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May 17, 2010

The Acer Timeline Series: Affordable, All-day Computing

I’m a power user. I love high-end graphics. SSDs. Gobs of RAM. WEI scores that run in the 6’s and 7’s across the board. That kind of stuff.

But that kind of gear isn’t for everyone. Not only because machines with a full complement of top-of-the-line components are expensive, but also because most Windows users simply don’t need that kind of horsepower. What they need is a box with enough power to work fast and smooth, enough battery life to get them through the day, and a price point that won’t empty their wallet.

That’s exactly where the Acer Timeline Series laptops come in. I’ve been working with two of the models this week – the 15” Acer Timeline 5810TZ, and the 14” Acer Timeline 4810T, and can confidently say that if you’re looking for a good everyday machine to handle your web browsing, email, office work and casual entertainment, these machines are right in your wheelhouse.


I spent most of my time this week with the larger 5810TZ, which looks and feels great. It has a soft matte finish on the aluminum lid and polycarbonate body which looks sufficiently different from your average black or silver laptop, but is reserved enough to blend in around the office. It’s a good compromise between individual style and business-appropriate. The 5810TZ was surprisingly light and thin as well – it measures less than an inch thick and weighs only about 5lbs, which makes it a joy to carry around the office from meeting to meeting.

The 5810TZ I used was powered by Pentium U4100 running at 1.3GHz and Intel Integrated Graphics, and sported a very bright 1366 x 768 resolution screen. You’ll notice immediately that these are pretty mid-range guts, but that’s what the Timeline series was designed for – everyday computing. Under normal workloads (i.e., running Office, IE 8 and a few other apps) I found the 5810TZ to be responsive and snappy. Windows opened quickly and I didn’t notice much lag when opening large files like big PowerPoint presentations. The smaller 4810T has almost identical specs, but swaps the Pentium U4100 for a Core2 Solo U3500 running at 1.4Hz. Each has VGA and HDMI for easy video out, 4 USB 2.0 ports (most laptops of this size only have 2 or 3, so that’s an advantage if you use a lot of peripherals), and a multi-format card reader.


Both machines have a very, very comfortable island style keyboard. The keys are very well spaced which I noticed reduced mistypes. The multi-touch trackpad was easy to use, and there’s a very convenient on/off button so you can easily turn it off when using an external mouse. This kind of hardware toggle is a nice feature, as I’m not a big fan of having to go into Control Panel to turn it off manually.

Due to Acer’s creative engineering and Intel’s ULV processors, battery life is outstanding. Acer gets over 8 hours of power according to the industry-standard MobileMark benchmark, but I was only able to coax about 6.25 out of the 5810t. Still, that’s really impressive and better than most laptops in this class. I’m chalking this up to “your mileage may vary”.

I did a quick Bing search for pricing, and found prices that are almost shockingly low for this kind of hardware. The best price I found on Bing Cashback was $441 for the 5810TZ,and the best I found was $497 for the 4810T. That’s crazy cheap for a solid ultrathin with that kind of battery life, and makes the Acer Timeline Series an even more compelling choice if you’re looking for a dependable everyday laptop.