Design and Ergonomics
One glance at this netbook is enough to notice the special traits of the legendary sports cars from Maranello. Even though the case of this netbook is not made from robust and light carbon fiber as in the previous models of the series (the Acer Ferrari One 200 does not really fit into the typical netbook price category even without such expensive materials), the bright-red glossy lid with the stallion logo is not unlike the polished-off hood of a real Ferrari. The slanted corners and smooth lines of the case produce a sleek and aerodynamic appearance. Dust, scratches and fingerprints are going to be visible on the glossy surface but its red color makes them less conspicuous than if it were black. Pressing the lid with fingers produces circular patterns on the LCD matrix, which is quite a surprise. The display is small and might have been made more robust.
What is inacceptable for the hood of a racing car (especially, if it opens up from the front), but quite natural for a small portable computer, the lid has no lock. It is held at a required angle by the pair of stiff hinges that protrude from the screen bezel. The fastening mechanism allows unfolding the Ferrari One 200 by slightly less than 180 degrees.
The machine proves to be not red but black on the inside. The screen bezel is glossy, including the small pads along its perimeter. The surface above the keyboard is matte and mostly made up by the top of the battery which is fitted seamlessly into the netbook’s body. The matte touchpad is fitted between patterned plastic surfaces: the alternating glossy and matte squares of the pattern resemble a checkered finish flag. The Ferrari emblem can be found in the bottom right.
It is hard to spot the tiny eye of a built-in 0.3-megapixel web-camera and a microphone hole on the glossy top of the screen bezel. There is no camera activity indicator, so you cannot easily check out whether it is working or not.
The Ferrari One 200 has an 11.6-inch widescreen (16:9) display with a native resolution of 1366x768 pixels. The horizontal viewing angles are sufficiently wide but the vertical ones are worse: the onscreen image gets dark when you lift the display up too much, but when you lower it, the image becomes whitish. Like any other netbook, the Ferrari One 200 is supposed to accompany its owner in travels, but the glossy coating of the display will make the user take care about proper ambient lighting and avoid direct light. There are 10 levels of screen brightness and the lowest ones are quite usable. You can switch between them by pressing Fn together with Arrow Right or Left.
The keyboard of the first racing netbook has 84 black keys with rough and flat caps. The keys are placed very close to each other, making it likely to press the neighboring keys besides the one you actually need. The keys move softly and quietly with a well-perceived click. The cursor-controlling buttons are in the same line with the bottom keyboard row which is larger than the other rows of keys. The arrow keys are only half the size of the neighboring keys. The Page Up and Page Down buttons (doing double duty as Home and End via Fn) are above the Arrow Left and Arrow Right buttons. We don't like this replacement of the traditional vertical column of Home, Page Up, Page Down and End buttons because it is too easy to press two of these tiny keys accidentally when you need only one of them.
A numpad is combined with the main keyboard and there are also two Windows buttons. The functional keys are small. Their row continues with Print Screen, Pause, Insert and Delete. The letters are painted white while the additional functions accessible via Fn are marked with the Ferrari red.
The F10 button (we guess the F1 button would even be more appropriate) carries an image of a tiny racing car and the word Ferrari. When pressed together with Fn, it leads to the official Scuderia website.
The Power button in the top right corner is slim and chrome-plated. It is surrounded with red riffled plastic and highlighted when the netbook is up and running.
On the right, there are three white indicators: disk activity, Num Lock and Caps Lock.
Besides serving its main function as a cursor-controlling device, the touchpad matches the overall racing style of this netbook. It is shaped rather unusually as a trapezoid but the slanted corners are not functional and do not react to your touch. There is in fact an ordinary square touchpad beneath the trapezoid faceplate. The touchpad is flush with its surroundings and works well enough. It features multitouch functionality and supports gestures with two fingers for scrolling and scaling an image up and down. The touchpad buttons are embellished with the engraved "Ferrari One". The buttons are stiff and click softly when pressed.
The three remaining system indicators are on the right of the netbook’s front edge. They are labeled on the top panel of the netbook’s body and the lid covers the labels, but not the indicators themselves, when closed. These are (from left to right):
- Wireless interface indicator (orange)
- Power indicator (blue when the netbook is turned on; blinking when the netbook is in standby mode; off when the netbook is turned off)
- Battery indicator (orange when the battery is being recharged; off when the battery is empty; blinking orange when the battery charge is below 10%; shining blue when the battery is charged and the netbook is connected to the mains)
Besides a vent grid, the left panel of the netbook offers a 15-pin D-Sub connector for an external monitor, an ATI XGP port, and a USB 2.0 connector.
The ATI XGP port (eXternal Graphics Platform) is a rather rare feature in portable computers. It lets you connect a special container or docking station (Acer DynaVivid Graphics Dock) with external graphics card to your Acer Ferrari One 200. The DynaVivid Graphics Dock usually comes with an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4670 and offers extra video ports (HDMI and D-Sub) together with 6 USB 2.0 connectors. It can display video content on an external monitor at resolutions up to 2048x1536 pixels. The external graphics card makes the Ferrari One 200 ultrafast in terms of graphics performance but the problem is that the docking station is rather large at 193.5 x 193.5 x 32.8 millimeters, needs a dedicated power adapter, and weighs as much as 600 grams. We guess this option will only be interesting for users who want to make the most of this netbook at home. The external graphics card is not included into the box. Acer thought it unnecessary to include the DynaVivid Graphics Dock and raise the product price by some $200 more. The Ferrari One 200 is quite expensive even without that accessory.
The following can be found on the netbook’s right panel:
- Integrated 5-in-1 card-reader that supports Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, Multi Media Card, Secure Digital and xD-Picture card
- 3.5mm headphone socket
- Microphone jack
- Two USB 2.0 ports
- Power connector
- Kensington security slot
- LAN port (RJ-45)
Although numerous, the neighboring ports can be used simultaneously. The LAN port, just as the D-Sub connector on the other side of the case, has a red riffled edging that resembles the diffusers of a real racing car.
The rear panel is occupied by the battery. The lid covers the netbook’s back when you push it backwards, leaving no room for interface connectors.
The Acer Ferrari One 200 is equipped with a 6-cell 4400mAh battery. It is rated for a voltage of 11.1 volts and thus has a capacity of 48 Wh. The battery was somewhat wobbly in our sample of the netbook, but that's not a big problem.
The battery locks can be found on the bottom panel.
There are also a memory compartment (with two 2GB sticks), an HDD compartment, an OS serial sticker, and a couple of feeble speakers on the netbook’s bottom. You need an external speaker system or headphones to enjoy good sound from the Ferrari One 200.
By the way, the netbook's feet are designed to resemble wheels with rain tires. Perhaps such stiff rubber is okay for a racing car, but it is rather too hard for a small computer.