The new series of Acer Timeline laptops offers an enormous battery life; up to eight hours, which sounds likes a very bold claim. There are three sizes of chassis in the Timeline series starting with a 13.3-inch screen model that weighs 1.6kg and which has no optical drive. Then we have the 14.1-inch Timeline at 2.0kg which includes a dual layer DVD writer and, at the top of the tree, we have the 2.4kg version with a 15.6-inch screen.
Once you’ve selected the chassis you are faced with another choice, this time for the processor. The cheaper version uses a 1.4GHz Core Solo U3500 processor or you can pay an extra £200 for a 1.4GHz Core 2 Duo U9400. The stack of additional cash pays for a second core in the processor along with an extra cell in the battery.
The hardware inside the Timeline makes the most of Intel’s low power technology. In addition to the lower power Core processor there is an Intel GS45 with ICH9-M Southbridge and Intel GM45 graphics. The wireless is also provided by Intel in the shape of a 5100 AGN chip.
Although the Intel GM45 graphics handle HD movie playback on the 1,366 x 768 resolution screen very competently, and display the Vista Home Premium desktop just fine, they are far too feeble for any form of up-to-date gaming.
Our review sample 14.1-inch Timeline 4810T came with the dual core U9400 processor and a price tag just under £750. We’re talking about a laptop that is relatively expensive and, while it doesn’t look especially chic or luxurious, the chassis is slimline and measures 336mm wide by 241mm deep and is only 27mm thick.
Despite its prodigious eight hour life the 5600mAh battery doesn’t protrude from the rear of the chassis. We ran continuous loops of PCMark05 and the battery lasted for exactly four hours, which is equivalent to eight hours of regular use, confirming Acer’s claim about battery life in the new Timeline.
The key to this impressively long battery life must surely be the high degree of efficiency that Intel achieves with the hardware used in this model. The processor draws very little power and therefore produces little heat and requires the minimum of cooling.
But although the Timeline requires little in the way of cooling, Acer has developed a system called Laminar Wall Jet Cooling that directs cool air as it is drawn in through the inlet duct to make the system still more efficient. The combination of these features meant that the temperature of the base of the chassis didn’t rise above 35 degrees during our testing, which is impressively cool.
Acer has included a decent array of ports and connectors with one USB port on the right side and two USB ports on the left, along with headset jacks and VGA and HDMI graphics outputs. On the front there’s a card reader. Our only real gripe about the layout is that the HDMI port is next to a USB port and it is easy to confuse the two.
The keyboard feels firm and supportive when you type but we were unimpressed by the layout as the Enter key is inboard of the Page Up/Page Down buttons. Added to that, the mouse buttons are formed in a bar rather than two separate buttons and are somewhat awkward to operate. The multi-touch touchpad allows you to use gestures to control the screen, which is a novel touch for the Windows fraternity, however it isn’t a patch on the slick and sophisticated Apple control system.
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