AcerAnyWare 1120NX. (notebook computer) (Evaluation)
by David English
With the recent flood of notebook computers, it's harder than ever to find a genuinely unique notebook. The AcerAnyWare 1120NX isn't dramatically different, but it does have a number of small, well-planned features that make it stand out from the crowd.
The first thing you notice is the AnyWare's large VGA screen; it's a full ten inches measured diagonally. The screen isn't as bright as many I've seen, but the size more than makes up for any lack of intensity.
The AnyWare comes with a 20-MHz 386SX processor (which is pretty much the norm these days for a notebook computer); a sturdy case; and a choice of 20MB, 40MB, or 60MB hard drive. The hard drives are especially fast; the average seek time for the 60MB drive we tested was just under 14 milliseconds. The unit uses two batteries which change over automatically, giving it a combined battery life of more than three hours. The twin battery system has the added benefit of letting you trim the AnyWare's 7.4 pounds by 12 ounces when you carry a single battery.
The unit really shines in the area of expandability. Besides the usual VGA, serial, and parallel ports, it has ports for a second serial device, an external floppy drive, an external keyboard/keypad, and a threeslot expansion chassis. While the unit comes with just 1MB of RAM, you can bring it up to 5MB with user-installable DRAM cards. You can upgrade the BIOS with a similar user-installable card.
No matter how well a company designs a laptop, it's even better when you can set it up just the way you want it. The AnyWare has the best setup program I've seen. You can configure the second serial port for an external serial device, for a built-in modem, or as a nonworking port in order to extend the life of your batteries. You can set the unit to boot from C:, to boot from A:, or to automatically look for A: and then C:. You can even create two sets of power-saving options to shut down the LCD backlight and hard drive and activate the doze and sleep modes. It's easy to switch between your favorite power-saving battery configuration and an optimized AC-power setup.
On the downside, I didn't care for the lazy-L arrangement of the cursor keys (I prefer the traditional upside-down T pattern), the righthand Shift key is too small and therefore too easy to miss, and the unit is a tad on the heavy side.
The many small advantages to the AcerAnyWare 1120NX, when taken together, add up to a very attractive notebook computer.