Ferrari 5000 - the first few days
Repeat disclosure: This article is about one of the Ferrari 5000's sent to Hive Featured Community owners and bloggers by AMD and Microsoft.
The Ferrari 5000 is a beautiful machine, and for somebody like me who is used to lower end hardware feels quite luxurious. There's not a wobbly button or rough edge to be seen. Unlike my other laptop, a lower end HP nx6120 which has had more than its fair share of problems, everything feels solid and well made on the Ferrari. The lid and lid hinges feel tight and solid and the touchpad's buttons have a nice resistance to pressure (unlike the wobbly plastic buttons on my HP). The casing is a very durable and beautifully finished carbon fibre, and the primary work suface has a lovely soft touch coating. The bluetooth mouse has been given the same soft touch treatment.
Anyway, as they say, beauty is only skin deep and a gorgeous, glossy casing and quality finish only gets you so far, even with the special red cloth for removing the inevitable fingerprints .
There will be plenty of other sites that concentrate on hardware specs and games performance, so let's look at how things go once the new car smell wears off and we get to work. First off, the Ferrari 5000 runs hot, and I mean HOT - so hot that the bluetooth mouse, which was sitting more than 15 centimetres away from the air vent on the right hand side of the Ferrari was quite warm to touch, and I became concerned that the varnish on my wooden furniture would be damaged by the heat being generated. There is little in the way of air vents on the bottom of the Ferrari 5000, and this machine is in serious need of cooling and better airflow, which it doesn't get. I ended up purchasing a Targus Chill Mat. The Ferrari is running a bit cooler now thanks to the increased airflow from the two fans in the Chill Mat, but this is still not a machine that I would leave running unattended overnight like I did with my old laptop.
The screen is a glossy CrystalBrite and is quite reflective, meaning that if you sit with your back to a window, you may have problems with reflections. Display resolution is set to the maximum of 1650 x 1080 making everything quite sharp, but also small. The screen reflections combined with the very high resolution led to me having a killer headache after the first day of use.
The Acer Voice Connection Manager for the VOIP phone kept crashing. Repairing the software via add/remove programs resolved that problem. Also, the bluetooth mouse stopped working a few times. Removing the mouse via the bluetooth hardware manager, then allowing it to be reinstalled, seems to have fixed that problem.
The Ferrari arrived in time for me to take it with me to Las Vegas, and there's nothing like getting out of the comfort of home to put a machine through its paces. So far, things are going well. The improved wireless security is comforting. When a new network is detected, the user is prompted to select from one of three security profiles - home (private), work (private) and public. Network discovery is automatically disabled for public networks which means that other computers sharing the same network cannot see your computer, and you cannot see them.
So far Vista has coped quite well with the sites and networks encountered. T.Mobile's wireless service worked beautifully. Cox Hospitality's wireless and wired hotel-based service proved to be problematic, but I suspect the problem is at Cox's end, not with Vista itself. My system would connect, and receive an IP address, but "network errors" prevented me from being able to finalise the wireless log-in and start surfing. Turning on network discovery got wireless going the first time (which I then turned off as soon as all was working) but when I woke up this morning and went to check my email the wireless was no longer working and I couldn't get it going. I'm working using a wired connection now - fingers crossed it doesn't die too.
Unfortunately, I could not get my CDMA wireless broadband working while I was still in Australia because the drivers for the Maxon Minimax USB CDMA modem are not compatible with Vista, and I could not get them to install. When I go bush in Australia I am going to have to use my old HP laptop for internet access because, apparently, there will not be any Vista support for the CDMA Minimax
So far there's only one other thing (apart from the heat it generates) that I don't like about the Ferrari - the speakers are terrible. My previous machine, the nx6120, sounds much better than the Ferrari. When I travel I rarely watch TV, preferring to use the music stored on my laptop for background noise, but the quality of playback in the Ferrari is not very good at all. I think I'm going to have to go out and get some speakers.
Overall I've been very happy with my move to Vista and the Ferrari laptop, but would be happier if I could get my Minimax working.