Acer TravelMate 8204WLMi Core Duo notebook

The dual-core notebook other vendors have to beat?

It's also worth remembering that we're going to see more and more multi-threaded applications hitting the street over the next year or so, which means that a dual-core machine will actually get faster as the software learns to take advantage of the new hardware. But right now, Yonah means that more than ever, you really can do pretty much anything on a notebook that you can on a desktop PC.

Acer TravelMate 8204WLMi

Of course, there's more to a notebook than the internal components, and Acer has made sure that the TravelMate 8204WLMi is a worthy vessel for Intel's new baby. Acer knows how to build good-looking notebooks and this one is no exception. The lid is finished in carbon fibre with a silver Acer logo at the centre - the effect is stunning. Mounted in the top of the lid is a 1.3-megapixel rotating digital camera - ideal for video conferencing if you want the other person to see you and your surroundings.

Opening up the lid reveals one of Acer's trademark curved keyboards. You either love these keyboards or hate them - I'm in the former camp and find them very comfortable to type on. Since this is a very early sample, the keyboard is US rather than UK spec, but of course production models will be correctly equipped. Despite the US layout, the keyboard has a good solid feel to it. There isn't a hint of flex in the keyboard no matter how hard you're hammering it, while the key travel and spring back is spot on.

Below the keyboard is a large touchpad with a widescreen aspect ratio to match the display. The touchpad has a very smooth action allowing for accurate pointer manipulation.

The screen doesn't let the side down either - there are many notebooks with 15.4in widescreen displays, but a lot of them run a disappointingly low 1280 x 768 resolution. Not this one. The screen in the TravelMate 8204WLMi sports a 1680 x 1050 resolution, which gives you masses of desktop real estate to work with. The impressive screen resolution marries itself well to the dual-core processor, allowing you to have multiple applications active concurrently for serious multi-tasking.

Sponsored: 10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity