There are accessible compartments beneath the 1410 which bodes well for tinkerers, just be careful of those warranty conditions!  I also liked the dedicated hardware buttons for turning wireless connections on/off, which is far preferable to the function-key or software implementation on some other laptops.

Playing around with the Acer 1410

The 1410 also sports Acer’s new Timeline style keyboard. The keys are big, although there’s not much travel and there is a fair amount of flex, but I found it easy to use accurately. The MSI Wind U100 still has the best keyboard feel in the small laptop sector in my opinion.  The 1410’s trackpad feels good, and the dedicated left and right buttons are a welcome addition compared to the single bar adorning some modern day laptops.

Unfortunately the screen is a glossy one, which annoyingly reflects light sources making the screen difficult to see sometimes. The 1410’s screen is bright and perfectly usable though as long as the screen is positioned to avoid reflections. I understand that glossy screens look shiny on store shelves, but I’ve never met anyone who liked using them. Hopefully one day they will just go away and we’ll be back to the good ol’ days of matte screens which don’t reflect light so much.

The 1410 ships with Vista Premium, which felt perfectly snappy when moving around the OS.  I detected no significant lag in general operation and Windows Media Center opened faster than my Windows 7 version at home on my (very old) living room Pentium 4 single core PC.

Multimedia comparison between the Acer 1410 and the MSI X340

P1020395The 1410 has speakers somewhere in that case…let’s just say they’re not the powerful kind. Whilst not entirely unexpected, headphones or an external connection are necessary to get the best out of the 1410. The MSI X340 has more powerful speakers from my time with that laptop.

One of the selling points of the 1410 is it’s GMA4500MHD graphics chipset which promises HD video playback. So I tried the Coral Reef Adventure clips from Microsoft’s HD content showcase. The 1410 handled a 720p clip with no problems, just like the MSI X340. It is really really difficult to see the difference between a 720p and a 1080p clip on an 11.6 inch screen, but for the record the 1410 played the 1080p clip of the same content perfectly. The X340 slowed to an unwatchably slow frame-rate on the 1080p clip.

Is the Acer 1410 a keeper?

My overall impressions of the 1410 are extremely positive. It’s netbook sized, but has the horsepower to handle HD video and the battery life to go the distance on a decent length flight. It’s the best of this new breed so far in my opinion; it bests the MSI X340 on video performance, the Dell Inspiron 11z on raw power and pretty much anything decent on price. I have a feeling this could be a big seller for Acer.

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

Aug 28, 2009 Posted by | Computing, Hardware, Mobile, Reviews | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s Official: Xbox 360 Elite Down By $100

P1020369

Now’s the time to get l33t.

Can’t stop tho, I’m on a deadline to get thru

GOW2

because the countdown to September 22nd is well underway…

ODST

Gotta go!!!

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

Aug 27, 2009 Posted by | Gaming, Hardware, Microsoft, News | , , , | Leave a comment

Cheaper PS3 Still Too Expensive To Worry XBox 360

Hmmm…$299 for the lowest PS3 in the range a number of years into the current Wii/PS3/Xbox 360 cycle. Well it’s a start I guess, but let’s not expect it to turn the XBox 360/PS3 balance on its head anytime soon.

At $199 the XBox 360 arcade is still the obvious choice for the recession conscious consumer and it comes with access to a huge selection of games compared to the PS3. The Wii continues to be the broad-based family-fun choice. With many of Sony’s businesses languishing, is it really the right time for its cheapest PS3 to still be a Benjamin more expensive than the cheapest XBox 360?

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

Aug 20, 2009 Posted by | Analysis, Gaming, Microsoft, News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Zune HD vs Rumored iPod Touch with Camera

Oh how I remember the good ol’ days. In those times of listening to hacky MP3s on my laptop and then cellphone, the iPod was nary a wee twinkle in main street’s starry night dreams. Fast forward to 2009 and the iPod skipped over the original MP3 pioneers to become THE portable media platform. What iPod says goes.

Meanwhile the Zune family has been making the chase at least interesting and at best competitive. The Zune HD is raising the technical bar with its Tegra processor and 720p-capable screen. Does that mean anything? On a 40 inch screen, yes. On a 4 inch screen, no most consumers wouldn’t care for the difference in quality. Remember one of the reasons Sony’s MiniDisc format failed was that most consumers were happy with cassette tape recording quality.  The iPhone’s technically poor camera is now the most popular on flickr.

Back at Cupertino, if the rumors come true then a new iPod is coming to the Christmas Tree this year and it will take video of you opening the rest of your gifts. This of course you will probably be able to upload to YouTube with a couple of gestures. Someone with the Zune HD will be pointing out how much more detailed their screen is compared to other players, and the person he’s talking to won’t be able to perceive the difference on the tiny screen.

