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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

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Aug 28, 2009 - Posted by | Computing, Hardware, Mobile, Reviews | , , , , , , , ,

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