Acer is the first of the leading notebook vendors to bring an AMD Athlon 64-based notebook to market, in the shape of the Aspire 1500. Priced from as little as £999 (inc. VAT), the Aspire 1500 is a fully-featured desktop replacement system weighing around 3.4kg depending on configuration. It's primarily aimed at business professionals who also want to use their computer for entertainment outside of work time.
The are three models in the Aspire 1500 range at launch. Hitting the £999 (inc. VAT) 'sweet spot' is the 1501LCe, which features the Athlon 64 3000+ with 512MB of DDR333 RAM (upgradeable to 2GB), a 40GB hard drive and a DVD/CD-RW combo drive, plus a 15in. XGA display driven by ATI's 64MB M10 Radeon 9600 graphics accelerator. Wired (gigabit) and wireless (802.11g) networking is provided, along with a floppy drive, dual Type PC Card slots and a 3-in-1 flash memory card reader. You also get a good set of ports: 4 USB 2.0, FireWire, parallel, VGA and S-Video-out. This is hardly an entry-level specification, but the £1,199 (inc. VAT) 1501LMi model adds an SXGA+ display, a multi-format DVD burner and a 60GB hard drive, while the top-of-the-range 1503LMi (£1,299 inc. VAT) rounds off the feature list with an Athlon 64 3200+ processor. The Aspire 1500 is not a notebook designed for use on the move, although Acer reckons you'll get between 2 and 3 hours' life if you do use it away from a mains power source. Neither the optical nor the floppy drive is modular, though, so there's no option to fit a second battery if you want more mobile uptime. The Athlon 64 processor has performed well in benchmark tests running 32-bit applications on a 32-bit operating system, and Microsoft's 64-bit version of Windows XP for AMD processors has just become available for download in beta form. So the well-priced Aspire 1500 should prove a tempting prospect both for power users of today's software and for early adopters who are keen to run 64-bit applications when they arrive. We expect to test a review sample of the Aspire 1500 within the next few weeks, so keep checking back for our verdict.