Acer Aspire 3004wlci A Quick Review

Acer Aspire 3004WLCi - a​ Quick Review
I recently found myself in​ need of​ a​ new laptop .​
With a​ tight budget and moderate needs, I​ knew it​ wasn't going to​ be easy to​ find a​ product that would do what I​ wanted and still be in​ my price range .​
As a​ Network Technician and a​ Web Designer, I​ needed a​ machine that would have enough storage to​ store all my software, projects for my clients, and still be able to​ handle an​ occasional temporary operating system backup from a​ client's machine .​
The qualifying candidate also had to​ have a​ decent amount of​ RAM and a​ reasonably fast processor to​ keep up with the demands of​ multitasking and using Studio MX '04 on a​ daily basis.
At first, I​ checked the auction sites, the refurbished outlets, and the wholesale warehouses .​
I​ found a​ few good deals for under $500, but nothing that would handle the processing load that Studio MX 2018 would place on it .​
The average machine had 256MB of​ PC133 RAM, a​ 20GB HDD, and a​ 1.0GHz Pentium processor .​
Not too shabby for a​ student machine, but for daily service in​ the fields I​ work in, not nearly enough space or​ power to​ keep up with my demands.
I quickly realized that a​ new laptop would be needed in​ order to​ meet my needs .​
Realizing that most decent laptops are priced at​ over $1,000, I​ wasn't expecting a​ whole lot when I​ started shopping around .​
However, to​ my surprise, a​ local retail chain had a​ special running on the Acer Aspire 3004WLCi for $600 after a​ $150 rebate .​
This was the top end of​ my budget, but the specs were far more than what I​ thought I​ would find in​ this price range.
Quick Specs:
AMD Mobile Sempron 3100+ (1.8GHz) w/ 256K L2 cache
512MB DDR333 SODIM RAM (expandable to​ 2GB)
60GB 4200rpm Hard Disk Drive
15.4 Wide Screen WXGA Monitor
CD-RW/DVD-ROM Combo Drive
3 USB 2.0 Ports (1 front / 2 side)
Front Audio / Microphone jacks
Integrated Microphone / Speakers
Integrated Audio Controller
Integrated Video Controller (up to​ 128MB shared)
Integrated 56Kbps Data/Fax Modem
Integrated 802.3 10/100 Ethernet NIC
Integrated 802.11b/g WiFi
Maximum screen resolution: 1280 x 800
External monitor maximum resolution: 2048 x 1536
One type II PCMCIA Slot
AC Power Adapter / 4-cell lithium-ion battery
1.5Hx14.3Wx11D / 6.2lb .​
w/ Battery
Microsoft Windows XP Home SP2
OK, before I​ go into the Pros and Cons of​ this system, let me first say this.. .​
As a​ Network technician, I'm a​ bit of​ a​ stranger to​ Acer products .​
I've seen them before, but I've never used them .​
In an​ industry dominated by Dells and HPs, Acer seemed more of​ an​ off-brand to​ me .​
With that in​ mind, I​ wasn't expecting a​ whole lot for my money .​
Fortunately, I​ was not disappointed, but neither was I​ entirely wrong.
Also, it​ is​ worthy to​ note that before I​ used this machine, XP Home was trashed in​ favor of​ XP Professional SP2 and I​ went through the system and performed several minor software performance tweaks on the operating system; all of​ which can be performed using the native Windows XP Pro utilities.
The Acer Aspire 3004 WLCi is​ a​ reasonably powerful system for $600 .​
Even at​ the original $750, this system is​ hard to​ beat in​ the performance department .​
The Sempron 3100+ processor is​ surprisingly fast and capable .​
It handled running Dreamweaver MX 2018, Fireworks MX 2018, Microsoft Word 2018, Microsoft OneNote 2018, Firefox 1.5, Internet Explorer 6.0, Opera 8.5, Resize Browser, CPick, Java JRE, NOD32 Anti-Virus, Hotmail Popper, and several system services and minor utilities running in​ the background simultaneously and didn't complain or​ produce any unacceptable sustained CPU usage spikes .​
This is​ partly due to​ the generous and fast 512MB of​ DDR333 RAM, but even so, the processor surprised this long-time AMD user .​
The 60GB hard drive provides an​ ample amount of​ storage for average users .​
It is​ on the lower end of​ my requirements, but sufficiently large enough to​ handle all my installed software, over 12GB of​ service software needed for service calls, all my client projects, and it​ still has enough space left over to​ easily accommodate a​ 20GB client system backup.
