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WinLab Reviews
AcerNote Nuovo 971
Portable Packs Punch In Not-So-Little Package

-- by Jim Forbes

Notebooks like the AcerNote Nuovo 971 are the shape of things to come in full-function portable computing. You'll find a lot to like in the Nuovo, particularly if you need to deliver multimedia presentations or regularly connect to the Internet or other communications services.

Introduced last year, the Nuovo 971 comes with a 133MHz Pentium processor and an 11.8-inch active-matrix or 11.3-inch dual-scan passive-matrix color screen; I tested an active-matrix unit. It also features 16MB of RAM (expandable to 64MB), a 1.3GB hard disk, state-of-the-art video backed by 1.2MB of video RAM, a 28.8Kbps DSVD (digital simultaneous voice and data) modem, two PC Card slots (stacked vertically) and lithium ion batteries.

The Nuovo uses a NeoMagic video controller, which produces some of the fastest notebook benchmarks we've recorded running Wintune. Its NeoMagic controller and active-matrix display combination results in sharp images with great color.

Acer is looking ahead to the days when notebooks become portable teleconferencing workstations. This machine also builds in a microphone and good internal speakers.

The Nuovo's design incorporates ergonomic enhancements; the keyboard is a vast improvement over previous models. Keys have about a 3-millimeter throw, with very good resistance, and you can tilt the whole keyboard 0.4 inches or so when you open the unit. If you don't like the tilt, you can disable it with a sliding switch in the back of the unit.

The Nuovo's Synaptics touchpad, which has an integrated palm rest, controls the cursor. You can change the sensitivity of the cursor easily. Many notebooks' keyboard/mouse combinations become tiring or even painful with extended use, but I didn't have such problems with the AcerNote Nuovo.

The Nuovo surprised me with its long battery life, which in my tests averaged 5.1 hours with minimal power conservation and 5.6 hours with slightly more stringent settings. That's due partly to the use of lithium ion power cells and partly to its good design.

Like a handful of other new notebooks, the Nuovo ships standard with a 6X CD-ROM drive, a 28.8/14.4Kbps fax/voice modem and an infrared port. It has a great audio subsystem with an FM synthesis chip.

Acer has managed to satisfy me in almost every spec except size. The Nuovo is big. The notebook is also heavy, even for one so powerful. It measures 2.2 by 12.2 by 9.4 inches and weighs around 8 pounds with the CD-ROM drive. Those are real drawbacks, although the exceptional battery life and solid performance may compensate for them.

The Nuovo's performance truly deserves the word "solid." Its processor clocked 247MIPS on our Wintune benchmarks, on par with any high-end Pentium 133 notebook. Its video and 1.3GB hard drive turned in above-average scores: The video throughput was 9.63Mpixels per second, and the uncached disk throughput was 1.76MB per second. The Nuovo really shone in our applications benchmark suite, where it completed our Excel test in an average of 15 seconds, and our Word macro in 17.33 seconds.

These test results, coupled with the 970cx/971's feature set and relatively low price of $3,999, almost put the Nuovo on the WINDOWS Magazine Recommended List, but not quite. It simply weighs too much. Nevertheless, you might consider this as a desktop replacement system, as it is an excellent small- or home-office combination.

W Info File

AcerNote Nuovo 971
Price: $3,999
Pros: Performance; video; construction; best-of-breed battery life
Cons: Weight; lacks conventional on/off switch
Platforms: 95
Acer America Corp.
800-558-2237, 408-432-6200
WinMag Box Score: 4.0

Copyright 1997 CMP Media Inc.

(From Windows Magazine, January 1997, page 177.)