Lack of HDMI aside the Ferrari One has competent connectivity. Like most netbooks it has three USB ports in total, though none offer eSATA or ‘sleep & charge’, while a VGA video output, memory card slot, audio jacks (1x headphone, 1x microphone) and an Ethernet port round off the options. This is all pretty consistent with the netbook mantra. Given the price it’s hard to complain about the lack of any niceties, including an optical drive, which this machine is far too small and slim to incorporate.
It’s not too small or slim to have a decent display, though – quite the opposite in fact. LED backlit and with a roomy 1,366 x 768 native resolution, it’s a really great display to work on and to enjoy video content on. We were particularly impressed with the brightness of the display, which went some way to forgiving the predictable glossy, reflective finish. Viewing angles aren’t a strong point, but neither are they a great weakness, so overall it’s a good’un.
Overall performance is impressive, too. In PCMark Vantage the Ferrari One outperformed the HP Pavilion dv2-1030ea and Acer Aspire Timeline 4810T-353, both of which used single-core ULV CPUs. Until we get a look at Intel’s new CULV offerings it’s hard to see how this stacks up, but for the money the Ferrari One offers very good performance, particularly in light of its HD video playback and modest gaming abilities.
Unfortunately, where battery life is concerned, things do take a light jolt. In the low-intensity Reader test the Acer managed a creditable four hours and 50 minutes, but this dropped markedly to three hours, 35 minutes in the Productivity segment. Still not terrible and it may be enough for many, but it’s clear that when the machine gets busier its battery life takes a large hit. Larger than you’d normally expect at the very least.
A clue to the cause of this difference can be found in how noisy the machine can get. In truth this isn’t a massive surprise, AMD laptops tend to run warmer and noisier than their Intel counterparts, but in an ultra-portable/netbook like this it’s an important factor. Even when idle the fan runs at a noticeable speed, ramping up considerably when the system is under stress. This constant spinning does keep the unit cool, but clearly it’s also having a negative impact on battery life.
Whichever way you look at it, as a netbook or as an ultra-portable, this is an impressive and enticing proposition. For the price the Acer Ferrari One offers excellent performance – including smooth 1080p video playback – while the balance of features, portability and usability is just right. But it does have weaknesses, namely the lack of HDMI, its innate Ferrari-ness and its okay but not outstanding battery life. It would be foolish to dismiss this machine for these problems alone, but they do just preclude it from an award.