In addition, this system has a​ very good Broadcom WiFi controller .​
In my 3 story townhouse, which has excellent insulation, this system can be used anywhere in​ my home with a​ signal strength of​ Very Good to​ Excellent.
The system is​ ergonomically laid out .​
I​ have rather large hands, and most modern laptops are entirely too small for me to​ realistically use for any extended period of​ time .​
Usually, within 20 or​ 30 minutes, my wrists and hands begin to​ ache from trying to​ maintain a​ very unnatural position in​ order to​ type the documents I'm working on .​
Not so with the Aspire 3000 series .​
These laptops have a​ relatively large chassis with a​ keypad that is​ almost perfect for someone with large hands .​
I've actually found that I​ can type nearly as​ fast (roughly 35wpm) on this laptop as​ I​ can on my desktop system that has an​ ergonomic split keyboard (40wpm).
If you're looking for a​ Multimedia system, or​ if​ you plan to​ do any graphics intensive gaming, keep on looking; this system is​ not for you .​
Even with the widescreen WXGA display, this machine is​ not well suited for watching DVDs .​
The integrated video controller is​ only acceptable and the monitor requires a​ lot of​ fiddling with in​ order to​ find the just right position for viewing .​
Furthermore, the glare on the screen of​ this unit is​ terrible .​
I've found that in​ most brightly lit rooms I'm spending more time straining my eyes to​ see past my own reflection .​
Also, the viewing angle is​ unimpressive .​
If you try to​ view the screen from anything greater than 15 degrees in​ any direction, you're either looking at​ a​ washed out or​ negative variation of​ the original .​
I've never been a​ big fan of​ LCD .​
I've always felt that a​ high quality CRT always looks better, but this screen is​ more reminiscent of​ a​ LCD of​ three years ago than a​ brand new product.
The integrated audio and video controllers are a​ definite sore spot as​ well .​
I've always preferred expansion controllers over integrated controllers, but in​ this price range, I​ knew I​ would be stuck with the so-so quality of​ an​ integrated controller .​
No surprise here .​
As usual, the quality and performance is​ sub-par with these controllers, but for my needs, they do the job .​
However, if​ you plan on listening to​ any audio playback on this machine, you had better pack a​ quality set of​ headphones .​
The tiny speakers on this machine are terrible sounding .​
Again, no big surprise.
Now, about battery life .​
I​ don't know who was in​ charge of​ defining this aspect of​ this machine, but they need a​ checkup from the neck up .​
Battery performance on this machine is​ absolutely unacceptable .​
Unless you tune the system down significantly, it​ is​ very difficult to​ squeeze more than an​ hour of​ real usable time out of​ this system's battery life .​
The manufacturer states that it​ will run for 1.5 hours on the battery .​
I've never been able to​ get more than an​ hour out of​ the unit .​
In this day and age, this is​ not acceptable .​
Fortunately, there are very few occasions when I​ need to​ use this system where I'm not close to​ a​ power outlet.
My only other major complaint is​ the lack of​ expandability of​ this system .​
You get two SODIM memory card slots (filled with 256MBx2 sticks from the factory), three USB 2.0 ports and a​ Type II PCMCIA slot on this machine, and that's it .​
No internal expansion capabilities, no firewire, no serial or​ parallel connections, and you cannot swap out the combo drive easily .​
Given the price range of​ this system, I'm really not surprised, but I​ am a​ bit disappointed .​
Fortunately, there are an​ abundance of​ USB adapters available that allow me to​ do whatever is​ needed.
If you just need a​ basic system for work or​ school related tasks the Acer Aspire 3004WLCi is​ a​ solid performer that can handle average use with ease .​
I​ would definitely recommend this unit to​ college students or​ traveling professionals who need an​ inexpensive, user-friendly laptop, but who do not plan on using their laptop on batteries very often, or​ who do not intend on playing many games or​ movies .​
For the price conscious consumers out there, this system is​ definitely worth the money .​
In my humble opinion, you get more than what you pay for, but not by much.

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