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Lou Vega a thump to the brain

Acer Aspire 9800



  • Awesome display (vibrancy, color, etc.)
  • Dual Hard Drives
  • Gigabit Ethernet


  • Perceived performance issues
  • Size, weight
  • Keyboard

Short Attention Span Review - "A nice looking box with some cool features but I'm not quite sold yet."



OK so I work in a capacity where as I change projects I usually get to give up my current PC/Laptop and get a fresh new one, which is specific for that project. I’ve gone through this for a few years now and usually I’m pretty stoked…after all it’s a built-in hardware refresh about once every 12-18 months or so.


This time around was no different…the first time I saw the new Acer Aspire 9800 that I was being told to use I thought “Wow” – I mean the thing is huge! More of a “slightly agile desktop replacement” versus your typical laptop. Now mind you I’m used to large laptops because the previous project’s/laptop’s were HP ZD7000’s, but this thing kinda dwarfs those with its 20 inch display.


As I’m being briefed on some of the specs, the “Wow” gets “Wowier” because the Aspire 9800 also sports dual hard drives (now I can have my VPC’s on a separate drive in the same box!) as well as a built in Gigabit NIC (sweet Gigabit to the desktop from my server rack!) and I went off to start setting up my new toy pretty happy. Things started to go downhill from there.


First thing that was glaringly obvious is that my handy Targus Notebook roller case which has served me so well the past few years is not large enough to hold this laptop. Come to think of it, there isn’t anything short of a small suitcase capable of carrying this thing. So for now the big piece of laptop sits at my desk in my windowless lab instead of coming home at night and on the weekends…because also this thing is just plain heavy.


As I continued to work with my new Acer, I also noticed some performance issues…not something I would have expected from such a beefy looking machine…like for instance double clicking on “My Computer” and waiting up to 15 seconds for anything to show up. I had suspected part of my sluggish performance was due to Acer’s “Empowering Technology” applet that launches every time you start the system…but who knows. All I know is for such a beefy looking machine the thing ought to perform better than what I’ve experienced…and mind you this isn’t bleeding edge, GPU intensive CAD or gaming, I’m just trying to use Visual Studio, Office, etc.


Another thing I quickly grew to dislike was the built in keyboard…not sure what it is about it but I just can’t stand it. Spent the first day on the laptop mistyping stuff left and right because my hands were misplaced on the monster. In the end I solved that problem by hooking up my Microsoft Wireless KB/Mouse combo which works quite nicely.


While this isn’t something I’m ready to tote around and work “mobile” with as some of my co-workers have done (one got quite a few stares when he opened it up in the waiting room at the hospital to work on some stuff…oh and he carries it in a rolling notebook bag with a pillow-case covering the end that sticks out of the top!) I haven’t given up completely on this laptop yet. I’ll likely restore it to factory configuration and try working from there to see if anything in my custom configuration/load plan is causing the perceived performance issues.


Incidentally I found out the Aurora m9700’s were considered for this project but the Acer 9800’s won out…I suppose if I had my vote I’d a picked the Aurora because 1) it looks cool in Conspiracy Blue, and 2) it’s a 17 inch laptop and I could keep my Targus Notebook roller….see I’m actually pretty simple to please!


P.S. If any Alienware folks happen upon this and want to send me an Aurora m9700 for review…just remember, Conspiracy Blue ;)

Posted on Saturday, October 28, 2006 10:05 PM | Back to top

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