I like to play with different laptops and am on a perpetual quest to find a laptop that fits my needs for carrying around campus and using in my studies. I’ve used a lot of laptops and the Acer Aspire 1410 I recently purchased from Amazon.com has left me more impressed than just about any other laptop I’ve purchased in recent memory.
The Acer 1410 lies somewhere between being a netbook and ultraportable. It’s not a netbook since it runs Windows Vista (netbooks run Windows XP), uses an Intel Core Solo processor (a netbook uses Intel Atom processors) and the 11.6-inch screen size is slightly bigger than the average 10-inch netbook size. The Acer Aspire 1410 also deserves better than to be called a netbook because it doesn’t have all the disadvantages most netbooks have — the keyboard is comfortable, the 1366 x 768 screen is awesome and higher resolution than any other $400 netbook, there’s an HDMI out port, the processor is more powerful than a netbooks and the overall fit and finish is better than the average netbook. But here’s the cherry on top of it all, the Aspire 1410 has a 6-hour battery life and 3lb weight to match the portability of a netbook. Indeed, the Aspire 1410 has all the characteristics of a netbook you actually want but does away with those characteristics that are undesirable.
Aspire 1410 system specs:
- 1.4GHz Intel Core2 Solo ULV SU3500 Processor
- Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 4500MHD
- 2GB DDR2 667MHz Memory
- 250GB SATA Hard Drive
- Acer Crystal Eye Webcam
- Intel WiFi Link 5100 802.11a/b/g/Draft-N
- Windows Vista Home Premium (SP 1)
- 6-cell Li-ion Battery (4400 mAh), 6-hour battery life
- 11.6″ HD WXGA Acer CrystalBrite LED-backlit Display
- Ports: 3 x USB 2.0, Headphone/Speaker/Line-Out, Microphone-in, VGA, HDMI, RJ-45 (LAN), SD card slot
- Dimensions: 11.22″ (W) x 8.03″ (D) x 0.87-1.18″ (H)
- Weight: 3.1 Pounds
The Aspire 1410t is a 11.6-inch screen thin-and-light laptop and in terms of footprint it’s just a bit smaller than a standard 8.5 x 11-inch paper notebook spiral. The exact dimensions are 8-inches deep x 11.2-inches wide x 1.2 inches thick (at its thickest point, it’s about an inch thin at the front where it is thinnest). The laptop weighs 3.1 lbs by itself, and with the travel cord it weighs 3.7 lbs. This weight means it’s very easy to carry around in a backpack, and light enough that you can clutch it with one hand and carry it around.
Weigh in for the Aspire 1410
Apple MacBook 13” and Acer Aspire 1410 comparison pictures
The Aspire 1410 comes in three different colors: Ruby Red, Sapphire Blue or Black. I have the Sapphire Blue color and it is certainly attractive in the light due to the glossy bright finish, the downside to the glossy finish is keeping the lid clean is next to impossible, it picks up fingerprints like a magnet.
Size comparison to an 8.5 x 11-inch textbook
Since this machine costs $449 you shouldn’t expect any fancy aluminum metallic casing or even a rigid and durable plastic case like you get on more expensive $1,000 – $2,000 ultraportables. Instead you get a thinner plastic case on the Aspire 1410, but it’s still got decent rigidity and on par or better than most netbooks. I wouldn’t want to drop this on concrete from any height, but so long as you treat the Acer 1410 with care it should last you a good long time. Finding a sleeve to put it in while on the go will afford extra protection when it’s in your backpack smashed between books.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The Acer 1410 keyboard is full sized and far better than most netbook keyboard I’ve used, many of which are torturous. The keys are fairly flat, I prefer a more rounded key, but the feel and travel of the keys is by no means bad. There is no cheap feeling flex in the keyboard. The most annoying thing I can find is that there’s no dedicated Home and End keys.
The touchpad has a few advanced features such as zooming using a “pinch” motion with your forefinger and thumb (a la Apple iPhone). Frankly I think it’s nice they offer this, but have no use and simply use a touchpad to navigate the cursor and do vertical/horizontal scrolling. I actually found the advanced features a nuisance as they would trigger when I didn’t intend them to, so I turned them off. My major complaint with the touchpad however is that it’s hard to distinguish where it starts and ends as Acer made the poor design decision to blend it into the body with nary a color shade or texture difference to know what your borders are. It’s annoying at first, eventually you get used to knowing where your touchpad edges are, it’s definitely a learning curve though.
The Acer 1410 has a 1366 x 768 resolution screen, a higher resolution than most netbooks. In order to be able to use multiple tabs in a browser and fit enough text and images on a small screen it’s really quite essential to have this high resolution. I can read much more easily on the Aspire 1410 than any previous netbook I’ve used because I simply have to do less scrolling, and that means I’m more productive. The screen brightness is very good, not amazing, and the viewing angles are so-so but I can overlook this typical shortcoming simply because I wouldn’t trade any other factor of the screen for the higher resolution you get. Simply put, it makes using the Aspire 1410 far more pleasurable and productive than a netbook.
Processor and Graphics
Just about all netbooks have the Intel Atom processor and they all perform pretty much the same. The Aspire 1410 ditches the Atom for an Intel Core2 Solo ULV SU3500 processor and the extra performance boost you get from this 1.4GHz processor over an Atom is not only measurable using benchmarks but also noticeable in everyday use. Now, I do have to say that you must remove all of the trialware crap from the laptop that Acer installs (took me almost an hour) and then make a few tweaks in Windows Vista to get things great, but even out of the box the Aspire 1410 was faster than the Asus 1000HE I used. Coupled with the Intel GMA 4500 graphics I found that playing HD movies in full screen from YouTube was quite doable, the processor did spike at 100% during these times though so you really need to make sure you don’t have a bunch of processes running in the background in order to keep HD video viewing performance up. That said, if your main goal is to use business applications on the Aspire 1410 you’ll have no trouble whatsoever.
