Mobile Roundup: A Trio of Midrange Laptopsby Jarred Walton on September 17, 2008 3:00 AM EST
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Acer 6920G - Overview
Acer has been around pretty much since time immemorial, so if you haven't heard about them yet we might have to strip you of your geek card; hand it over and no one gets hurt…. Seriously though, I remember inheriting my dad's Acer 386 in the mid-to-late 80s. It did pretty well at running Wing Commander and it had a massive 70MB hard drive that occupied two 5.25" drive bays... but I digress. Flash forward to today, and Acer makes a variety of displays, notebooks, and computer systems that are available worldwide. They are one of the top five PC vendors in the world, and they recently acquired Gateway. Acer products definitely cater more towards users looking for a decent product at a reasonable price. They may not be the best/fastest option out there, but most users are reasonably happy with their purchases (judging by Newegg reviews as well as personal experience).
Today we're looking at the Aspire 6920G, a multimedia laptop from Acer. Since there are several different models, however, we need to clarify that we are reviewing the 6920-6422. All of the 6920 laptops look the same, but they have different features. The various models have differing processors, either integrated X3100 or discrete 9500M GS graphics, DVDR or Blu-Ray optical drives, and a WXGA (1366x768) or FullHD (1920x1080) display. What is likely to be one of the major selling points of these laptops is their use of a true 16:9 aspect ratio, which theoretically makes them a better fit for multimedia use. We'll discuss that a more in a minute.
In terms of appearance, the 6920G makes an interesting first impression. The change in aspect ratio along with a 16" rather than 17" or 15.4" diagonal isn't something we've seen before. We were generally pleased with the appearance, but after using the laptop for a while we felt some of the decisions tended to be a case of form over function. The LCD cover has a rounded surface that ends up making the laptop thicker than it needs to be. Also, the hinge looks unique, but in practice we would prefer a more traditional design. When you open the lid, part of the top panel rotates down across the entire back of the laptop. Perhaps some will feel this is more aesthetically pleasing than a traditional hinged notebook, but we prefer that style over this aspect of the 6920G. One interesting feature to point out is that the rounded rear hinge also functions as a sort of subwoofer. Acer calls this their "Tuba CineBass booster", and it does seem to improve bass response over regular notebooks.
Dismantling the Aspire 6920G is relatively simple, as you can see from the above image gallery. You can access two compartments on the bottom of the laptop. In the top-right area are two mini PCI expansion slots, one of which holds a wireless networking adapter. The main compartment is secured by six screws and provides access to the single 2.5" SATA hard drive bay, the SO-DIMM slots, and the CPU and GPU. Exchanging the memory or hard drive is extremely easy - not that it's likely you'll need to do so, since the laptop comes with 2x2GB of memory. (Unfortunately, it only ships with a 32-bit version of Vista.)
If you want to exchange CPUs, that is also possible, although it requires a bit more work. You'll need to disconnect the wires for the WiFi card and route them back through the case, along with a second set of wires that connect to the DC power input. These wires are taped into place at several points, so you'll need to remove the tape as well. With the wires out of the way, first remove the fan (three screws) and then remove the two retention mechanisms that hold the heatsinks in place (four screws). Finally, carefully pry up the two heatsinks that are held in place by thermal paste, and then with a bit of finagling you can remove the heatpipe/heatsink cooling mechanism. Note that this is one large unit rather than two separate heat pipes/heatsinks, so it has to come out in one piece.
Like most notebooks with NVIDIA graphics, the GPU sits on a standard MXM module. Wouldn't it be great if you could upgrade that in the future? Yeah, we think so too, but so far that appears to be a pipe dream. At least you can upgrade the CPU without too much difficulty; the current Aspire 6920 notebooks support 667 and 800 FSB Core 2 Duo processors.
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JarredWalton - Thursday, September 18, 2008 - linkNot that it really matters since they're all pretty slow, but the HD 3470 is about half the performance of the HD 2600 and 8600M GS. Like I said in the review, though, if you really care about graphics performance you'll want a lot more than even the 8600M/HD 2600 (or 9600M/HD 3600).
Personally, the minimum configuration I'd go with on the T400 ends up at around $1350 - because the 80GB default HDD is way too small for me. I personally think the Thinkpad laptops work well but look pretty dull, but build quality has always been good on the systems I've seen/used. I'd love to get one for testing (and in particular I'd like to test the LCD - I've heard some models even have S-IPS panels, but maybe that was only on some of their previous laptops when they were still IBM), but so far no luck there.
Voldenuit - Thursday, September 18, 2008 - linkThe T60p had an S-IPS panel, as did several other earlier models. The current crop of T400/500/W500 use TN-Film. Notebookreview compared the screen on the T400 favourably against the S-IPS on the T60:
Bottom line, you shouldn't be doing colour-calibration sensitive work on a laptop in the field anyway, and if you're doing it indoors, you'd probably want an external display for the added resolution if nothing else.
strikeback03 - Friday, September 19, 2008 - linkThat review clearly shows that the TN screens still have along way to go to match the S-IPS in anything other than brightness.
And if you had a decent display on a laptop, why not use it for color-sensitive work? Lenovo is guessing people will with the new W700.
