iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Acer Veriton FP2

Due to Intel the concept-PC theme has become quite pressing PC manufacturers, and not only them, gave out their point of view. As a rule, all those design features greatly differ from common beige metal boxes. CRT monitors are usually not used in such models, and the general formula looks like 15" LCD monitor plus an odd case which is not intended to be ever opened by a user.

Any concept-PC is considered as an ordinary representative of consumer electronics. You are really not going to pop into a VCR, refrigerator or gamestation every day with a screwdriver, right? There is the same situation. Plus, it should decorate an interior. However, here we are losing all those essential possibilities of a PC - its modularity, expandability, i.e. everything hidden in the word upgrade. A potential buyer of such a toy is a businessman who does not have enough time for dealing with upgrade.

Anyway, a concept-PC is not a competitor against those always open beige boxes, it's a beautiful expensive toy for decoration of a house or an office. Now are coming several photos from Acer (remember that an appearance makes somewhere 70% of the whole product):

The product is quite nice: some austere style, without unnecessary playfulness which is typical for "wild" designers. It suits office most of all.

Well, now let's unpack the box and check what's inside. And there you can find a computer, a mouse and a keyboard. Everything is decorated with Acer writings, though the mouse turned to be Logitech.

The keyboard is completely within the frames of the latest model: with five buttons for setting the favorite programs - the middle group: WWW browser, e-mail client, sleep/wake, and four are for control of different multimedia applications: stop, play/pause, fast forward, rewind. The ring turned to be rather convenient - it controls volume in Windows, and when pressed, it can turn on/off sound.

The model is not completely for sale - according to Acer, it's beta version, that's why I had to submit the German keyboard, since I mastered blind typing long time ago. The mouse didn't cause any problems. No PS/2 or any keyboard ports - the front panel contains two perfect USB ports. No problems concerning short mouse cable. I don't recommend to use two connectors located above USB. On the right there is a button very similar to Reset, but our efforts didn't cause any changes in PC working.

In the center you can find 1.44 MBytes drive and CD-ROM similar to that which is used in notebooks (a CD must be set on a rotating head by you). Anyway, the both slots are modular, with "hot" connection, that's why if you need to replace a floppy-drive by a DVD-ROM drive while the machine is working - no problems! Possibility of connecting the second HDD looks nice.

Switching on the computer, you will see a proprietary Acer's caption suggesting to key in in order to get into BIOS. After a while the computer says that Windows Millennium awakes - the matter is that according to the default settings the computer instead of switching off comes into Suspend-on-disk mode. In about 10 seconds you will recognize a terribly familiar interface.

Word, Excel, Acces, PowerPoint - the whole standard business set loads quickly, the working doesn't cause any troubles, moreover, the monitor seems to be more pleasant than the one standing next to it - FD Trinitron from Sony. You understand that no questions on efficiency should arise with 800 MHz Pentium III and 128 MBytes memory.

Now let's try to enter the Internet. For this purpose we need a modem.

Fortunately, both the V.90 modem and the Ethernet controller are included in the standard complete set. That's why do not worry about connection - just take out a computer, connect the corresponding cables, and start working.

No problems are faced with the Internet, correspondingly. The modem connects a provider, and then comes what was already said about working in business applications, considering that the Internet is mainly a text medium. That's why for wandering around the Inet the Veriton is an ideal alternative.

When listening to the music, first I blamed the integrated speakers (under the display). After that I switched Creative DTT 2500. Well, the sound coming out was still awful to hear. Therefore, it was AC'97 codec ADI SoundMax on the motherboard that is guilty here. The worst sound I heard for all my life.

Games... But what games can be found on the i815E? It's high time to modify the system. Contrary to what I said in the very beginning, the Veriton disassembles easily - you are only to unscrew several screws on the rear panel. So, what we saw:

An interesting solution - Acer decided that a user will apply the HDD most often. But we had no claims to the hard disc.

... Now I see why Reset didn't work ;-) A rather familiar picture. That black thing with wings is Pentium III 800, under it there is 128 MBytes module, and in the corner stands GMCH i815, a bit to the left there is ICH. Again to the left you will see a strange black connector, obviously, for some expansion modules, and then comes PCI slot with some tiny thing leaving two telephony connectors outside.

The sound is the first. Low-Profile PCI... MX300 doesn't fit this hole.

Say "au revoir" to the dreams for good sound.

According to Acer, these systems can be equipped even with GF2 MX and Radeon, especially considering that i815E AGP 4X slot comes according to the specification. AGP connector looks unusual:

LCD monitor and, correspondingly, a digital output and not an analog D-Sub. Fortunately, I had Asus V7100 video card in TwinView implementation - one analog and one digital DVI output. Let's install the card in the appropriate place:

Switch on... But on an attempt to wake the Windows, it hung. I used a combination of three keys, and it works! They ask whether I'd like to load in a simple way. I would. A standard procedure of card recognition, drivers' setup, and we got a system with a rather decent video. A configuration of the GF2 MX + Pentium III 800 (by the way, Acer promise 1 GHz processors) is sufficient for any games. Then I ran WinDVD. Well, with the 800 MHz CPU everything works perfectly. But for the sound!

Then I recovered the regular configuration, rebooted the machine a couple of times and learned that if it's used as a consumer electronics, then it should be disabled as "Suspend-to-RAM" - it falls asleep dead, and awakes in no time.

Now I will try to draw a conclusion from what I have seen. If you replace a regular modem by a Low-Profile PCI card - a combination of a V.90 modem and a sound card on a chip at least from ESS, then it will get a rather good system. And if the integrated Ethernet on your motherboard is enough for you, then you can position a simple sound card into the PCI slot.

Video - if you wish, a i815E-integrated graphics core is more than enough for working with texts and on the Internet; as for games, there is a possibility of connecting a normal video card, though I think that a card with DVI port for a monitor with a TV-out will be the optimal choice here.

And as a result, we have a stylish machine matching a room/office with the identical furnishing. Besides, it's powerful enough for any ideas that can strike its owner. Well, the Veriton FP2 completely corresponds its niche.

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