Acer Aspire laptops have had steady following and this loyalty was rewarded last year when the first Aspire Timeline machines arrived which put a heavy emphasis on extended battery life. Those first models boasted up to 8 hours’ longevity and now the new Timeline X range promises a further boost to 12 hours under optimum conditions.
Acer’s slogan for the Timeline X series is “Battery life, Performance, Thin and Light” and of the four models available (11.6-inch, 13.3-inch, 14.0-inch and 15.6-inch screens), we got our hands on the 14.0-inch 4820TG to see how well Acer’s claims match up to the real deal.
Starting with thinness and lightness, the 4820TG measures 342 x 245 x 25.4mm, which fits into the sub-one-inch category, and it weighs in at 2.2kg which is about average for a 14-inch display. It certainly looks chic enough with its satin finished black aluminium cover, and it feels sturdy and secure, with a screen that opens as wide as 165 degrees. The CineCrystal display itself has a standard widescreen 16:9 ratio and has a native resolution of 1366 x 768 HD (which is increasingly popular in this class).
A quick circuit of the exterior reveals a multi-card reader at the front with VGA and HDMI ports on the left side, accompanied by Ethernet, a single USB 2.0 plus standard audio inputs. The right side is much more crowded with three more USBs crammed too close together for simultaneously inserted appliances to fit comfortably, alongside a DVD player. The keyboard has broad, separated keys in the ‘chiclet’ style and we tested their performance with a legal PA who was impressed with their firmness and ease of use, although she would have preferred a concave rather than flat design.
Returning to Acer’s mantra for the Timeline X collection, we figured overall performance wasn’t going to disappoint as the 4820TG is powered by an Intel Core i5-430M CPU clocked at 2.27GHz with 4GB of DDR3 memory, which is more than sufficient to handle multiple tasks without groaning: and that proved to be the case.
Of course, every good CPU needs an equally powerful graphics card and Acer has opted for the ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650, which means that online shooters at less than maximum spec will run virtually judder-free. Although this model comes with Dolby Home Theatre v3, the surround sound is still nothing to get excited about and you’d still do best to plug it into an external sound system.
DVD movies appeared bright and well defined on the 1366 x 768 screen and this was still the case when switching to Acer’s proprietary PowerSmart system (all done instantly thanks to the dedicated button above the keyboard) which is at the heart of its battery saving ambitions.
The 320GB SATA hard drive is designed to use 40 percent less power than standard models, the cooling system employs low-energy fans and the power supply automatically cuts off when the battery is charged. On ‘normal’ usage (Internet, Word documents, Excel and some music) we achieved a trouble-free six hours and at minimum settings a good eight and three-quarter hours was possible, which has to be the most impressive selling point here.
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