Acer Aspire 5560G-7809 Laptop: A Gamble Worth Taking

Typically it hasn’t been recommended to buy an Acer, at least in my circles. From the surveys I’ve seen generally Acer rankings are last of the major computer manufacturers. Astonishingly they rank close to the top of units sold. When I saw this, I deduced that Acer likely made possibly shabby computers sold at basement-prices to a portion of the population that was virgin. So I’m not sure what I was thinking when I bought my Aspire laptop except, “If that’s true, thats a really good price; I have to have it.” I had been using a ten-year-old laptop up to now so this was by best shot to the moon orbit.

I heard about laptops that were “Desktop Replacements”. I was hoping to find something in that area: a powerful-ish core in a mobile unit (with a decent gaming card). I’m not sure the Aspire 5560G-7809 [1][2] would qualify as one officially but performance in Windows and Linux is good (at least as best as I can qualify from a 10-year-old laptop perspective). The basic specs:

Specifications
Processor AMD A6-3420M Quad-core 1.50 GHz
Memory 4GB DDR3-1066/PC3-8500
Hard Drive 320 GB SATA 5400rpm
Optical Disk DVD-RAM/±R/±RW-Writer
Screen 15.6″ 1366 x 768 Glossy LED
Graphic Card Dual-Graphic -/AMD Radeon HD 7670M

All this for $550 dollars from TigerDirect. The closest comparable model was from HP for $750. I was really recommended to change the RAM speed so this was the first thing I did. Along with the laptop I bought a two stick pack of PC106-1333 8GB memory from PNY for $41 dollars only to have it be non-compatible (or I guess it could have been busted [but passed memory test]). After that I got it from crucial because of their Guaranteed-compatible promise and the speedup is noticeable.

I admit that I got the 5560G because of the graphic card to be able to play games, it was extremely appealing to me. The Notebookcheck tests on it seemed to me to be real good for a mobile graphic card. I was able to get into Dungeon and Dragons Online and the playability was good with the auto-detected medium-high graphic settings. Been thinking about SWTOR, hmm.

I’ll probably one day get a Solid state Drive down the road for it, the 5400 hard drive speed is definitely hard to miss at times. The one from crucial sounds pretty appealing, at $170 dollars though ughh, and I’m not sure I can live with 125GB.

The screen is nice and bright and seems to have good color replication though it does have a limited-gamut and viewing angle (a typical 1366 x 768 these days I’m told). It uses an LED which is nice; glossy, not so. Having it be so reflective worried me at first I was real surprised though when I turned it on how it made that shiny virtually indistinguishable.

Keyboard and touchpad feel good. The keyboard is full-size and key pushes offer an easy, uniform resistance. I really like the touchpad. The surface provides a nice bit of friction for feedback and the size fits really well. Wish manufacturers would get away from touchpad tapping on as default however (be nice if even there was a hardware way to turn it off).

The look and balance is nice as well (if you can’t tell the look from the photos). Doesn’t weigh too much and doesn’t feel off-kilter like other laptops I’ve experienced. The hinge is sturdy and pivots nicely.

Pluses and Minuses

  • + Price
  • + Graphic Card
  • – 5400rpm Hard Drive
  • – RAM Speed
  • – USB 2.0
  • ? USB port in front of DVD-writer

Linux

Site note first: I can’t believe I am saying it but I like Windows7. It’s well put together and has good help. Out of the box everything worked pretty well. What can I say though, I like hacking; plus I love open-source.

I’m not sure how I got so lucky buying this but after installing Linux everything just worked.

Upcoming Games – OpenLieroX

I like to try new games, I generally don’t write about them though. I often shuffle through free gamer and game tome on the weekends to see what budding developers are doing. Some of them are pretty cool but few are worth talking about as they are all usually early in development. I was pulled in my OpenLieroX though.

I wasn’t a Windows user for many years so I never heard of it. Liero is an real time, excessive carnaged, Worms-clone. Though I have tried Worms before (and really liked it) I didn’t know what to expect. So a good clone would be something I’d like to see in Linux. Clones in general are something that I’ve learned to avoid. Good games are alot more than ideas and usually only pretentious developers feel they replicate the time and detail of a commercial success.

I’ve been real fortunately lately with games. I’m still playing OpenTyrian which rocks, and Wesnoth is alot of fun so I really didn’t need anything else, but I got the bug, or should I say… worm.

To be technical, OpenLieroX is a clone of Liero Extreme the most popular of Liero clones. So OpenLieroX is a clone of the of a clone of a clone, ok, I got it… :) This sounded discouraging but OpenLieroX is actually a polished game with some nice features.

The plot of Liero is simple: destruction. Moving the worm about and firing various weapons is all Liero is basically about, but it’s Fun! Gameplay is smooth, there’s lots and lots of weapons, sound effects are all good too. Also there are a good number of mods to keep it interesting. Network play looks like it be a kick in the pants, and the CPU AI is about average. Maybe the screenshots will show it best.

