You know the drill by now: Apple leads, darn near everyone else follows. So it comes as no particular surprise that a year after Apple shipped the world's first laptop with a 17-inch display, Wintel manufacturers are following suit. Normally we aren't all that interested in the whole follow-the-leader spiel (well, unless there's a copycat situation just screaming for a lawsuit, in which case we're all over that action like fur on a Wookiee), but when faithful viewer James informed us that CNET had reviewed a new 17-inch portable from Acer, we just had to check it out; after all, Acer's the company that blessed the world with the red Ferrari notebook complete with digitized engine-rev sounds that so perfectly complements analyst Rob Enderle's race car bed and Jeff Gordon pajamas.
Well, friends, we find that we can't really discuss the product's specs in much detail, because one factor is so overwhelmingly obnoxious that we find ourselves utterly horrified, and yet we cannot look away: the new Acer 17-inch laptop may not look like a car, but it darn near weighs as much as one. According to CNET, it weighs in at a flabbergastingly flabby "nearly 16 pounds"; Acer's web site clarifies that to be 15.7 pounds "with combo drive and battery." Note that Apple's 17-inch PowerBook weighs a mere 6.9 pounds by comparison, which makes the two products look like some forgotten set of Jared Fogle before-and-after photos that Subway forgot to use in an ad.
In the "Glass Half Full" statement of the year, CNET notes that the Aspire 1710 is "still easier to carry or stow away than a desktop." Well, yeah, guys, but so's a dead trout, and that doesn't mean we want to drag one along on a business trip slung over one shoulder. And it's only a marginally true statement in the first place, since the original Macintosh 128K was a full-fledged desktop system, and at 16.5 pounds, it was less than a pound heavier than the new Aspire-- and it had a handle.
So why all the extra weight? Well, we did a little digging-- the most we could without actually having performed "investigative journalism"-- and we noticed that while the PowerBook has a 1440x900 widescreen display, the Aspire has a standard 1280x1024 resolution. Do the math and you'll find that the Aspire packs a whopping 14,720 more pixels than Apple's offering; that's over 1.1% more screen real estate! So as far as we can make out, each pixel above the first 1,296,000 adds a little under a hundredth of an ounce to a portable system's overall weight. That doesn't sound like much, but as the weight of the Aspire proves, they can really add up-- so much so, that PC Mall describes the new Aspire as a "Notebook" in its title, but lists it in its "DESKTOP COMPUTERS" category, presumably because of its weight class.
We did notice one other little thing: whereas the PowerBook carries a sticker price of $2,999, the Aspire (at least in the configuration we looked at) costs only a smidge over half that: $1,599. More than half the price, more than twice the weight; that almost makes sense, you know? Think of it this way: all the money you'd save by getting the Aspire instead of the PowerBook would go straight to your chiropractor. Then again, Wintel purchasers are infamously blind to "total cost of ownership," so if Apple really wants to compete with the Aspire, we recommend that the PowerBook immediately be revised to have trains engraved all over its cover and make "choo-choo" noises upon startup. Now how could that possibly fail?