[Laptop] Acer Aspire 1692WLMi


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Timmah

Acer Aspire 1692WLMi Notebook/Laptop

I've been researching laptops for the last few weeks, and it has been one of the hardest decisions I've ever made! As I'm off to uni in a week or so, I needed a laptop powerful enough to justify the purchase, with enough power to last me at least 2-3 years. I'm not fussy when staying on top of technology so I'm confident this laptop will do me proud.

Firstly I'm going to take a look at the major specifications, they are as follows:

  • 1.73GhZ Intel Centrino Pentium-M Processor
  • 1024MB of DDR2 RAM
  • 80GB 5400rpm HDD
  • ATi X700 Mobility Graphics with 64MB RAM
  • 15.4" WXGA CrystalBrite TFT (Native resolution: 1200x800)
  • Slot-Loading Pioneer Dual-Layer DVD Burner
  • Integrated Wi-Fi

And as for the ins, outs and other bits:

  • 1 Firewire
  • 3 USB 2.0
  • 1 S-Video
  • 1 Gigabit LAN Port
  • 4-in-1 Card Reader
  • PCMCIA Card Bus Slot
  • 1 VGA Port
  • 56K Modem
  • Audio In/Microphone In/Headphone (Audio Out) Port

Last but not least we've got a few buttons on the front - one for Bluetooth (though I don't think its included on this model) and one for WiFi on/off, what seems to be an IrDA panel, 4 quick launch buttons and the touch pad with 2 buttons and a 4-way scroll button.

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The box, in all its green, Acer glory.

Unpacking, contents and first impressions

The laptop was well packed in a pretty much ordinary box. Within the box was the laptop itself and another box containing CDs, manuals and the power lead/battery pack. This is pictured below:

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Upon opening the box.

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A box of goodies, yesterday.

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I'll be keeping the packaging, very handy as I have no laptop bag as of yet.

My first impressions were that it was fairly solid, typically laptop sized and pleasing to the eye. The lid is a bit stiff, but that means it doesn't wobble about when you type or move the laptop. This is great if you're not on an even surface. Upon lifting the lid I was greeted with a beautifully shiny screen and the keyboard. I'm typing on the keyboard as I write this, and being a fan of standard desktop keyboards I can say its taken me very little time to migrate. Being quite a fast typer this could have been an issue for me.

The laptop is fairly heavy, but not too heavy. When in a bag or rucksack weight wouldn't be a problem and walking between rooms with it under your arm is no big task. There is a small amount of "give" on the lid when pressure is applied, but I don't suggest you go applying pressure there anyway. The keyboard and its surrounding silver platform is rock solid plastic, and makes a great wrist-rest.

As you can see from the picture above, software provided includes Windows XP Home, Microsoft Office and some other generic bits and pieces I've not bothered with yet. Everything is pre-installed, so these discs serve merely as backup.

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As you can see the laptop is fairly thin and rounded.

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Look at the shine on that screen!

First boot, widescreen and a closer inspection.

Naturally, the first boot is quite a long one, graphics drivers set themselves up, Acer applications reboot your laptop a number of times, Windows asks you for the usual username, PC name and so forth. Once you escape the opening spin-cycle of setups you're presented with a vanilla Windows XP Home, with a side helping of Acer sauce. There are a number of applications including power management and shortcut apps designed to make your laptop that little bit more easy to use.

Personally I haven't really used them as of yet. The power management program overrides Windows' default dialogue - and it is quite useful. You can alter settings such as CPU performance (I believe this laptop includes the Intel SpeedStep technology) and turn ports on and off - PCMCIA, LAN, WiFi etc... all in the name of power management.

The touch pad is rather nice, responsive and smooth. The scroll button is ok, though personally I can't seem to get it to work in Firefox. This is no problem, unlike a desktop the PgUp and PgDown keys are about 10cm away, and I'm sure I'll sort it out eventually.

The keyboard feels very nice to type on, and as previously mentioned is easy to migrate to. The keys don't feel cheap, they feel solid and comfortable. It is important to note this laptop does not feature the "curved" keyboard as seen on Acer's travelmate range of laptops.

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The black keyboard in all its glory.

The laptop's screen is a work of art. Coming in a 15.4" widescreen flavour, its glossy finish ensures you'll enjoy the time you spend using the laptop. When plugged into the mains, the screen is so bright I find myself adjusting the contrast to suit my eyes. The CrystalBrite technology assists in delivering a sharp and clear image, and the native resolution of 1200x800 pixels is a welcome change, though can take a little getting used to. Unfortunately Acer's standard 15" screens do not provide this CrystalBrite technology, so unless you're prepared to switch to 16:9, you'll have to settle for second-best. The "sun test" proves that no laptop is perfect, as with all TFTs the screen can be a little hard to read in bright conditions, you'll find yourself turning the brightness up and thus reducing your battery life - but isn't this the story with every laptop?

Performance

Personally I find this laptop lightning fast. I'm only used to an AthlonXP 3000+ with 512MB of RAM so I wasn't surprised when this beast outperformed it from the beginning. To speed up start up times you may wish to disable some of the extras Acer install, though I've not touched "msconfig" and Windows boots from cold and ready to go in no time. Unfortunately I haven't timed it but at a guess I'd say 15-30 seconds max.

