Acer TravelMate 3202XMi review
If you’re looking for top-notch hardware, the Acer TravelMate 3202XMi delivers by the bucketload. For £978, you get Centrino technology – a 1.6GHz Pentium M CPU and 802.11b/g wireless – plus 512MB of PC2700 memory, an 80GB hard disk and a DVD writer. And if that wasn’t enough, there’s Bluetooth, gigabit Ethernet and an SD/MMC and Memory Stick card reader too.
Fortunately, there’s hardly any compromise in terms of ergonomics. The gunmetal chassis looks stylish and it’s relatively light at 2.4kg. Being only 250mm deep, it will fit onto more train/aeroplane tray tables than others. Plus, the battery will last up to three hours, 40 minutes without mains power.
We like the 14.1in TFT just as much as the others on test – it’s quite bright and viewing angles are perfectly adequate for several people to gather round and view presentations. Sure, it pales against the quality of the latest desktop TFTs, but few notebook screens are noticeably better.
There are plenty of other reasons to like the Acer. The front panel, for example, has two buttons, which determine whether the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios are on or not. There’s also infrared, FireWire and a modem, but note that there are only two USB 2 ports.
For £82, you can add a port replicator, which connects to the proprietary connector on the rear. Unusually, it isn’t protected from dust or knocks like the other models on test. Business users with Cisco wireless network hardware will be pleased to know that the 3202XMi is compatible with LEAP (Lightweight Extensible Authentication Protocol).
Those who appreciate some 3D grunt in their notebook will love the Mobility Radeon 9700 graphics, which is by far the most capable on test, happily coping with Unreal Tournament 2004 at 1,024 x 768 with high detail levels. Just beware of the noisy fan that kicks in when you’re pushing the GPU.
Not everything’s rosy, though. Build quality isn’t fantastic, and our panel of judges rated the Acer the lowest overall. The flimsy lid is the main problem, providing little protection from knocks. Then there’s the warranty, which isn’t very business-like at a mere 12 months of collect-and-return cover, albeit international. With no upgrade options, you’ll need to make your own arrangements if you want longer cover or on-site service.
Ultimately, the Acer won’t suit businesses demanding hefty security and bespoke configurations. But if these and the short warranty aren’t turn-offs, the 3202XMi makes a good alternative to the winners.