This is one of the reasons why Apple’s iPod family consistently bests the competition on main street, and if the rumors are true then I think the camera-equipped iPod Touch would bury the Zune HD in sales figures. A Tegra powered 720p capable portable media device is a technical masterpiece and I’m full of admiration for that accomplishment. An affordable quality media player with a video camera and YouTube upload capability would simply be instant fun though. I’m thinking of trading in my video camera already…and this thing’s only a rumor!

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

Aug 19, 2009 Posted by | Analysis, Apple, Hardware, Microsoft, Mobile | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dell’s Inspiron Z Is Another Nail In The Premium Ultraportable Coffin…Netbooks Under Pressure

Inspiron 11zThe premium ultraportable sector has become even less viable recently with the announcement of Dell’s Inspiron Z range. This not-netbook-not-premium-but-some-ideal-product-in-between sports Intel’s increasingly admired CULV processor range with crayzeee battery life.

Starting from 11.6 inches the range mimics Acer’s recent and well received Timeline series. This growing new sector of cheap and HD-capable ultraportables are rapidly turning premium ultraportables into a hard sell. I recently saw MacBook Airs selling for $899 at a well known Internet retailer. I still haven’t met any Adamo owners.

Will the netbook also perish at the hands of these seemingly perfectly balanced product offerings? Whilst $400 buys a solid netbook, $450 buys an Acer 1410T with a 1.4GHz CULV Core Solo, onboard HD-capable graphics and mega battery life. So, can the netbook really continue in its current form?

We know the sector will survive due to the development of Intel’s Pineview platform, which will lead to Atom 2.0. But sheesh, the margins in Netbooks are starting to look ever thinner as the CULV-powered ultraportables force netbooks towards the $300 mark.

At long last cheap, powerful and all-day-capable ultraportables are available to the mass-market. If we lose some netbook and premium models as a result, I won’t shed too many tears. They are making space in the market for well-balanced products.

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

Aug 17, 2009 Posted by | Analysis, Hardware, Mobile, News | Leave a comment

Will Apple build the tablet I want?

As rumors of an Apple tablet build into a frenzy, it’s hard to believe the grapevine story that a 10 inch device would be at its best running iPhone OS. Yet in Apple terms it makes perfect sense.

You see from my perspective, the iPhone OS is crippled by its lack of multitasking. We can see from the sales figures that most consumers probably don’t care.

From my perspective, the lack of a physical keyboard on the iPhone limits its use. The lack of a physical keyboard on a ten inch tablet could severely cripple it. Most consumers again probably don’t care, because they might primarily use it for media, fun apps and short messaging with the likes of Twitter, Facebook and occasional email.

From my perspective having a closed system where someone else decides which applications you can or cannot use is horrific. Most consumers probably don’t care and enjoy the feeling of pseudo quality control in the ecosystem.

So is Apple going to make the tablet that I want? No, it will make the one regular consumers want…and that’s why iPhone sales are so strong.

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

Aug 14, 2009 Posted by | Analysis, Apple, Computing, Hardware, Mobile, Rants | , , | Leave a comment

Adamo Design Moments

So yes, I was a bit disturbed by the Dell Adamo’s recent meager price cuts…but that’s only because it’s still so freakin expensive.  Anywho as its affordability improves and to remind you of why it still costs soooo much in the interests of being fair, here are some up-close-and-personals:

Adamo 2

Adamo 4

Adamo 3

No doubt, it is a expensive beautiful work of art.

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

Aug 8, 2009 Posted by | Computing, Hardware, Mobile | | Leave a comment

The App Store Shenanigans Continue…

Another day, another hilarious Apple App Store Story.  This time it’s a censored dictionary.

I say keep ’em coming, the most talented comedian couldn’t write this stuff.

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

Aug 5, 2009 Posted by | Analysis, Apple, Mobile, News, Rants, Software | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

MSI X-Slim: Time for a Slimmed-Down Price?

X340With Acer’s well-received Timeline series already seeing decent discounting, pressure must be mounting upon MSI’s X-Slim range.  Even though the X340 appears to be good value for its handsome exterior and light weight, it’s around $200 more expensive than Acer’s 3810T.  Even without the 3810T standing by, it’s hard to imagine the X340 selling well at such a high price given its mediocre press reviews.

At the time of writing there are still only four mixed consumer reviews on NewEgg, whilst the 3810T has nine.  Even worse for MSI, the SSD version of the 3810T costs the same as the typical $799 street price of the X340.

Let’s see a price cut MSI, or perhaps at least a 2.0 with a better keyboard?

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

Aug 3, 2009 Posted by | Analysis, Computing, Hardware, Mobile, Rants | , , , , | Leave a comment

Space: The Final Frontier for the Healthcare Debate

NimoyWhilst the debate rages throughout the country, a lone voice of logic tells us how it could be.  Nimoy, speaking today at the East Coast Star Trek Con: “On the Enterprise everyone gets healthcare.”

Live long Leonard, and beam me directly to sickbay.

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

Aug 2, 2009 Posted by | Other Stuff | , | Leave a comment

   

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