How did the TravelMate 8204WLMi perform? Running SYSmark 2002, the fastest notebook I'd ever seen was a Rock Xtreme! that utilised a desktop Pentium 4 Extreme Edition processor. Unsurprisingly the battery life was pretty much non-existent, so much so that MobileMark wouldn't even run, but it did turn in a staggering overall SYSmark score of 351. It's therefore all the more amazing that the TravelMate 8204WLMi managed an overall SYSmark score of 352, making it the fastest notebook I've ever seen for Windows application work.
Running MobileMark 2005 produced a battery life of 221 minutes, which isn't amazing, but at over three and a half hours it marks an improvement over the old TravelMate 8104WLMi. The MobileMark performance rating was near identical to the old model at 259, up from 256.
Although the ATI X1600 chipset isn't high-end, it's still a very capable mobile graphics solution. This is borne out by the 3DMark05 score of 4385 at 1024 x 768. This gives a fair indication that you'll be able to play games on the TravelMate 8204WLMi, but it also gives you an indication of just how great a notebook using a dual core Yonah chip will be if coupled with a high-end graphics chipset like the Nvidia 7800 GTX or the mobile ATI X1800 when it arrives.
The TravelMate 8204WLMi can't be described as an ultra-portable notebook by any means, but it's not a huge beast either. To be honest the chassis is pretty much the same as the 8104WLMi before it and the Ferrari 4000 - at just under 3kg you'll know you've got it with you, but it's not going to give you backache.
Although Acer has a reputation for creating very good notebooks at amazing prices, with a machine based on this kind of brand new technology you're going to have to expect to dig deep. That said, the price of £1,761 is far from exorbitant, especially considering the components you're getting. In fact, the TravelMate 8204WLMi looks like a bit of a bargain when you consider the cutting edge CPU, the graphics chipset with 256MB of memory and the 2GB of system RAM. If you've been holding out for a dual-core notebook, you could do a lot worse than to throw your hard earned cash at this little beauty from Acer.
The TravelMate 8104WLMi was a superb notebook that showed off the Intel Sonoma platform to great effect. But the new TravelMate 8204WLMi takes notebook technology to the next level with Intel's new Napa platform. Although it may not be priced as aggressively as other Acer notebooks, you're getting a whole bundle of cutting-edge technology wrapped up in a great looking chassis. Expect to see masses of new notebooks based on the Napa platform over the coming months, but Acer's competitors will have to work hard to come up with a better model than this one.