Acer TravelMate 4202WLMi review

£583
Price when reviewed

Notebooks such as the HP dv5157eu are tailored to a relatively specific role – namely, entertainment – but Acer’s TravelMate 4202WLMi is geared for general use. It tries to appeal to the middle of the market by offering sensible components for a fair price.

Acer TravelMate 4202WLMi review

The only unusual feature is the curved keyboard, which is said to be more comfortable as your wrists don’t naturally sit perpendicular to the keyboard. We soon got used to this design, but note that, because the keyboard is set so close to the screen, you might have to remove your watch when typing, as the strap can be uncomfortable if you lean on your wrists. The large touchpad and mouse buttons are easy to use and comfortable.

Half the notebooks this month have a 15.4in widescreen display like the TravelMate’s, and the 1,280 x 800 format makes it possible to fit two documents side by side. While it’s an acceptable screen overall, it does lack brightness when compared with the rest.

Inside, there’s a 1.66GHz Core Duo T2300. Only a fraction separates the performance of the three notebooks with this CPU, so the Acer’s 0.83 2D score is competitive, and it’s more than enough for most users. 512MB of DDR2 memory is installed and there’s a free socket to add more. 60GB of hard disk space isn’t hugely generous at this price, though.

DVD-RAM is useful for removable storage, and is a feature only two other notebooks boast. The 4202WLMi’s optical drive handles it in addition to dual-layer DVDs. However, there’s a lack of other extras, such as a media card reader, fingerprint reader, FireWire or an ExpressCard slot. That said, it’s good to see 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet.

Weighing 2.7kg and lasting just over three-and-a-half hours on battery with light use, the 4202WLMi has moderate mobility. But build quality is average and the one-year collect-and-return warranty is the minimum we’d hope for.

Windows XP Professional may be a draw for some, but the minimal software bundle is disappointing. Compared to the Lenovo, which has a bigger hard disk, a fingerprint reader, a card reader and costs £62 less, the Acer 4202WLMi simply doesn’t deliver enough.

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