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9/96 Reviews Systems: AcerNote Light

Listing of September 1996 Reviews

Acer Sets Pace with Portable Pentium

By Jim Forbes

A big company-Acer America-makes a solid little notebook computer. The Acer name may not ring a bell when it comes to portables, but the company has for years been successfully supplying notebooks to other vendors. One of Acer's latest offerings, the AcerNote Light, is a small, sturdy 100MHz Pentium performer featuring a good warranty and a slight set of shortcomings.

The AcerNote Light I tested had an 810MB hard disk, 16MB of RAM (8MB is standard) and a bright 10.4-inch dual-scan display linked to a Chips and Technologies controller with 1MB of video memory. The notebook has the usual ports-serial, enhanced parallel, two Type II PCMCIA slots, external video-and provides built-in 16-bit Sound Blaster-compatible audio with one internal speaker and jacks for an external microphone, line in and speakers. A 120MHz Pentium version of the AcerNote Light is also available.

Including its AC power supply, the total travel weight for this 1.8-by-11.7-by-8.5-inch notebook is 6.4 pounds. The AcerNote Light uses Duracell's smart battery technology, which helps it yield up to 3.0 hours of portable power using moderate conservation. The system manual provides clear instructions on maximizing battery life.

The AcerNote Light's screen lacks a degree of contrast, but it is bright and quite readable at its native resolution of 640x480. The lack of contrast adjustment seems to contribute to occasional cursor submarining-move it too fast and it momentarily disappears.

This notebook's controls are front-mounted, so they're easy to reach. There's also an LED display for the system status indicators. An especially nice touch is a one-button trigger to put the system into a battery-saving zero-volt suspend mode.

You can easily remove the Win95-key equipped keyboard if it requires service, or to upgrade the components below it. The AcerNote Light's cursor control is a trackpad mounted in the middle of its palm rest. The trackpad buttons are near the front edge of the case.

This notebook's PCI architecture enhances the performance of its video, processor and storage subsystems. Its scores on our Wintune tests were very favorable. The AcerNote Light's processor clocked 179.33MIPS, and its hard disk had an astounding uncached throughput of 10.0MB per second. Its video performance was also commendable, with a Wintune score of 3.5Mpixels per second. On our application tests, the AcerNote Light fared well, completing the Word macro in 40.33 seconds and the Excel macro in 28.67 seconds.

The AcerNote Light's other big surprises are its price-$1,999-and its three-year limited warranty.

--Info File--
AcerNote Light
Pros: Hard disk performance; price
Cons: Screen contrast; PCMCIA slot runs warm
Acer America Corp.
800-733-2237, 408-432-6200
WinMag Box Score: 4.0

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