Solution providers dealing with desktop notebook sales have had a pretty easy time of it. The majority of customers prefer the Hewlett-Packards, Dells, Sharps and Toshibas of the world, since they can expect a certain level of quality from each well-known brand. However, there are many other notebook options out there from vendors that many times fly under the mainstream radar.
ACER ASPIRE 1520
Acer America is one such vendor. The CRN Test Center has reviewed many of Acer's products and found that the company produces a quality notebook and has a good channel program.
Acer's Aspire 1520 desktop notebook PC is a nice alternative to the traditional desktop tower. It is finished in a grey metallic, and components such as the keyboard and the screen bezel are accented in black. The Aspire 1520 features a 1.8GHz AMD Athlon 64 3000+processor designed specifically for notebooks. An AMD chipset in a notebook computer was unheard of a few years ago because of heat problems, but AMD has since come a long way and now provides a powerful processor for this Acer notebook.
The unit also includes 512 Mbytes of memory and an 80-Gbyte hard drive. Other features include a VIAN K8N800 graphics card with integrated UniChrom2 graphics, an integrated DVD-Dual drive (DVD+/-RW), wired and wireless NICs, four USB 2.0 ports, one IEEE 1394 port, a 56-Kbps modem and a VGA output.
CRN Test Center engineers were excited to see an included parallel port on the back of the machine. With the popularity of USB and its marriage to printers, nine out of 10 notebooks these days rarely have a parallel port on them. This feature allows solution providers to easily incorporate the Acer Aspire into offices using legacy equipment that still use parallel-port technology, and makes for a great selling point.
The Aspire 1520 features a 15-inch display. CRN Test Center engineers were disappointed in the display's resolution. Regardless of whether the battery pack was plugged in or removed, the screen still looked a tiny bit fuzzy, which seemed problematic. Even adjusting the display settings did not clear up this problem.
CRN Test Center engineers were impressed with the unit's affordability. Priced at $1,099, Acer's Aspire 1520 desktop replacement is well within reason and provides high-end features for the price. Acer offers a one-year warranty, which should help ease any customer concerns about buying from a lesser-known notebook vendor.
Acer is a very channel-focused company. Its single-tier channel program offers all partners the same pricing, and all partners are eligible to gain access to Acer's product line without being tied to rebate programs. Acer provides pre- and post-sales support, partner access to local Acer personnel, competitive information, bidding assistance and MDF. Acer declined to disclose average reseller margins.
EUROCOM D900T PHANTOM
Another option for solution providers looking to offer notebooks that are off the beaten path is Eurocom. The company has begun to flood the channel with high-end workstation notebooks, but a word of warning: Eurocom's machines are priced at a premium.
Base-model designs start at $2,699, but for the price, the machine offers incredibly high-end features, allowing the unit to integrate into almost any business and also guarantee a long life cycle. CRN Test Center Engineers felt that Eurocom's D900T Phantom has transformed high-end notebook-building into an art.
If money is no object, then the D900T Phantom mobile workstation notebook is perfect as a desktop replacement—and then some. The unit is huge and includes a 17-inch screen. The D900T Phantom is also loaded with multiple drives and accessories, including an integrated PC camera, TV tuners with dual-monitor support via a DVI-I port, a parallel port, four USB 2.0 ports, two FireWire ports, S-Video input and a 7-in-1 media-card reader.
The D900T Phantom comes with a 3.4GHz socket PLGA775 Pentium 4 CPU with 2 Gbytes of DDR2 SDRAM and also includes an Nvidia GeForce 6800 graphics card, which provides tremendous multimedia capabilities.
The D900T Phantom comes pre-loaded with full licenses for the software needed to power the included accessories. Avermedia, for example, provides software to easily control the unit's TV capabilities, including an integrated remote. One gripe about the remote-control capabilities is that the remote control can be used to shut down the D900T Phantom but cannot be used to turn it on.
The D900T Phantom also features instant-on capability, which is becoming a must-have feature in high-end notebooks.
The unit tested by CRN Test Center engineers cost $4,820. The D900T Phantom is covered by a standard one-year return-to-factory warranty.
Eurocom's three-tier channel program separates partners based on volume commitments, technical expertise, financial backing and market focus. Partners can choose to configure notebooks to meet customer needs and set their own prices based on configuration. Systems configured by solution providers average about a 10 percent reseller margin, while average reseller margins for barebones and white-box programs are set by the integrator. Color schemes and/or logos can be added to the notebook for a customized appearance.