Acer Aspire 1690 Review (pics, specs)

by sutheep Reads (151,434)

by Sutheep, Thailand

Overview & Introduction

This notebook is an Acer Aspire 1692WLMi. It is a desktop replacement notebook. The configuration is as follows:

  • Intel Pentium M Processor 740 (Processor speed 1.73GHz, 2MB L2 cache, 533MHz FSB)
  • Intel 915PM Express Chipset Integrated Intel Pro/Wireless 2200BG  
  • 256MB DDR-RAM (Max 2GB)  
  • 80GB HDD, Weight 2.95kg.  
  • DVD-Dual Double Layer Drive
  • 4-in-1 card reader  
  • 56K Fax/Modem, 10/100/1000Mbps LAN  
  • 15.4″ WXGA Acer CrystalBrite TFT LCD(1280×800 pixel)
  • S-Video Out  
  • ATI Mobility Radeon X600 64MB  
  • Li-Ion Battery (3.5 hrs. battery life)  
  • IEEE 1394 port
  • Infrared port
  • Integrated Bluetooth
  • Acer SignalUp wireless technology support  
  • Microsoft Windows XP Home

Reason for buying

The main reason for buying this laptop was the bang for the buck factor; you won’t get this many features if you go for an IBM at the same price that I paid, 59,600 baht (US$1,490). I was looking at some other brands as I shopped for a laptop, one such brand was ASUS, but in the end I could find no other notebook that gave me Dual DVD and Pentium M 1.73 at this price.

Where & How was it purchased

I purchased this Acer at a local dealer in a market called computer city. The seller there was Acer’s authorized dealer. If anyone wants to buy an Acer notebook, I’d highly suggest you to go to an authorized dealer for warranty purposes.

Form & Design

The top of the notebook looks rather bland and simple, with Acer’s emblem on it and an “inviilink” sticker.  I think overall the notebook looks good as it’s very professional in its style and there are no distracting colors.  The lid is made of plastic and is silver in color. You won’t have to take a second look at the lid to see that it is indeed plastic, and unfortunately it does flex quite a bit. Ripples on the LCD screen can be seen if pressure on the lid is applied hard enough. At 2.95kg (6.5lbs) it isn’t that heavy if you’re just going to be carrying it short distances, but if you’re going to walk for over a mile or so then I’d suggest a good ergonomic backpack or a lighter notebook.

Above view (view larger image)

One thing I’ll also note is that I do work with a notebook in my lap and it is easy to do it with the Aspire 1692.

Screen

The screen on this notebook provides a very crisp and clear picture. The screen is a 15.4″ wide screen format with the CrystalBrite feature. The CrystalBrite means you get enhanced colors (deeper blacks, brighter whites) and an overall brighter screen.  CrystalBrite is basically the same as Sony’s XBrite, Fujitsu’s CrystalView and Toshiba’s TruBrite or HP’s BrightView (and the rest of the various catchy marketing terms other manufacturers have come up with). I have used this notebook outdoors and even there the text is very legible.  The screen has no dead pixels, so hooray to Acer’s Dot Free Campaign (they’re doing this in Asia at least)!  The resolution I have this screen set to and use is 1280×800.

It’s a glossy screen finish as indicated by the amount of reflection you get! (view larger image)

Speakers

The speakers for this notebook are about the same as every other notebook I’ve used. The speakers are rich in mid-level and hi-level sound, but are missing the bass. As always, the suggestion is that you get some good earphones or external speakers if you want to listen to music or movies.

Processor and Performance

The notebook is pretty snappy with the 1.73MHz Pentium M it has (using the latest Sonoma architecture). It boots into Windows quite quickly, although it would be faster if I had more than the 256MB of RAM that came as the system configuration default, I will upgrade to 512MB soon.  The 512MB will provide for much better overall performance. Since I’ve bought the laptop there have been no problems with hanging or slow performance. I played CS:Source on it, with quite good graphics, and it ran fairly well. I have not tried it on maximum graphic settings as yet.

