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Acer Aspire 4720z: Gone The Distance

Reviewing: Acer Aspire 4720 4538  |  Rating:
Sean Lenz By Sean Lenz on
Badge: Author | Level: 1 | Computers & Laptops Expertise:


Processor: Intel Dual Core 1.83gHz x2

Memory: 2gHz DDR2

Storage: 120gB 5600RPM Serial ATA HDD Updated: 500gB 7200RPM Serial ATA HDD

Optical: CD\DVD-RW+/- Single Layer Serial ATA burner

Display: 14.1" LCD 1200x800 max resolution

Audio: "Dolby Digital" Stereo Speakers, Built-in Microphone; Headphone, Audio In, and Microphone Jacks; Multi-level Volume Adjustment Wheel

Extras: 4 USB 2.0 ports, SVGA and S-Video output, 56kbps Modem, 100/10 Ethernet Port, 34mm Express Card PCI slot, IEEE 1384 Firewire port, Broadcom 802.11 b\g Wireless Card, Two-button Touchpad mouse with a scroll button, Infrared Remote Sensor

Operating System: Windows Vista Home Premium Updated: Ubuntu Linux 9.10 "Karmic Koala"

The Rest:

I bought this laptop Nov '08 at the local Wal-Mart for like $500. When I first booted it up, all went well. Gave me the usual Windows splash screen and then asked for all the set up information. About a week or two later I had a problem with the optical drive. Apparently Vista lost the drivers. Not much of a problem but I didn't have Internet connection so I did a system restore and booted it from a older image.

One of the bigest problems I have with pre-made desktops and laptops is the fact that they always have extra crap that you either have no clue what it's their for or you will never use. My box was no exception. I uninstalled just about everything that was related to Acer and "Wild Tangent Games" and started to build it back up once I had torn it down. CCleaner for the daily hard drive cleanings, Avast! Anti-virus, Daemon Tools, and a bevy of other geek apps. I used Hiren's to change the partition size so i could dual boot with Linux and added another NTFS partition so I could have my personal files separate from Windows.

I had Adobe CS3 and AutoCAD2009 with a Wacom Tablet running on it just fine with nary a hang up. It could even play my PS2 games (not well) once I had the emulator. But much like others who tax their comps too far I had a HDD mess up. I tried to run HDD Regenerator but every sector was fried. I'm still puzzled how that happened. Well I didn't have an installation disk for Vista HP so I winged it and installed Ubuntu "Intrepid Ibex" once I got a replacement HDD. It's been running fine software-wise since. I can even use it as a wireless router when i need it to now. I would love to see Windows do that!

Now on to the hardware...

The Battery has lasted well despite the abuse I have sent it through. It still has over 50% capacity after a year. One of the biggest problems I have is the power adapter. Not the cord but the plug that is inside the computer. It is extremely fragile and weak. It broke off completely back in October. I have the power-cord hard-wired directly to the "Power Card" until I can get another card from a third-party Acer part supplier for $75 & shipping. The internals of the computer aren't that complicated. I can take the entire computer apart in like maybe half an hour. Everything is relatively easily replaceable and I love the fact that my drives are Serial ATA instead of SCSI or IDE. It really speeds the system up and makes thing much more efficient. That and I don't have to worry about any bent pins when i have to switch drives.

I love having all the extra bells and whistles (connections and ports). Having 4 USB hook ups lets me have a bevy of accessories attached (like a standard mouse and keyboard to external HDDs and drawing tablets, etc.). The S-Video output lets me hook up to the TV should I have the need and the remote sensor, when i have Windows Media Center, Is very handy when I had my computer as the main media contributor.

The keyboard that is built-in leaves much to be desired. Sure it's cute that they added the Dollar sign and the Euro symbol right next to the arrow keys but really it is one of the weakest parts on the computer. I have had to switch entirely to my full keyboard because some of the keys are non responsive. But something like that is easily replaced for cheap.

All in all I would rate it an 8 out of 10. It's a decent mid-cost laptop but compared to some of the more expensive models it's eating dust.