Date Joined: 08/28/02
Pros: Lightness and portability
Trackpoint (for some)
Being plastic, the screen bezel is a bit flexible, but the screen seems well-protected. The screen image isn't distorted when the angle is adjusted, and it takes a concerted finger poke to disrupt the LCD. The case is quite rigid, and the keyboard seems springy and durable. I like the finish personally, and can accept a lesser degree of thinkpad perfection for the accompanying weight reduction benefits.
Cons: No HDD activity LED
Power port placement (due to battery)
The monitor does have a mild 'screen door' effect at certain viewing angles, but it's not terribly jarring or even easy to detect. Otherwise the screen is bright, colorful and has good contrast. It's not going to win any color reproduction awards either, but it works well, has good horizontal viewing angle, and seems to be efficient.
I'm a bit annoyed with the fact that they can wire up an LED to the "i" in "ThinkPad" on both the case and screen, but they can't give me a HDD activity light, or a charging status light. Some things should simply be there as a matter of course. The placement of the mic is also dubious, it being where your hands naturally rest while using the machine...
Overall Review: Firstly, this is a laptop I carry to class every day. I use it to study, write papers, and watch streaming video for web classes.
For my purposes, I don't think there is a better option for these categories under $800. For my purposes portability and versatility are most important. Gaming graphics and HD video aren't important to me.
Something others haven't mentioned: this has a very compact power supply as well, which helps in the portability factor. One caveat though is that it gets quite hot when charging whether the system is running or not... like, can't hold it in your hands hot. The practical upshot is that it charges the battery very rapidly. About 1.5 hours from 25%. Never discharge your laptop battery below 25%. I get about 6 hours of normal usage from that upper 75%. Which is simply glorious to me, for such a capable machine.
I think the battery is fine with the rapid charging, as it gets only barely warm, so it should last quite a while.
Pros: Runs cool
Can take up to 2.1v according to the EPP profiles
Cons: 667 base profile in SPD
Overall Review: Mine's running happily at 880mhz, with 4-4-4-12 timings, 1T command on 1.95v. That's good enough for me! There might be more overhead, but I try not to push my luck. Sure, if you're not able to tweak those settings or use EPP profiles, you're stuck with 667... But why buy performance memory then?
Pros: Does what I wanted it to do
Lots of wifi options
Only consumes ~7 watts of power
Cons: Only works for about 6 hours at a time for me
Antenna isn't removable/upgradeable
Only supports newish EVDO modems
Overall Review: With my USB720, the device loses the EVDO connection around every 6 hours, until I can walk over and reset it. It may just be that my particular modem disconnects more frequently or malfunctions at this rate, but the router just tries to reconnect endlessly until it's reset. Since this isn't returnable for a refund here, and the problem is currently listed as a known issue on Netgear's site "Router sometimes does not recognize modem malfunction and does not try to re-establish internet connection. Workaround – eject and re-insert modem." I'm stuck with this problem, and an expensive device sitting in a box until netgear can sort out their firmware.
Currently there are 8 unfixed, known issues listed on Netgear's site regarding the firmware for this device. I am disgusted when I'm unwittingly used to beta test firmware for an unfinished device that I've paid for. For that, It's unlikely that I'll purchase any Netgear products in the future.
All cables included
It's nice looking, even when turned off
Great contrast, and good color dynamics
Cons: gimmicky touch controls
minor backlight bleeding in the top and bottom center of the screen
A little lazy at waking up out of standby, and starting up after powering off.
Overall Review: It really looks like it cost a fortune, and the 1080P resolution at this size gives you a really tight dot pitch, and a wonderfully useable resolution. I'm astonished at how affordable this screen is for the value it presents. Don't fret about the response time, it's a real value, and it works perfectly for FPS gaming and movie watching.
Pros: Very small, even for a M-atx case
Takes a standard ATX power supply
Seems fairly rigid
More attractive in person
E-SATA on front panel
Light weight for a steel case
Cons: Annoyingly bright blue power LED
80mm fan in 90MM slot
No buzzer or reset, but I don't miss them
No front intake fan slot
Overall Review: Some may complain about the need to use screws to install things, but I personally prefer them. Honestly, I'm not swapping components in and out of a machine this small. I have big ugly server cases for those sorts of machines. I bought this case to be my always-on machine to live on my desk next to my also shiny monitor. I find that I have trouble installing card readers or getting drives to line up properly with most forms of screwless drive bay arrangements. I can operate a screwdriver.
Additionally: I had no trouble installing a hard drive in the vertical bay provided. Be it not for the card reader I used, it would be no trouble to install up to four standard hard drives in this case. Does anyone even own a floppy drive anymore?
Specs for the price
Options for the price
Good keyboard for a 14" laptop
Cons: Heats up a little
Broadcom wifi chipset
Overall Review: I've seen reviews for this laptop talking about screwy displays or screaming fans, dying hard drives and all the like. I suspect people are rating them poorly so they can keep getting good deals on them. The screen is nice by my reckoning, it's colorful and bright, it is 14" but the price you pay in size you get back in detail and dot pitch. Viewing angle isn't stellar, but it's not horrible.
