Air, Auto, & built in CD-Player:
This feature I really like, the Acer 512T comes with
a built in CD-Player. In fact the computer has a built in PCI -
SoundBlaster compatible - 3D sound card, so things all around are good
sonically. Anyhow, the computer can play CD's in the CD-ROM while you are typing
away, and if you desire while the computer is off.
|Thats right, turn the computer off, turn on the "CD
player" - there is a small button on the front to power the "CD player"
- plug in the headphones and listen to your favorite music with the
computer off and screen folded down. The controls for the CD player
(standard >>,<<, >/|| and Stop/Eject) are all right up
front, and accessible with the screen panel closed. Acer even provides a
small LCD display to show track info and CD-player status. Three
audio jacks are located below the CD-players' LCD display, one for
headphones (or speakers), one for a mic, and one for audio input.
Incidentally there's also a built in mic at the top of the screen
A volume wheel is located just adjacent to the jacks, recessed
slightly, but not difficult to operate. The only problem I could see with the
CD-player controls is with the numbers on the volume wheel. They are
difficult if not impossible to read without tilting the computer up a bit. If
the volume control wheel was angled slightly upward, readability would be
measurably improved. Granted its a little thing, but turning on the computer and
having the windows chime accidentally ring out at a "10" volume got the
attention of everyone on this train.
The Acer 512T also has two built in computer speakers. Yup, a laptop that has
relatively decent speakers. The sound is not going to blow anyone away
with its quality or bass, but provides a fairly decent way to listen to a
CD or MP3 if no head phones are around. The sound is essentially bassless, and a
bit tinny, but satisfactory. Each little speaker has a metal grill over it,
which as I've already noticed can get pushed in quite easily. They look cool,
but lack the durability needed in a portable product.
Teeny Tiny Hard Drive:
Tiny in size, but packing 4.5GB (Ultra DMA) of space. There isn't really much you can say
about a hard drive... The Acer 512T's hard drive has been very reliable so far
during recent travels. Neither bumpy trains like this one, pressurized airplane cabins, nor
rough roads and sharp turns with bad drivers have been able to cause any
read/write errors I've noticed. The hard drive goes into powersaving mode after
a default time of three minutes to save battery life.
The TFT screen is bright and easy to read. The Acer
uses a 12.1" 800X600 pix TFT, with 24-bit colour capabilities. Software comes with the computer
that allows a standard monitor to be attached to the computer, with
dual or single display options. The keyboard has
keys for brightness, contrast and other general screen controls. The screen controls are software
driven, so if the OS has been reinstalled, they will have to be as
Placing the TFT screen side by side with a CRT screen it was
evident that whites were slightly pink in color on the Acer512T. However this is
not really noticeable during use, and was by no means a problem for me. The
official specs list a 256-bit NeoMagic 2200 AGP graphics engine with 2.5MB
SGRAM memory. Great video capabilities for a portable.
Lugging a laptop around like a book:
Moving the computer around is not something I would normally think of as
worth mentioning. However when I was moving this one around to different
areas with my other hand full of papers I realized the benefits of portability.
Yes a lap top is portable, but being able to move it around with one hand easily
while open is definitely a benefit not all models enjoy. I found I could
easily grab it in my right hand either by the CD ROM or by the bottom of
the screen and edge of keyboard. There is about an inch and a quarter of space
around the entire screen which makes positioning the screen (without
fingerprints on the TFT) straightforward. Balance is also quite even, so that no
matter what corner you hold it from, it stays balanced in the hand.
A standard feature on laptops these days is the sleep feature. Closing the
screen with the computer still on tells it to go to sleep. This feature works
well enough, allowing you to carry the computer and a pile of heavy books or
whatever somewhere, sit down and continue work from where you left off. That is,
opening the screen back up and within a few seconds, to about 45 seconds
(it depends on how long the computer was in sleep mode) you can continue right
where work was left off.