Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820T review

£845
Price when reviewed

There’s precious little compromise when it comes to features. Acer has managed to squeeze in a DVD writer along the right-hand side – a feature regularly sacrificed by rival slimline laptops – and with HDMI, D-SUB, four USB ports, Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n wireless networking and a 4-in-1 card reader, there’s very little left on the wish list.

If you’re already fishing out your credit card in feverish anticipation, a word of warning: the TimelineX isn’t without its faults. The first hint at penny-pinching is its build quality. The base isn’t too bad at all, but the lid doesn’t appear to offer much protection for the TFT panel inside; even light prods cause telltale ripples to shimmer across the display.

That display, meanwhile, is good without proving stunning. Colour reproduction is reasonably punchy and it’s a bright screen too, but viewing angles are narrow and a native resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels stretching across the 14.1in diagonal leaves us feeling a little cold.

Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820T

The keyboard is the real disappointment. We expect more than merely okay at this price, regardless of the performance on offer. It isn’t the layout that’s to blame, since that’s actually rather good, but rather the combination of light, unresponsive feeling keys and a horribly bouncy base.

It’s kept company by an equally unimpressive pair of speakers, which, despite the Dolby Home Theater logo above, lack both volume and clarity. It comes as little consolation to find that the trackpad is the polar opposite of its neighbours, offering accurate cursor control and lovely feeling short-travel buttons.

It would have been one hell of a coup for Acer to make a laptop to rival the Sony Z Series at almost half the price, but despite doing so many things right, it just wasn’t to be.

Those in the market for a powerful portable for sensible money may be able to live with the below average keyboard and mediocre build quality, but the Acer’s foibles prove enough to rule out a whole-hearted recommendation.

Warranty

Warranty1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions342 x 245 x 25mm (WDH)
Weight2.070kg
Travelling weight2.7kg

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Core i5-430M
Motherboard chipsetIntel HM55 Express
RAM capacity4.00GB
Memory typeDDR3
SODIMM sockets free0
SODIMM sockets total2

Screen and video

Screen size14.1in
Resolution screen horizontal1,366
Resolution screen vertical768
Resolution1366 x 768
Graphics chipsetATI Radeon HD5650
Graphics card RAM1.00GB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs1
HDMI outputs1
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs0

Drives

Capacity320GB
Hard disk usable capacity298GB
Spindle speed5,400RPM
Internal disk interfaceSATA/300
Hard diskSeagate ST9320325AS
Optical disc technologyDVD writer
Optical driveHL-DT-ST DVDRAM GU10N
Battery capacity6,000mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT£0

Networking

Wired adapter speed1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a supportyes
802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
802.11 draft-n supportyes
Integrated 3G adapterno
Bluetooth supportyes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switchno
Wireless key-combination switchyes
Modemno
ExpressCard34 slots0
ExpressCard54 slots0
PC Card slots0
USB ports (downstream)4
FireWire ports0
PS/2 mouse portno
9-pin serial ports0
Parallel ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports1
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports0
3.5mm audio jacks2
SD card readeryes
Memory Stick readeryes
MMC (multimedia card) readeryes
Smart Media readerno
Compact Flash readerno
xD-card readeryes
Pointing device typeTouchpad
Audio chipsetRealtek HD Audio
Speaker locationAbove keyboard
Hardware volume control?no
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating1.3mp
TPMno
Fingerprint readerno
Smartcard readerno
Carry caseno

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use9hr 5min
Battery life, heavy use1hr 42min
Overall application benchmark score1.56
Office application benchmark score1.46
2D graphics application benchmark score1.57
Encoding application benchmark score1.38
Multitasking application benchmark score1.86
3D performance (crysis) low settings89fps
3D performance settingLow

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS familyWindows 7
Recovery methodRecovery partition, burn own recovery discs
Software suppliedN/A

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