Acer Extensa Laptop Review - A Symbol of Quality | Retro Reviews

A tribute and review of the best laptop I have ever used: the Acer Extensa 2900e. It is a workhorse which, seven years down the road, still ...

A tribute and review of the best laptop I have ever used: the Acer Extensa 2900e. It is a workhorse which, seven years down the road, still works like the first day it was unboxed: a testament to Acer's commitment to quality.

By Karn G. Bulsuk


Rating: 5.0

On September 9, 2005, I walked out of the computer store, hugging a small box. Inside contained the result of hard work and an obsessive saving of money, to buy what was my first laptop: an Acer Extensa 2900e.

Costing 35,550 baht (US $870, given historical exchange rates), it boasted a state-of-the-art Intel Celeron M running at 1.2 Ghz, 256 mb RAM, a 30 GB hard disk and integrated Intel graphics. It had three USB 2.0 ports, a CD reader/DVD burner combo (a rarity in those days, especially at that price range), as well as a serial and one parallel printer port.

The keyboard is surprisingly comfortable to type on.
It's a rugged "made in Taiwan" machine which went with me everywhere, from the streets of Bangkok to Japanese university campuses. It survived being outside in heavy rains and typhoon, protected only by the soft case that came with the machine. It travelled with me on flights to Hong Kong and worked for even more years in Thailand.

In 2011, seven full years after its purchase, the machine still works.

I never expected the laptop to last this long. The only changes to the machine was the addition of 512 mb of RAM to speed the machine up (256 mb was simply too little to handle Windows XP smoothly), while I was forced to replace the hard disk when it finally gave way and crashed in 2008. Other than that, the machine still works wonders.

The quality of the build simply cannot be matched, with solid plastic which feels substantial. Unlike some laptops, typing doesn't cause the entire chassis to depress. The machine feels like it was built to withstand real work, and built to last. Typing on the Acer is a dream, with responsive keys which gives you a satisfying click each time you push down.

The touchpad gradually lost its coating, but it was still useable
The touch pad, despite showing its age, is still surprisingly responsive and accurate, and is enough to play a fairly mean game of Command and Conquer.

It ran Windows XP when I first bought the machine, and because of its modest specifications, it will stay on Windows XP. Even though it may not be state-of-the-art, I managed to get Doom 3 running on the machine, which is no easy task for any machine of that era.

This laptop computer is testament to the quality and attention to detail that Acer used to put into their laptops. I'm not a big fan of their current line up of computers in terms of the design and the position of the ports - why place a USB port right beside the DVD drive, where an average thumb drive will block it? This laptop is a relic from the days Acer was still fighting for market supremacy, and a reminder that with some effort, Acer can really make a great computer.

The lid is opened using a latch, while the CD Writer/DVD reader sits on the front. Three LED lights show whether the computer is powered, whether the battery was charging and one which showed whether bluetooth was enabled. This model did not have bluetooth.


There are ports which have been forgotten, such as the printer port on the left and the parallel port on the right. A dial-up modem is included, normal for machines of that era. The USB ports were USB 2.0, which were just being rolled out in the day.

The left of the laptop boasts an infared port, used for printing on portable printers in the day, as well as wirelessly syncing devices such as classic Nokia and Sony Ericsson phones. The speaker was not loud, but it got the job done, while a microphone input is provided, along with a microphone output and a physical wifi switch.

The lone USB port seen here helped to provide easy expansion to a variety of external devices such as USB hubs and external DVD writer, prolonging the life of the laptop.
The hard disk was user removable by unscrewing the bottom and sliding the unit out from the side. Heat would be ventilated from the grills here.
Adorned with the Acer logo, it looked ultra modern back in 2005

The back lid, sans, battery. RAM could be upgraded by opening up the back middle panel, where there was room for two RAM modules. Note that this model was made in Taiwan.

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Karn Bulsuk: Full Speed Ahead: Acer Extensa Laptop Review - A Symbol of Quality | Retro Reviews
Acer Extensa Laptop Review - A Symbol of Quality | Retro Reviews
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Karn Bulsuk: Full Speed Ahead
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