Benchmark

We use the program Super Pi to get a benchmark of processor speed.  The Super Pi program simply forces the processor to calculate Pi to a selected number of digits of accuracy.  Calculating to 2 million digits is our benchmark.  Below is a comparison chart of how the Aspire 1692WLMi with it’s 1.73 GHz processor stacked up to other notebooks when running this calculation:

 Notebook Time to Calculate Pi to 2 Million Digits
Acer Aspire 1692WLMi (1.73GHz Alviso Pentium M) 1m 49s
Gateway 7422GX (AMD 2.4GHz) 2m 12s
Dell Latitude D410 (2.00 GHz Alviso Pentium M) 1m 36s
IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86 GHz Alviso Pentium M) 1m 45s
Fujitsu LifeBook N3510 (1.73 GHz Alviso Pentium M) 1m 48s
IBM ThinkPad T41 (1.6GHz Banias Pentium M) 2m 23s
Compaq R3000T (Celeron 2.8GHz) 3m 3s
Dell Inspiron 600m (1.6 GHz Dothan Pentium M) 2m 10s
Dell Inspiron 8600 (1.7GHz Banias Pentium M) 2m 28s

Keyboard & Touchpad
 
The keyboard has a nice layout, although not as nice as the Acer Ferrari model series. Thankfully Acer places the CTRL key where it is supposed to be for a full sized keyboard configuration. Also, the PgUp/PgDn/Delete key are all dedicated, certainly a good thing so that you don’t have to hold in the Fn key in conjunction with another key to perform these actions. You can also control the media via the keyboard. Acer added two new keys to this Asian version of the laptop, the Euro and Dollar sign keys each get a spot next to the directional keys. I think this is a nice touch, as most notebooks leave this area blank anyway, might as well utilize the space.

Keyboard and Touchpad (view larger image)

Unfortunately you get quite a lot of flex on the keyboard if you press hard enough. Oh well, this isn’t an IBM and I didn’t pay the amount you would for such.

Notice the dedicated Euro and $ sign keys you get on the Asia Pacific version of this laptop

The Touchpad is made by Synaptics, it’s nice and big and very responsive to the touch.  It’s also easy to configure to your liking as far as sensitivity goes. A nice extra is the fact that there’s a 4-way direction dedicated key in the middle of the left and right mouse buttons.

The built in hardware buttons are nice (view larger image)

Input and Output Ports

On the front of the notebook you can see the IrDA port, next to it is the power and HDD LEDs. Acer has added Wifi and Bluetooth hardware on/off buttons, very nice if you want to turn off these features and save power. Also, the line-in, headphones, and microphone slots are located at the front which is very nice if you use headphones, it prevents wires from tangling behind. There’s 1 USB port on the front as well.

Front view (view larger image)

On the right side, there’s a FireWire port on the edge. Then a card-reader, under the card reader is the PCMCIA card slot. Then there are 2 horizontal USB 2.0 ports. Next to this is the S-Video Out. Then there is LAN and Modem port.

Right side view (view larger image)

Media card reader, FireWire and PCMCIA slot on the right side

On the back there is a VGA out port and the battery. Next to the battery there’s a Kensington lock slot.

Back side view (view larger image)

On the left there’s an optical drive and nothing else.

Left side view (view larger image)

Wireless

The wireless included in this notebook is Intel 2200BG. I was connected to my wireless network right out of the box. The range is pretty good, it uses Acer’s Invisilink technology for better range. And yes, this notebook has Bluetooth as well as an Infrared port.

Battery

I have been achieving battery life of greater than 3 hours. Honestly, if you turned down screen brightness and disabled the wireless features you could probably go up to 4 hours and maybe more, it really depends on what you are doing with the notebook. The marketing materials promote the notebook as having 3.5 hours of life, so I’m quite happy with the performance I’ve been getting.

Operating System & Software

The notebook came preinstalled with Windows XP Home. There were 3 recovery CDs include in the package, 1 System CD, Norton Antivirus 2005, NTI CD&DVD Maker. I have not used any of these. For Antivirus software I use NOD32, the best ever in my opinion (http://www.nod32.com/home/home.htm). And for burning CDs and DVDs, I use Nero.

Customer Support

I have not had a chance to use Customer Support; I hope I don’t have to. The notebook came with a 3 year warranty. I don’t think it’s possible to buy a longer warranty than this in the Asia-Pacific region, but I’ll have to check.

Complaints

  • Touch pad keys not so good
  • Flex on screen top, shows ripples
  • Some flex on the keyboard
  • Heat on the right palm rest
  • HDD/Num Lock/Cap/ LEDs could be placed in better position

Praises

  • Excellent Price
  • Dual Layer DVD
  • Infrared and Bluetooth, how often you find these two in one notebook
  • Nice CrystalBrite Screen
  • Good wireless Range
  • Great placement of ports
  • And of course, the Simple professional looks

Conclusion

I can recommend this notebook to anyone that’s simply looking for bang for the buck in regards to features.  You get a dedicated graphics card, fast processor, nice screen and good amount of ports and wireless option all for a good price.  It’s not the most sturdy or well built notebook on the block, but you’d have to pay more if it were.

Pricing and Availability


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