Acer ships the 1410 with 2GB 667MHz memory. Since the Aspire 1410 is running Vista you will need all of this memory, Vista is a memory hog. The good news is that the Acer ships with one stick of 2GB memory and it’s easy to upgrade to 4GB of total memory if you choose to..
I got a Toshiba 250GB 5400RPM hard drive in my Aspire 1410, that’s enough storage for my needs and the performance is good with bootup occurring in under a minute (bootup speed depends a lot on the hard drive). If you’re into ripping videos and storing tons of media, 250GB will not be enough for you. For 95% of people this will be fine though, especially since it’s designed as a portable laptop and not a multimedia powerhouse.
Windows experience index for Aspire 1410: 3.1
PC Wizard 2008 Scores:
|Acer Aspire 1410 (1.4GHz Core Solo ULV, 2GB RAM)||972.12|
|Asus 1000he (1.6GHz Intel Atom, 1GB RAM)||500.88|
|Acer Aspire One (1.6GHz Intel Atom, 1GB RAM)||401.73|
|HP dv6t (Intel 2.0GHz T6400 Core 2 Duo, 3GB RAM)||2,588.27|
The Aspire 1410 really shines in terms of port selection compared to netbooks. You get an HDMI port so you have the latest in video output to monitor technology and can even connect to your LCD TV if you wish to play videos from the web in your family room. Let’s take a tour of the ports on each side:
On the left is a standard monitor output port to connect to legacy monitors, then the power jack, an HDMI port and USB port.
On the right side is an SD slot, headphone and microphone jack, two USB ports and an Ethernet port for wired LAN connections.
I think it’s great an SD card reader is included as that makes it so much easier to transfer photos from a camera or simply to put in an extra card for storage. It’s worth noting that the SD card doesn’t quite go in all the way but sticks out ever so slightly.
One of the most important features of a portable notebook to me is its battery life. The Acer website indicates the Aspire 1410 offers six hours of battery life with the 4400 mAh battery that’s included. To test a “best case” battery scenario I left wireless on, screen brightness at the second level and put the laptop in Vista power saver mode and then let the screen saver run until the battery died. Doing this the battery finally ran down to 4% remaining after 8 hours and ten minutes!! That’s amazing, but also not very realistic. In reality while actually using the laptop for typing this review , doing some coding and school work with the screen brightness at half I got right about six hours of battery, just as Acer quotes. To me that’s still fantastic and yet another tribute to this little laptop.
The speaker for the Aspire 1410 is located on the under side of the laptop. As you would imagine, speaker quality is poor in a notebook of this size and the location of the speaker on the bottom of the laptop doesn’t help things. The speaker is fine for system sounds, but you should use headphones if you want better audio.
The Acer comes with an Intel 5100 a/b/g/n wireless card so you can connect to just about any wireless router. Performance in my usage was great and I never had a problem connecting to or holding a wireless access.
Unfortunately there is no Bluetooth built-in. This is disappointing as I like to be able to pair with my phone and use it as a wireless modem when on the road. I also have a Bluetooth travel mouse that would have worked perfectly with this Acer. Oh well, you can’t have it all for $449.
I don’t usually talk about the OS in a review, but it’s worth mentioning that the Acer 1410 comes with Windows Vista Premium instead of the typical Windows XP you get on netbooks. To some this might be a bad thing considering the hate that Windows Vista garners, but the good news is that Acer offers a free upgrade to Windows 7 and they will ship you the disk as soon as Microsoft releases the new OS. Windows 7 is faster and less bloated than Vista and so far has been receiving rave reviews – there will even be a mode in Windows 7 that has backward compatibility with Windows XP if you’re still stuck on that OS.
I can wholeheartedly recommend the Aspire 1410 to anyone looking for a portable laptop that’s a bit more useful than a netbook yet not quite as expensive or feature rich as a $1,000 – $2,000 ultraportable. Since the Aspire 1410 only only costs about $50 more than a typical netbook, I would certainly encourage netbook buyers to consider what that extra $50 gets you:
- Faster Intel Core Solo processor and better Intel graphics that provides better overall system performance than any netbook out there
- Higher resolution 1366 x 768 screen that allows you to see more and be more productive
- HDMI and monitor out port so you can connect to any monitor or even your LCD TV
- Same 3lb weight as most netbooks
- Stunning 6 hour battery life that is as good as a netbook
- Free upgrade to Windows 7 when it is released
- Larger and more usable keyboard than most netbooks
Acer really hit the nail on the head with this Aspire 1410. However, as with anything it is not perfect and will not fit everyone’s needs. The touchpad is poorly designed as it is hard to tell the edges. Acer support does not have the best reputation, if something goes wrong it could be a real hassle dealing with support. And of course, while the Acer 1410 performs better than any netbook it’s still vastly under powered relative to more full sized laptops with 15-inch plus sized screens such as the HP Pavilion dv6t or Dell Inspiron 15.
At the end of the day the Aspire 1410 is the first laptop I’ve used in a while that not only met my expectations for the price I paid, but actually exceeded them.
Score Rating: 9/10
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