Voldenuit - Saturday, September 20, 2008 - linkBecause a typical laptop in the field will be subjected to various (changing) lighting conditions, so any colour calibration on the lcd will be moot. That and most laptop displays don't even give you the option to mess with the ICC profiles.
The W700 is not exactly "portable", so it is likely to stay anchored in an office.
The sad practical reality though is that practically no one is making S-IPS screens for laptops anymore (see the lenovo blogs on this issue), so we're stuck with TN-film until the market responds with a demand for higher quality panels.
Loknar - Thursday, September 18, 2008 - linkAcer will have to do a lot to win me over. My company bought hundreds and now they are piling up in the corner, defect just after warranty expired. The Acers I'm talking about are centrinos and recent core duos. The construction is terrible. Those currently in use by my staff crashes (from overheating) when programmers are compiling applications. When you shake them it feels like old plastic of 1980's Toyotas, and often there are loose bolts inside.
My company gave me are core2duo and I use it at home, removed the bottom casing and installed a cooling pad. It still crashes sometimes when my girlfriend plays tetris.
The battery life and LCD display may seem ok in this lineup. But it is still unacceptable for me, give me a lower spec MacBook anytime. I had to get as far away as Acer as possible and got a MacBookPro, but a simple MacBook would have satisfied my office needs.
Foxy1 - Wednesday, September 17, 2008 - linkDid anyone happen to catch the score of the OU/Washington game?
JarredWalton - Wednesday, September 17, 2008 - linkNo, but I did go see the BYU/Washington game in person. It was awesome watching the Cougars pull off the win at the end. Despite all the complaints from WA fans, it's worth noting that they had something like three penalties the whole game, they didn't get called for the blatant holds on 4th and 10 during the final drive, and the refs also didn't call the illegal forward pass with one minute remaining where the QB was a yard over the line of scrimmage. After such a demoralizing loss, it's hardly a surprise that they rolled over and played dead for OU.
Donkey2008 - Friday, September 19, 2008 - linkThere was no excuse for the unsportsmanlike penalty. BYU fans can point a finger at other calls (which apparantly only they saw) leading up to the touchdown, but the referee influenced the outcome of the game. End of story. UW should have been kicking an EP, not a 35-yard FG.
The more BYU fans try to deflect that fact, the worse it makes the call look. Just say "hey, it was a bad call. We got lucky" and the whole incident will be over.
JarredWalton - Friday, September 19, 2008 - linkOkay, TOTALLY 100% OFF TOPIC:
If you throw a ball 25 feet into the air after a TD, that's a penalty. The only people who think it was a "bad call" are WA fans or people that don't like BYU. If you think it's a "bad rule" that should be changed, fine, but that's a different debate.
I just loved Lou Holtz' commentary on ESPN: "He didn't throw the ball; he just raised his hands and the ball happened to be in them." LOL... That's as insightful as his repeated analysis of how great the Notre Dame team is always going to be.
Think I'm making this stuff up? How about a little physics to back things up?
http://www.truveo.com/Endzone-View-of-Locker-Throw...">hang time = 2.36 s - nope, he didn't just "toss it over his shoulder" (unless it mysteriously disappeared for 2.36 seconds)
The ball is stopped at the apex, which is half the time, so:
velocity final = vf = 0 m/s
time = t = 1.18 s
acceleration = a = -9.8 m/s2
Solve for distance (height) = d = ??
First use: vf = vi + a*t
vi = velocity initial
0 m/s = vi + (-9.8 m/s2)*(1.18 s)
0 m/s = vi - 11.564 m/s
vi = 11.564 m/s
Now use: vf^2 = vi^2 + 2*a*d
(0 m/s)^2 = (11.564 m/s)^2 + 2*(-9.8 m/s^2)*(d)
0 m^2/s^2 = (133.726096 m^2/s^2) + (-19.6 m/s^2)*d
-133.726096 m^2/s^2 = (-19.6 m/s^2)*d
(-133.726096 m^2/s^2)/(-19.6 m/s^2) = d
d = 6.82276 m
Don't know about you guys, but lofting a football 22.3843 feet into the air seems pretty "high" to me. That's the equivalent of throwing a football (at a 30 degree angle) around 25 yards - perhaps not the hardest he could throw it, but certainly not an "accident" or "toss".
Is the rule bad? Perhaps. If so, it's up to the schools to make the change, not the refs. If you want to blame someone other than Locker, don't blame the officials; blame PAC-10 and the other conferences that told the officials to clamp down on post-TD celebrations.
To reiterate: I was *at* the game. How many penalties went against WA? Three, two of which came on the final drive. (Okay, four if you count the offsides call on the final kickoff after their blocked PAT.) How many against BYU? Seven. This wasn't a dirty game, but WA didn't have a single false start or offsides called against them (there are always a couple), not a single hold (again, there are always a few of those), and yet they're going to blame the refs!?
Here's another completely blown call for you: one minute remaining, ball is on BYU's 41 yard line. Locker completes a pass to the 29 yard line for a first down... except he threw the ball from the 39 yard line (two *YARDS* over the line of scrimmage)!
Okay, that's the last I'm saying about this in the comments of a laptop review. Who in the heck brought up a football discussion anyway? Someone needs to get their priorities straight....
[END OFF TOPIC DISCUSSION]
bob4432 - Wednesday, September 17, 2008 - linkhow did you bench company of heroes? fraps? the built in test? some custom test?