The X700 is possibly the best mobile graphics card on the market today, though this model has slightly less VRAM than Acer's standard, clocking in at 64 instead of 128. Saying that it can still handle recent games well, and if the game supports widescreen resolutions (? la UT2004) the resulting eye candy is rather impressive. Personally I'm not much of a gamer any more and I won't have time to game at uni so I haven't concentrated on this aspect as much as say, the battery-life aspect. Speaking of which...

Battery life is at present quite impressive. Much of this review was written whilst running on battery power, and I estimate to have received 2-3 hours when the meter was still showing 30%. At present i'm at 87% with four and a half hours advertised. Naturally battery power will be higher in the evening when the screen brightness will be lower, but you're looking to get around 3 hours, perhaps more out of general use. By general use I mean browsing the web, word processing, transferring files via LAN and instant messaging.

The laptop's in-built speakers are not particularly bad, but as with all passive speakers they aren't the best solution. The ports for audio connectivity are located at the front of the laptop, which is perfect for headphones but perhaps a little inconvenient if you plan to use external speakers or even plug it into your home cinema.

Generally speaking the wireless reception is mediocre. I've found the connection to fluctuate, it seems to time out and stop without notifying you. I've only tested this on my network, and I do believe there's a level of interferance - I haven't discovered the source but I installed another Netgear PCMCIA card and my problems seem to have cleared up. I suggest if you receive below par performance to invest in an extra card. If wires are your thing the gigabit LAN is a nice addition, particularly if you have a network that can handle those sort of speeds.

Overview and Conclusion>

Overall, I'm delighted with my purchase. This notebook is perfect for anyone looking for raw power at an affordable price. The sharp widescreen display compliments the impressive specification and other non-essential features such as the dual-layer DVD writer, infra-red connection and the card reader are more than welcome. Comfort is a large factor for me and this laptop provides it, as well as a robust case and keyboard.

What more can I say? Hopefully this review has helped anyone also wondering if this laptop is right for them, and maybe provided an insight into the Acer Aspire range. So far so good, and I'd not be afraid of buying Acer again.

I hope three years down the line I still feel the same way.

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Pros>

Fast, powerful with plenty of storage.

Dedicated graphics chip.

Good battery life.

Excellent display.

Lots of extras, like a DVD-RW and IrDA.

Cons>

Poor WiFi performance (possibly still my end, not sure)

Typical laptop cons, e.g. display in sunlit areas

Widescreen may not suit everyone

Comes with two FAT32 partitions - might not suit everyone!

Updated: 17 September, 12:57

Edited by Timmah
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spqqn

Nice Review.

I will never understand why Acer uses the Fat32 File System. Everytime I get one I always have to go it and reformat it in NTFS...

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Timmah

Review updated! See the wifi bit.

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gazebee_

awesome, one of my mates bought a similar one from Acer over here in Hong Kong before he left for Canada. His system is the same as yours except its 2.13ghz Pentium M, 100GB H.D. and 128mb x700. Nice setup :D

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Timmah
awesome, one of my mates bought a similar one from Acer over here in Hong Kong before he left for Canada. His system is the same as yours except its 2.13ghz Pentium M, 100GB H.D. and 128mb x700. Nice setup :D

586538592[/snapback]

Yeah its great.

The only disappointment was the wifi, but I got a complimentary Netgear card with my router so it ain't a problem here.

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Mothium

Great review, i'm looking to get this kind of model. How much did you pay for it and where did you get it?

Thanks again!

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Timmah
Great review, i'm looking to get this kind of model. How much did you pay for it and where did you get it?

Thanks again!

586549948[/snapback]

I paid ?800 from Comet.co.uk though if you order online it's only ?780.

I know it sounds pathetic ordering from someone like Comet, but trust me - its the cheapest place to get this model!

Their website's specs are also wrong, it has infra red, S-Video and ethernet as well as DDR2 RAM - none of which they mention. What a pleasant surpris:D:D

And its so fas:D:D

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Mothium
I paid ?800 from Comet.co.uk though if you order online it's only ?780.

I know it sounds pathetic ordering from someone like Comet, but trust me - its the cheapest place to get this model!

Their website's specs are also wrong, it has infra red, S-Video and ethernet as well as DDR2 RAM - none of which they mention. What a pleasant surpris:D:D

And its so fas:D:D

586552225[/snapback]

Thank you so much i am seriously considering getting this now, i used to be dreaming of the acer travelmate 8103 but its just damned expensive.

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benjaminzsj

Nice buy.

Wifi problem, you mean the antenna isn't powerful enough?

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Bennifer

A friend of mine has one of these... well... it majorly screwed itself, I think it had some severe motherboard fault as there was no way it would boot from cd, boot past the windows loading screen, bios took about 2 minutes to get through, wouldnt reset or flash bios... she sent it back and they said it needed a new hard drive, cd drive and motherboard. The warranty system was decent with a turnaround of less than 2 weeks - but that was **** poor considering she had only used it for msn messenger, internet and word.

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CeL_dAmAgE

Sweet, look close to a perfect buy for a college bound kid. Thank got it's got the graphics for those late night counter strike sessions ^-^

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