It’s a decent specification that matches many budget PCs although it has the unfortunate effect of raising the price from £600 for the ‘basic’ 4820T to £900 for the 4820TG. When it comes to ports and connectors the left hand side of the chassis has Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI, one USB 2.0 port, VGA and jacks for a headset.
The forward port positioning can be inhibiting at times
On the front there is a card reader and there are three USB 2.0 ports on the right hand side along with the DVD writer. In the event that you get stuck in dial-up dark ages Acer includes a USB modem in the package. That’s a reasonable selection of ports, however the layout could do with some improvement as the ports are arranged towards the front edge of the chassis.
There’s no problem if you connect a mouse or USB flash drive but when I connected an Ethernet cable I found it was distracting when I was using the keyboard. The HDMI port is next door to the Ethernet port but realistically you use that connection when you’re watching a movie but if utilised to connect to an external display, it too could get annoying. On the right hand side the closely spaced nature of the three USB ports is sure to cause issues if you plug in a TV tuner with its inflexible coaxial cable along with a printer or, indeed, that USB modem.
Physically, the Timeline X is a sleek laptop measuring 342 x 245 x 25.4mm and weighing in at 2.2kg and it has pleasant styling that looks good. I especially like the look of the keyboard with its individual keys. That said, the build quality feels a bit plasticky and the chassis has a certain amount of flex when you type hard. In a similar vein, the plastic lid looks as though it might be finished in brushed aluminium but is not and it is a terrible magnet for fingerprints.
Watching movies on the Timeline X is an enjoyable experience however I was left unimpressed by the latest version of Dolby Home Theatre Virtual Surround Sound. The sound is OK but you wouldn’t want to watch a movie using the speakers if you had the option of headphones instead. The viewing angle of the screen is rather tight and it is too reflective and shiny for my personal taste.
It looks metal but the plastic casing inevitably delivers that fashionable fingerprinted look
While the performance of the Timeline X 4820TG is impressive and delivers enough grunt to play Far Cry 2 with Ultra High image quality my main interest was checking out the battery life to see how close it came to that headline figure of 12 hours. Using the standard El Reg test of video playback with the screen at full brightness the battery of the 4820TG lasted for three hours and six minutes.
Next page: Benchmark Tests
You can put the live CD in before you shut down
It's not like you have to stand by the PC waiting for post and then open, put in the cd and then shut it again.
I normally just burn a distro (or more recently make a bootable USB stick), leave the disk in the drive and hit reboot.
Can't pop in a LiveCD if the DVD drive has no external eject button...
(I say use a paper clip to trigger the drive tray release and stuff it in that way, but who wants to carry a paper clip around???)
Correction. CPU not Quad Core
The i5-430 is not a Quad Core as stated in the review. It is a Dual Core but it does have hyperthreading which makes it show 4 processing units to the OS and gives it better threading performance than a dual core.
No Eject Button on DVD Drive?
So when the HDD is borked, how do you open the tray to boot the system from an OS install disk?
Its a shame...
...that you cannot test both the headline model (the 4820T) and the nicer spec'd (4820TG) high end version. IF 12 hours battery were achievable it would be interesting to see the graphs (and performance droop) as it is we only see graphs for what you have and the 'false' marketing claims leave a taint on this model, which is a shame as it looks quite good.