Pulses are unlikely to race in the vicinity of the ACi VibE E1500. You could even say that its exterior is a bit, well, dull. But the VibE is nothing if not functional.

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Kitted out with a sensibly sized keyboard and comfortable wrist support, the ACi is pleasantly user-friendly. It's also slim and light enough to be highly portable.

Some of the components here are a little long in the tooth, but most of them are strong inclusions for the money. At the VibE's core is a 1.6GHz Pentium M with 2MB of Level 2 cache and a 533MHz front-side bus. The ACi should have no problem with general tasks thanks to its 512MB of RAM – hardly a given at this price point.

The laptop is also pretty well endowed in the storage department: an 80GB hard drive should be ample for most people, while a dual-layer DVD writer will be handy for archiving. The VibE features the usual internal modem, ethernet and 802.11 a/b/g wireless connectivity, and there's a decent selection of ports and slots.

So where have compromises been made to keep the price down? More than anything else, the graphics have suffered, relying on Intel's slightly lethargic integrated 915 chipset. Nonetheless, this is capable of powering the 15in screen to its native 1,024x768 resolution without the slightest fuss.

Perhaps the most unusual feature here is the integrated sub-woofer. Sunken into the underside of the VibE, this merrily pumps out low frequencies and adds surprising depth to music.

Considering the ageing spec of the ACi, it came as little surprise to find that its performance was rather below par. Our game demos caused particular difficulties, with frame rates dwindling into single figures. The WorldBench 5 real-world performance score was a rather lowly 72. On a positive note, battery performance was extremely good. The ACi lasted 224 minutes.

ACi VibE E1500: Specs

  • 1.6GHz Pentium M processor
  • 512MB RAM
  • 15in TFT
  • Intel 915GM graphics
  • 80GB hard drive
  • dual-layer DVD drive
  • 10/100 ethernet
  • 802.11a/b/g
  • Intel Pro wireless
  • built-in V.92 56Kbps modem
  • ports: 4x USB, 1x FireWire, 1x VGA, headphones, microphone, Line-In, 5-in-1 card reader
  • 330x61x274mm
  • 2.48kg
  • 1.6GHz Pentium M processor
  • 512MB RAM
  • 15in TFT
  • Intel 915GM graphics
  • 80GB hard drive
  • dual-layer DVD drive
  • 10/100 ethernet
  • 802.11a/b/g
  • Intel Pro wireless
  • built-in V.92 56Kbps modem
  • ports: 4x USB, 1x FireWire, 1x VGA, headphones, microphone, Line-In, 5-in-1 card reader
  • 330x61x274mm
  • 2.48kg

OUR VERDICT

It may not have the most electrifying pace, but the ACi VibE 1500 would happily suit undemanding users with modest requirements. Compared with similarly priced rivals, the ACi strikes us as a very solid prospect.

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