Acer TravelMate TimelineX 8481T review

Price when reviewed

While it’s rare that business laptops ignite our gadget lust, Acer is keen to buck that trend with the TravelMate 8481T. This millimetres-thick slice of black magic manages to squeeze a 14in display into a smaller chassis than usual, and crams in a Core i5 processor and a whole bunch of business-friendly features. In fact, were it not for the sizable battery propping up its rear, you could almost mistake it for an Ultrabook.

It tapers from only 16mm thick at its front to 20mm at the rear, and the build quality is rather impressive. The slim, flexible lid lets the side down a touch – it didn’t take the hardest of prods on the lid to cause ripples on the display – but the base is absolutely rock solid, resisting our most heavy-handed attempts to flex it to and fro.

Acer TravelMate TimelineX 8481T - front

It weighs 1.78kg, hardly light by ultraportable or Ultrabook standards, but we can forgive the culprit – that heavy 6000mAh battery. The first benefit is one of straightforward practicality: the battery props up the rear, leaning the keyboard forwards into a more comfortable typing position. The second is longevity. With the Acer clocking up 11hrs 27mins in our light-use battery test, it should survive the most epic of meetings.

This stamina doesn’t come at the expense of performance, either. With the same low-voltage Core i5 processor found in many Ultrabooks, the Acer shifts into fifth gear when the occasion demands it. An overall benchmark score of 0.57 showcases the TravelMate 8481T’s ability to plough through intensive applications.

The rest of the Acer’s business credentials are pretty convincing. For security it has a fingerprint reader and TPM 1.2 chip. The single USB 3 port is accompanied by two USB 2 ports, a combined eSATA/USB 2 port, and both D-SUB and HDMI outputs. On the networking front, you get Gigabit Ethernet and single-band 802.11n Wi-Fi. The only thing obviously lacking is an optical drive.

Acer TravelMate TimelineX 8481T - keyboard

We mentioned that the Acer has a 14in screen in a smaller chassis than usual, and that’s thanks to an extremely thin bezel. That’s impressive to behold, but neither the 1,366 x 768 resolution nor the image quality stand out. And while the matte finish all but banishes distracting reflections, the LED-backlit panel is a little dimmer than we’d like: we measured a 217cd/m[sup]2[/sup] brightness and a contrast ratio of only 166:1, making for an uninspired and washed out picture.

The TravelMate’s keyboard is just as mediocre. The wide channels between keys are perfect for dust and debris, and although there’s nothing wrong with the spacious layout – we loved the extra-wide right-Shift key – the slight bounce in the backing and overly springy keys make for a mushy, indistinct feel. If you can get used to it, at least the layout is okay; we didn’t find ourselves making typos or missing keys.

So after an excellent start with the overall design, the dim display and average ergonomics can’t help but knock the Acer’s appeal somewhat. It’s a long way from perfect, but with its long battery life and light weight, along with a reasonable price, it shouldn’t be totally written off by businesses on a medium budget.


Warranty1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions329 x 240 x 22mm (WDH)
Travelling weight2.2kg

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Core i5-2467M
Motherboard chipsetIntel HM57
RAM capacity3.00GB
Memory typeDDR3
SODIMM sockets free0
SODIMM sockets total2

Screen and video

Screen size14.0in
Resolution screen horizontal1,366
Resolution screen vertical768
Resolution1366 x 768
Graphics chipsetIntel HD Graphics 3000
Graphics card RAMN/A
VGA (D-SUB) outputs1
HDMI outputs1
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs0


Hard disk usable capacity298GB
Spindle speed7,200RPM
Internal disk interfaceSATA/300
Optical disc technologyN/A
Optical drivenone
Battery capacity6,000mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT£0


Wired adapter speed1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a supportno
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
ExpressCard34 slots0
ExpressCard54 slots0
PC Card slots0
USB ports (downstream)2
FireWire ports0
eSATA ports1
PS/2 mouse portno
9-pin serial ports0
Parallel ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports0
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
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating1.3mp
Fingerprint readeryes
Smartcard readerno
Carry caseno

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use11hr 27min
3D performance (crysis) low settingsN/A
3D performance settingN/A
Overall Real World Benchmark score0.57
Responsiveness score0.73
Media score0.57
Multitasking score0.42

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows 7 Professional 64-bit
OS familyWindows 7
Recovery methodRecovery partition
Software suppliedN/A

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