The menu:

Local Play:

On a 747:

Now they’re trapped, think I’ll nuke ’em.

Upcoming Games - OpenLieroX

The developer has been working on this steady for quite a bit now and I like his efforts. Good too see good games come into Linux. OpenLieroX is an unexpected surprise and well worth the try.

Low processor gaming

Having a computer several years old doesn’t stop you from being able to play a good game on Linux. In fact, having an older computer is perfect with Linux – there are tons and tons of games! These games I’m running are on an iBook 300MHz processor and they all perform worthy.

Every several weeks I like to try a new game, lately I’ve got a chance to try three and I can say these are all excellent games.

Kobo Deluxe

Kobo Deluxe is a top down 2D shooter where we have to dodge enemy ships, evade bullets, and destroy space platforms. Kobo is a basic game but when dozens of bullets are flying your way and enemy pilots buzzing around you it is quite a challenge. Kobo Deluxe has 50 levels, only of which 24 have I got through after a good amount of play. There is quite a bit of braggart around for those who are able to finish it.

Light Burden Gaming

Ivan – Iter Vehemens ad Necem

“Iter Vehemens ad Necem” is latin for Violent Road to Death. Eck! Yes, my latin was a bit rusty too. Ivan looks to be one of the cooler games to play, I’ve only just installed it but it reminds me of my Ultima IV trudge through dungeons marathons. IVAN is a roguelike game with a graphical interface. No attack gremlin with level 14+ electrical mace :) here so it doen’st have a large learning scale. IVAN can be dived into without needing to read a manual. The objective of IVAN is to get the character to travel to a far off island by means of an underground dungeon to deliver a very important message (oh, and there happens to be a few monsters along the way.) IVAN is unique in rogue-likes and includes a detailed body part system and physical property system. Be careful not to die in IVAN as no magical potion will save you. Death = polly parrot. Ivan is a fun game and though I just started I think I’ll be playing it quite a bit. Unfortunately, I’m bogged by the bug that creates a Segmentation Fault on some PCs. Is it possible to play IVAN all the way thorough without saving?

Ivan pic

FYI, several fans have created a new forum for IVAN and a nice wiki that can be helpful.

OpenTyrian

Loitering the Linux Game Tome a few days ago, I gold mined OpenTyrian – right away my eyebrows raised. Tyrian was a blast DOS game on one of my earlier PC’s. Tyrian is a fast paced scrolling shooter that includes upgrades and challenging bosses. The port of the original Tyrian uses C and SDL and is nice and responsive though sound at time crackles on me.

OpenTyrian

Not many repositories have this game yet so it will need to be compiled from source. The original data files (also at the site) will need to be put in a “data” folder where the executable is.

I created a .desktop for OpenTyrian to show under the Gnome menu, but unfortunately the desktop launcher must look at the files relatively and thus can’t find the data files this way. The only way I could find a way around it was to create a script that cd‘d to the opentyrian folder and executed tyrian from there.

vim /usr/bin/opentyrian

#!/bin/bash
cd /home/user/opentyrian
./tyrian

To create the .desktop file:

vim ~/.local/share/applications/opentyrian.desktop

[Desktop Entry]
Name=OpenTyrian
Type=Application
Comment=OpenTyrian is a port of the classic DOS game Tyrian to C using SDL
Exec=opentyrian
TryExec=opentyrian
Icon=opentyrian
Categories=Game;ArcadeGame;

Here’s a few icons I extracted from the game for the .desktop file:

24×24
ot-24

32×32
ot-32

Original
origianl-ty

Usually it’s easiest to put them in the pixmaps directory:
sudo cp ~/Desktop/opentyrian-*.png /usr/share/pixmaps/opentyrian.png

In a few weeks, I’ll review my favorite Linux game: Wesnoth.

Cave Story a game Linux is lucky to have

As a hujungnormous fan of classic gaming. I like the bare bones aspect of classic games where concept goes farther than graphics. Classic gaming can still be a lot of fun if I get past the graphics and try becoming involved with the game. I’ve been lucky to stumble upon a couple ones lately. One is awesome, another is still in development.

Cave Story

Cave Story 1

Cave Story is about a robot ( Quote ) that magically ends up in a cave where Mimiga live (mean but adorable(?) bunny type creatures). I’m not gonna ruin the plot by giving a whole synopsis but the story is imaginative, detailed and interesting. Cave Story is a classic 2d platform game like a Mario Bros. or Contra. It has a lot of characters and deliciously diabolical evil bosses. The author spent 5 years on an off creating this and it feels well-polished. Wikipedia as a good entry on it.

Cave Story 2

Not too long ago the author release a Linux binary for x86, so for the free-software enthusiasts this may not be kosher, otherwise I like this game a lot. A fair challenge even for an adult. Check out the game tome for more.