Mine, at least, is quiet, has a nice crisp (shiny) display, and seems to have not exploded yet.
Watch out for that broadcom chipset if you're looking at switching to XP. The Acer Europe site has the drivers listed much more coherently, but every acer site seems to have the wrong driver for XP on the wifi chipset. Go with omegas for display drivers too, and you should be in the clear.
Pros: Features! This board is loaded. You won't find more options and goodies for the dollar.
4-phase power, solid caps on PWM
Stable at default speeds, attractive looking
Superior onboard GPU that runs nice and cool with the low-profile heatsink.
Cons: Watch out if you don't want to use Vista.
XP drivers didn't install from the CD. It was a PITA to track down the drivers online, and they didn't work either. The installer generated an undefined error with both versions. After mucking around for a few hours the drivers were finally installed, but the system acted buggy, with unexplained lagging, and randomly occurring access bogs over the SATA.
Apart from the problems I had with the chipset drivers (not really ECS' fault) the bios was just about useless.
Most of the overclocking settings were either described improperly, filled with meaningless numbers, or didn't work when enabled. This left me running at default speeds on a system I specifically intended to overclock. That coupled with the warnings I've already read about the bios released in May bricking the thing made me somewhat bitter towards this board.
Overall Review: Bottom line is that this seems like an immature product. If the chipset is going to support XP, they should do it properly and completely.
If the bios is going to support overclocking, the settings should work. With my X2-5000 BE not one different multiplier setting allowed the machine to boot. On a different board, multiplier adjustment worked perfectly.
I'm no rank amateur either. I've been building computers since before the invention of the ZIF socket, when memory timings were set with jumpers or DIP switches. I'm usually pretty good at deciphering engrish too, but this bios was unintelligible to me.
I might just hold on to this board until the next bios and chipset driver release. If those problems were fixed, this would be a fantastic deal on a board with a knockout chipset.
Pros: Aftermarket cooler, in my case it runs 45C idle, 57 loaded. Plus, when you pull the cooler off because it's noisy (and it is) it will fit on something else. The bracket has multiple screw holes for different cards. If you're not inclined to do that, the other good news is that there's room under the cooler for ramsinks, which the card can definitely use.
Factory OC is always nice, especially when the card isn't likely to overheat.
Like others have said, the card is slightly shorter than the norm, and has upgraded components. That alone sold me on it, versus the other cards offered here. Very few people consider the quality of the electrical parts on their video card's power supply, but anything that improves stability and increases efficiency is a definite pro.
Did I mention it's fast?
Cons: As mentioned above, the cooler is a little noisy. It's not a typhoon or anything, but it's definitely audible above my CPU cooler and 120mm case/PSU fans. It's really a quality part though.
Some video card OCing software reads the frequencies all wrong (Nvidia Ntune for one).
Overall Review: I bought this card for the upgraded electrical components, shorter overall length and the prospect of reusing the cooler it came with on a different card. I put the accelero S2 I had on my old card on this one, and this one's cooler on it (X1650XT). In the end, I saved $25, got a very nice card, and can still use my passive cooler. The cooler is too noisy for my personal system, which lives in my bedroom. If it had fan control, I wouldn't have felt the need to change it though.
Pros: Beautiful drive, ultra quiet just like my other Samsung, and a fair boost in performance to boot. Basically no bearing whine or seek noise at all.
Cons: It's a little heavy?
Pros: Excellent mouse, upgraded from an older MX mouse which was looking rough, but still working flawlessly after 3 years. Picked because it was basically the same shape and design as my old mouse, which was awesome.
Cons: Little pricey, but with something like your mouse that you have to use on a constant basis, it's worthwhile.
Overall Review: Does it ship from Timbuktu?
Pros: Awesome cooling. Dropped 10C idle AND under load from what I thought was a decent stock HSF with the fan direct wired to 12V. No need for a fan. It fits my X1650pro.
Cons: Cumbersome to install... I mean, I spent a solid hour fiddling with it, trying to find the tiny screw holes and keeping everything from sliding around on the die. In the end I used the included screws to hold it in place while I put it on with some others I had on hand with springs.
Mine came slightly bent so that the fins were touching some capacitors on the card. A little tweak to bend it fixed that, but I had to take it off the card to avoid screwing up the thermal interface, meaning that I had to install it twice.
As others have mentioned, the adhesive tape on the memory heatsinks is a little weakish, but mine have stayed stuck fairly well. Push on and twist slightly.
Overall Review: It takes a little work to get it installed, but once it's all together, it's totally worth it. Works hilariously well for a fanless cooler. Holding steady at 37C idle/50C loaded at the maximum stable (voltage-limited) overclocked speeds. Granted, my case has a 120mm intake fan that blows right on this thing, but you should have one too.