For my wife:
My wife’s old Gateway PC had seen better days almost two years ago. After a freak electrical storm that blew out her power supply the machine had never been the same. Anytime you tried to watch a video the machine would crash. Certain programs would still work great while others would hang the whole system. Couple this with two old 10GB hard drives and a desire to take some night classes in PhotoShop and Office and we have a situation ripe for a new computer.
- Acer Aspire T180
- AMD Athlon 64 X2 dual-core processor 4400+
- Genuine Windows Vista Home Premium
- 2GB (1GBx2) DDR2 SDRAM
- 320GB SATA hard drive, 7200RPM
- Double-layer DVD-Dual drive (DVD+/-RW)
- NVIDIA GeoForce 6100 and NVIDIA nForce 405 integrated graphics
- 56K modem
- USB keyboard and mouse
- It even came with a 19″ wide-screen TFT LCD
- 1440×900 native resolution
- 700:1 contrast ratio
- 150 degree horizontal viewing angle
- 135 degree vertical viewing angle
- VGA connector only
- 300 cd/m brightness
- 5ms response time
- internal speakers
It was one of those all-in-one big box deals. I found it at Office Max and I got lucky. The computer had been on sale the week before but it ended the day before I got there. I just happened to find one of the sale price tags that someone had missed when changing over so I got it at the sale price.
I had been driving all over town and most of the machines comparable to this one were between $100 and $200 more than the sale price on this one. Seeing a bargain I jumped on it. I also picked up the student edition of Office and Quicken. Every other piece of software she needs is already current. Her version of Office is Office 97 and our Quicken was downloaded years ago.
What about me?
I needed something to replace my old laptop. It too had seen better days. I have two batteries for it but neither one will hold a charge for a reliable period of time. Sometimes you can unplug it from the wall and walk across the house with it while other times it will turn off as soon as you pull the AC cord.
I replaced the keyboard once on it and the cable that feeds the power to the backlight was installed improperly at the factory and broke. I soldered it back together but there was not a lot of slack and that would break once a year. I tried to order a replacement cable but Gateway would not mail me one. Something along the lines of:
“We can only mail that part to a trained laptop technician.”
“I am a computer technician.”
“I’m sorry sir, it would void your warranty.”
“I’m out of warranty.”
“Would you like to order a new machine?”
I did find the part on eBay but I never ordered it.
This is the machine I got for myself:
- Compaq Presario F579WM Notebook PC
- AMD Athlon 64X2 Dual-core Mobile Technology TK-53 (1.7GHz, 512KB L2 cache, 1600MHz)
- Windows Vista Home Premium
- 1024MB DDR2 system memory
- 120GB (5400rpm) hard drive
- SuperMulti 8X DVD+–R/RW drive with Double Layer support
- 15.4″ WXGA high-definition BrightView widescreen display
- NVIDIA GeoForce Go 6150 graphics with up to 287MB total available graphics memory shared
- 802.11b/g wireless LAN
- Integrated 1-/100Base-T Ethernet LAN
- 2 USB 2.0 ports
- Integrated Altec Lansing speakers
Not a bad notebook for $600. I would have preferred a full 2GB of SDRAM or at least a machine with a single 1GB stick in it rather than both slots taken up with 512MB sticks. Another thing is that the notebook has three USB ports, is one of them not USB 2.0?
Here is the funny thing. I thought the Compaq would be the better machine because they merged with HP a while back, it’s not. The best machine is the Acer machine.
The Acer was a nearly clean machine when it started up. There was only one piece of bloat-ware installed. The Compaq was jammed packed with bloat-ware and free trial software! Not only that but the few pieces of Acer software are very unobtrusive, unlike the Compaq and it’s “in your face” system software.
Both machines came with a trial of Norton Anti-Virus. The Acer had a 90 day trial while the Compaq only offered a 60 day trial.
The display on the Compaq is better than the one on my old laptop but not by a whole lot. It’s viewing angle is no where near as good as the one on the Acer LCD. Anything close to 6″ left or right of the screen results in some color issues, not so on the Acer.
So, what’s my opinion on the Vista OS? So far it is not that bad. I love the gadgets on the side, if only the RSS reader was not tied to IE!
I’m also having a lot of trouble finding things. I had to change my mouse settings because the touchpad on my notebook was just too slow. It took me five minutes to find the mouse settings. I also had to change the workgroup settings to add them to our home network. That was another pain in the ass to change simply because I could not find it!
It is going to take me some time to find everything in the new control panel. They even renamed “Add/Remove Programs”!
The transfer utility also leaves a bit to be desired. After about two hours the 20GB of data on my wife’s machine was done transferring. We then had to install a few programs and point them to the old configuration files. While transferring the files from my old laptop the program fizzled in the middle. I’ll have to try it again tomorrow.
In all I am very pleased with the Acer machine and only moderately happy with the Compaq. I got what I paid for.