Christmas 2008, what a season!
Having been given mostly cash gifts this past Christmas, I was uncertain exactly what I should purchase, or even if I should purchase anything, especially in these turbulent economic times. By nature I am not a materialistic person, so I had to ask myself if I should stash my ‘booty’ away like I’d done in years gone by, or splurge on myself for once? Decisions, decisions!
As the first few days of 2009 crept by, a little voice in the back of my mind kept reminding me of the fact that another home PC would surely be a most handy appliance. Not only would it be handy, the voice reminded me, but given the fact my life circumstance finds me preparing legal documents for elderly family members (and others), and given the fact that the other machines in my home are in constant use, purchasing a new computer was almost a ‘no-brainer’ decision.
Now that I had made the decision to make my purchase, I was reminded of a small problem: a lack of available home work-space. As it turns out, my 1500 square foot home currently accommodates 5 people, 4 animals, 4 cars, and all the associated ‘stuff’ that go with. Again, in the ‘no-brainer’ category, came an obvious solution: a laptop computer.
So, I started window-shopping for a laptop. With respect to minimum features I was willing to settle on, I had made up my mind in advance: the machine I was searching for would be in the $500 range, and minimally have built in WIFI, an optical drive, and Windows XP. My desire for and ‘XP’ machine was driven mostly by comments I’d heard from others, with respect to how much the VISTA was ‘terrible’.
The very next Sunday, the local newspaper was, as usual, littered with sale tabs from what seemed to be every store in town. As I casually scanned through this mountain of mayhem, my attention was naturally caught by any and all stores advertising laptop computers. Sifting through the available options, it quickly became clear to me that my desire for a Windows XP machine was a fleeting one; the only machine I found available offering XP was the ‘ACER ASPIRE ONE’ machine. Although the ‘ACER ASPIRE ONE’ machine was unique in many ways, including having Windows XP installed, it did not offer the optical drive I wanted, nor was the screen of such a size that I could use. A cute machine to be sure, just not for me.
Scanning the ads, my eye caught a sale price on an ACER Extensa 4420 machine, offered through Office Depot. The machine offered everything I wanted, the only thing that made me apprehensive was the fact it came with VISTA home premium pre-installed. The machine retailed for $499, plus had a $50 mail-in rebate, which made the price right for me. My trip to Office Depot was short and deliberate (I don’t like to shop). After enduring the sales persons ‘push’ to sell me an extended warranty, service package, etc. etc.,, and after repeatedly telling the sales person, “no, thanks!”, I plopped down the base price, plus tax, totaling $537, and headed home with my new laptop. As my new machine and I have become more and more acquainted, I now realize what a bargain I have purchased.
For starters, this machine has a Dual Layer combination CD/DVD drive, an AMD Turion 2.0 GHZ 64×2 processor, 3 gig of RAM (upgradeable to 4 gig), and a 250 GIG Hard Drive. Couple this with built-in infra-red, built-in WIFI, a PCMCIA slot, an SD/multi card reader port, 4 USB ports, a firewire port, a built-in web cam, a built-in modem, 3-hour battery life, and a 14.1″ screen, this unit rocks! After removing the machine from the box and charging the battery, I was using it in minutes, and was effortlessly able to connect to my security-enabled Windows XP wireless network, as well as my old HP server-based printer.
For me, the concerns about using/learning VISTA were mostly unfounded. So far, I’ve been able to install a foreign language translation program designed for Windows 98 with no problem, and tweek the OS features and functional setting to work the way I want. As far as system stability, I’ve experienced no problems. I do find the placement of files to be somewhat perplexing, but this is to be expected, and is not much different from the learning curve required when I moved from using a Windows 98 machine to a Windows XP machine, i.e, and to coin a phrase, ‘same thing, only different’! Worth mentioning: I am a ‘semi-computer geek’ kind of guy, which helps, and also I purchased a copy of a book called Windows Vista Secrets, which I highly recommend.
Although I would rate this machine as a GREAT machine, there are some (mostly minor) annoyances and areas that could use improvement, as outlined here:
1) The machine did not come with any reinstallation/recovery CD’s/DVD’s (unlike my Dell). When I contacted ACER about having a VISTA reinstallation DVD sent to me, I was informed they would be happy to do this, for the price of $50. Worth noting: The machine DOES have the ability to create backup reinstallation disks, a much cheaper alternative. I suggest creating a set of these EARLY on into your new laptop experience.
2) The machine has built-in Blue Tooth capability, but the hardware was not included.
3) The built-in speakers are weak.
4) The keyboard feels ‘toy-like’ (at least in comparison to other Laptops I have owned/operated).
5) The built-in Web Cam is just that: by design the provided software does not allow video recording to the hard-drive. Worth noting: A free downloadable program from NCH software seamlessly solves this problem.
For more reliable information and reviews about this product, you can follow the link. The website provides all the features, designs, styles and even the current price of the product in the market. You can also see some feedback and reviews from the customers who bought the product. All of these information will help you in making decision in buying the right device for you.