Acer TravelMate 4604WLMi review

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The TravelMate 4604WLMi is one of only two widescreen laptops this month. Its subtle green hue is a pleasant change from the norm, while inside the chassis are the most powerful components on test.

Acer TravelMate 4604WLMi review

The boost in speed might not be noticeable to the casual observer, but performance in our Office tests was over 25 per cent faster than the Lenovo. There was a less pronounced difference in our other tests, but it’s still worth noting the TravelMate’s table-topping overall score of 0.83.

This is due to a 2GHz Pentium M 760 and 512MB of PC2-4200 memory, and there’s 3D power too. Although none of these machines will run the latest 3D games, the 64MB ATi Radeon X700 at least offers the option of 3D when others can’t.

Acer makes a bigger noise about its Empowering Technology. Press the Empowering key and you gain access to a system-recovery suite, simplified security- and settings- management apps, plus a presentation-setup utility. It’s all about improving ease of use, and it makes it easier for workers to maintain their machines away from the safety net of the IT department.

And you needn’t worry much about damage on your travels, as the chassis is well designed and built. The lid flexes a little but will protect the screen with ease. The TFT is evenly lit, although not the pick of the bunch; it isn’t very bright, and the poor vertical viewing angles mean colours look washed out or too dark most of the time.

Battery life is more appealing. It lasted three-and-a-quarter hours under light use, and two hours when being pushed hard. Acer claims the ‘five-degree’ curve of the keyboard leads to more comfortable working, although in practice we found it makes little difference to typing posture. Nevertheless, we still rate this keyboard highly.

With an 80GB hard disk and a fast double-layer DVD writer, which will also burn to DVD-RAM discs for greater flexibility, the Acer offers a solid storage subsystem. Communications come in the form of Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g wireless, Bluetooth and infrared. Plus, there’s a media card reader, a PC Card slot, three USB 2 ports and S-Video output.

The one-year collect-and-return warranty is a little disappointing, even with international cover. And at over 3kg, this isn’t the most portable of laptops, with its 364mm width making it bulky. Despite this, we like the TravelMate, and its combination of power, style and management options make it a good alternative to the award winners.

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