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Acer Aspire 5580 and Vista Home Premium - the Experience...

Well it's been about two weeks since I started using this, and I can't say the experience has been great. Here are the issues I have faced.

+ Wireless connection.
The eNet Management dialogue box intermittently announces that the internet has been disconnected, then usually announces that it is (re)connected straight after. Ongoing downloads are disrupted, though today while on Skype I noticed it happening, and there was no problem with the line... This fed into another problem: I set up a direct cable connection to see if there was any difference (it worked fine), but then the connection dialogue box for the cable connection would occasionally pop up (I assume because it was trying to 'reconnect' after the wireless went down - since I have told it not to try to reconnect this has stopped). Yesterday my Opera was working fine, but for some reason Firefox kept trying to connect with the cable connection - I would have lost a long post if I hadn't saved it on my computer too.

I contacted Acer support about this problem and was not too impressed: the first guy didn't try to find out what model etc. I was using, then when he heard I had 'intermittent connection' problems he told me to disable the Norton Internet Security that comes bundled with the laptop! I asked why, he said it was a known problem with Microsoft, and told me it would be in the knowledge base; I checked and it wasn't; I then asked why was there a 'known problem' with something that Acer supplies and recommends... He passed me onto his supervisor who asked me to try the cable connection; I also emailed him details of my wireless router etc. He emailed back a day later saying they have tested on their side and there were no problems and asked me to bring in my laptop for diagnostics... not a useful solution. I asked him to escalate it and/or send me details of how to do some diagnostics. No answer yet. Score for Acer support so far: 4/10.

++Update 11/09/07: Eventually I just removed the eNEt Management from the Startup folder. It doesn't seem to make any difference without it.
Also: This is a link for Acer users with Vista; it also has a link to get a new eNet application if you want it.++

+ The sidebar.
Sometimes the items in the sidebar would change place for no reason. Also: after booting up Windows told me that the sidebar was not working, it is investigating it, and will tell me when it has a solution. I reckon it may have something to do with the Google sidebar that annoyingly tried to install itself when I installed Google Desktop. This happened a couple of times, so I have now disabled the sidebar as it doesn't really do a lot for me, apart from having a big clock and date. Continue reading "Acer Aspire 5580 and Vista Home Premium - the Experience..."

New Acer Notebook and Windows Vista

Since I left my old job, I had to buy a new notebook. I have used Compaq and HP for the last four years, but frankly kept having niggling problems that prompted me to look elsewhere. Cost is also an issue, and looking around I found that the best price/quality option for the moment is an Acer Aspire 5580 (specifically, 5584). When I buy a computer my basic principle is to get the best specs possible: I want it to last 3-5 years, so it has to be 'future-proof'. So, the Acer 5584 has what I was looking for: Intel Core 2 Duo, DVD writer, Bluetooth and Vista Premium; it also has a large hard drive (120GB), a webcam and 1GB of RAM. The recommended retail was RM3888, and I got it down to RM3488 on cash terms. It comes with two 512GB sticks of RAM, but I wanted 2 GB, so I had to trade in them to get two 1GB sticks for RM200. Total: RM3688 (USD 1088).

So far so good, though it doesn't seem massively faster than before: a restart is quiker though... I am used to a 15" screen, so this one (14.1") is significantly smaller. No one seems to do 15" anymore, and 15.4" wouldn't fit in my backpack (which may not be a great reason I agree...).

I wouldn't have gone for Vista yet if I could have avoided it, as there are sure to be some compatibility issues and the like, but so far it's fine (touch wood!).

Here are some comments:

Games: Microsoft has finally gone beyond the same old games it's been using for years. There's chess, mahjong (of the clear-the-pairs-of-tiles kind), 'Ink Ball' (an interesting one, where you draw lines to bounce coloured balls into the right holes, though it is kind of fiddly with a laptop touchpad), and "Purble [not 'Purple'] Place" which has three simple games designed for young children with cartoony graphics and characters to guide you.

The much-vaunted 'Aero' system looks nice but doesn't really add much functionality. Basically you can cycle through the windows open on your desktop - like the Alt+Tab system, but with actual pictures of the content of the windows.

Happily, my Microsoft Natural keyboard, and trusty old A4 Tech wireless optical mouse, connected via an old USB hub (iBox MiniDock), installed and worked seamlessly. I was kind of expecting to have to get new drivers/hardware :-) Continue reading "New Acer Notebook and Windows Vista"