Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Acer Aspire 4315 short review and Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy) install

We got an Acer Aspire 4315 since we needed an extra laptop around. As both the 6910p and dv6000 is being used normally. We wanted something cheap for e-mail, skype, browsing, watching dvd and document editing. The Acer Aspire 4315 seems to fit the bill especially the price.

Specifications


  • Processor: Celeron M 540 1.86GHz, 1MB Cache, 533MHz FSB, 64-bit capable
  • RAM: 512MB DDR2-667(1 x 512MB)
  • HDD: 80GB 5400rpm SATA
  • Display: 14.1" WXGA CrystalBrite widescreen (1280 x 800)
  • Optical: DVD+CDRW Combo
  • Wireless: Yes 802.11b⁄g
  • Graphics: Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100 up to 358MB
  • Firewire⁄S-video⁄FIR: No⁄Yes⁄No
  • VGA Out: Yes
  • USB Ports: x 3
  • Ethernet 10⁄100: Yes
  • Express Card slot: Yes
  • Battery: 6 cell


Cost


Acer Aspire 4315 = $598
512mb upgrade = $30
512mb clearance and bundle = -$30
we got the display model as its the last in store = -$30
acer cashback promo = -$99
Total cost = $469 NZD ~ $356 USD

Short Review


What have we got for $470 bucks? A pretty decent laptop if you ask me. Build quality is pretty good. Keyboard is pretty sturdy and no flex, in fact its probably better than our HP dv6000. The hinges is firm and solid, not as good as the HP 6910p but good enough. Performance wise its just as good as the HP 6910p on most everyday tasks, and what we intended to use it for (e-mail, skype, browsing, watching dvd and document editing).

Minor problems as other owners of Acer 4315 has stated:
- touchpad is very near the keyboard, I tend to touch it accidentally while typing.
- speaker sound is a bit low, however quality is pretty good. Maybe better sounding than the 6910p. It does not sound like a tin can, just not as loud as you would expect.

Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy)


The Acer Aspire 4315 comes with Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy), which is great and no need to pay Windows Vista that I don't use. I immediately installed 8.04 Hardy on it, I used the alternative CD since that is what I downloaded. I did some post install steps which came from this guide.

Status










Ethernetworks
Wirelessworks, needs post install steps
Videoworks
Suspend and Hibernateworks, suspend works with updated hardy kernel
Splash screen and virtual terminalsworks
Harddisk Power managementneeds post install steps
Audio and Micworks, needs post install steps for proper resume
Screen brightnessworks


Post Install Steps



Wireless

The atheros card will only work with madwifi-ng, stated on this guide

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install build-essential
wget -c http://snapshots.madwifi.org/special/madwifi-ng-r3366+ar5007.tar.gz
tar xvf madwifi-ng-r3366+ar5007.tar.gz
cd madwifi-ng-r3366+ar5007
sudo make install
sudo modprobe ath_pci
sudo modprobe wlan_scan_sta


Audio and Mic

After resuming it doesn't have audio and mic. There are some suggestions to do "sudo /sbin/alsa force-reload" which works. I find it annoying as the volume control applet will complain and needs to be reloaded. What I did was to edit /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base and added this at the end of the file


# properly detect the sound again after resume
options snd-hda-intel model=acer


Take note after reboot, volume control will be different. Re-adjust accordingly.

The mic does work, but its very hard to fine tune the proper level. Too low and I hardly hear myself, too loud and it shuts itself or there are lots of crackle. I ended up just plugging in a front external mic.

Harddisk Power Management

Just like the HP 6910p, the Acer Aspire 4315 came with a Hitachi disk (Hitachi HTS542580K9SA00). This also suffers from the over aggressive power management. I used my old guide, but the script will not work as in Gutsy its placed on "/etc/acpi/resume.d" which is not sourced anymore, I placed the script on "/etc/pm/sleep.d" on Hardy. There is a launchpad bug filed on this, apparently Ubuntu changed things a bit.

Summary


The Acer Aspire 4315 is a great laptop, cost 1/7th of the HP 6910p. I can surely say that the value is more than 1/7th of the HP 6910p. Comes with Ubuntu 7.10 pre-installed, installing Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy is also straight forward with a few post install steps. Now time to wait for that cash back check to arrive.


7 comments:

the Pontificator said...

I'd hardly call it a great laptop. It's cheap but that's really it's only good feature. The trackpad is too big and interferes with typing-very poor design.

Sleep does not work at all.

Sound is poor-volume non-existent.

Acer support is non-existent

Cashback takes forever and they'll try to scam you into an "extended" warranty.

networking is sloppy, sometimes it's a bit difficult to find the network-although this is probably more of a software issue.

If you don't mind these problems then it's ok for a cheap laptop, however you get what you pay for.

Jun Yamog said...

- yes trackpad/touchpad is the complains that I see. My wife is fine with it as its primarily used for browsing and we tried it on retailer. This short coming was not surprising to us, I have also indicated above echo the this like the others.

- Sleep/suspend does work. It did not work with the first kernel's of hardy. Updated hardy kernels works with it.

- Yes sound volume is low, but I would not call it as non existent.

- Acer support does exists, I have unfortunately used it 3x (long story). Their call center is not that fast and confused, customer service dept is alright. It does exists but there are some areas where its poor, call center and repair contractor in Wellington. The customer service dept and AU repair center is pretty good.

- Yeah my cashback hasn't arrived. They actually declined after several weeks, then I sent them an email. After that my status is now being processed.

- Networking is fine, signal is not as strong as HP business laptops (6910p or nx8220). At par with HP consumer laptop DV6000 and ZX5000. I am using a linksys wrt54g as my AP.

I still believe its a great laptop for its price. Its just 1/7th of the price of a 6910p. The customer support and especially the cashback are the thorny bits, which probably deserves are another writeup.

Irhad said...

The Acer Aspire Laptop is perfect for its price range.

If someone is after a better design or more performance out of their computer then look at an item in a higher price range, common logic.

As for me I made a purchase of an Acer Aspire 4315, installed and tested many linux distributions and found the best to be either ubuntu (any of its derivatives work well too) or Fedora.

I have purchased and added 2GB of ram in the empty slot above the default 512MB, making it 2.5GB of ram, the video and overall performance has improved to a great extent that you can compare it to a dual core desktop.

I recommend owners of this model to try it and prove me wrong.

blushyler said...

I have Acer Aspire 4315, Intel Celeron 550..

What is the best upgrade I could possibly have?


Please give me the Specs?

tnx

Jun Yamog said...

Normally on a laptop you can upgrade the memory w/o voiding the warranty. You can upgrade the hard disk, optical drive.

If you are technically oriented it possible to upgrade the processor, but voiding your warranty.

Ask your vendor which items you can upgrade w/o voiding the warranty.

Please read the specs above.

bigblen said...

blushyler: I'd say best upgrade is to add memory. Its fairly easy to do yourself. I got another 512MB from DSE for $14.95 (making my total price ($498 on sale - $99 cashback received + 15 RAM) = $415

Jun - I'm glad to accidentally find this blog and info about the HDD parking. My load cycle count is already up near 200K :(

Have to agree that both internal and external mic inputs are the crappiest part of this machine.

Jun Yamog said...

Wow bigblen $415? I am assuming its NZD since you got it from DSE. Thats even a better deal that what I got mine for.