Acer Aspire Timeline M3 Ultra review
The affordable Ultrabook
It seems safe to say that Ultrabooks haven’t given the PC market the shot in the arm that Intel was hoping for. The high prices haven’t helped, of course, and there also seems to be some evidence that many people are turned off by the relatively small 13in screens that dominate the Ultrabook category.
Big deal: Acer's Aspire Timeline Ultra M3 Ultrabook
So along comes Acer with its new M3 Ultrabook, which addresses both problems head on. It may be saddled with the most idiotic model-number ever committed to paper, but the M3-blahblahblah is the cheapest Ultrabook we’ve seen so far, with a price tag of just £500. It’s also the first to include a 15.6in screen – and it’s even got one of those old-fashioned DVD drive thingies too.
You could argue that the screen size, DVD drive and ensuing 2.2Kg weight are somewhat stretching the definition of the term ‘Ultrabook’. However, it does measure less than 21mm thick as specified by Intel – 20.7mm to be precise – wakes from sleep in about five seconds, and provides very good battery life. And those three features pretty much satisfy Intel’s rather vague definition of an Ultrabook.
Slim enough to make the grade as an Ultrabook
Despite the low price, the M3 is quite well built. The casing is plastic, but still reasonably solid, and the matt-black finish is rather smart – albeit prone to finger smudge-a-go-go. The screen could be a little brighter, and some people may feel that the 1366 x 768 resolution is too low for a display of this size. However, the image is sharp and clear, with vivid colours that worked very well when watching Highlander 5 on the BBC iPlayer – it's kinda silly, but one of the better Highlander sequels.
The size of the screen means there’s plenty of room for a large, comfortable keyboard and trackpad, and the speakers manage to produce a fuller sound than most laptops too. I wasn’t wild about the decision to put the USB, Ethernet and other ports round the back, though, and it also took me a couple of minutes simply to turn the darn thing on as the Power button is cunningly concealed on the lower front edge of the machine.
Next page: Wot, no Bluetooth?
1366 x 768 ...
You hit the nail on the head! Far too small ..
Acer seem to have entirely missed the point
It's not a small, lightweight, SSD powered machine with 5+ hours of battery life when doing anything meaningful so it's not really an ultrabook. Best case you could list it as a thin and light conventional 15" laptop.
How about the Novatech nFinity range, e.g.
Under £500 inc. VAT if you despecify Windows - with SSD, Bluetooth and the works...
I thought everyone knew Novatech were worth a look if you can't find what you want at the right price!
Typical Acer garbage.
Solid-state storage? No, it's a flash accelerated spinning drive, fine for the pri--- oh, wait, no, it's just a bog standard, bottom-of-the-line harddrive...?
Plus, it weighs a ton (for an ultrabook), and they used every cubic millimeter permitted by the standard as well, so it's not portable like an ultrabook is supposed to be. Part of this problem is of course due to Acer's boneheaded decision to include an optical drive.
On top of that, it's got shit resolution (this needs to be judged more harshly in Register reviews - no 15 inch 1366x768 laptop should be getting 80%), and the power button is located in a non-standard place (it sounds like it's on the outside, which means it'll get turned on while carrying it around - so much for battery life!).
The physical ethernet port is nice, sure, as is the third USB port, but that's no big accomplishment considering the size of this system, and they put the ports on the wrong side of the computer. And didn't even include a mic or line-in port, and the video output is HDMI rather than VGA, so you still need an adapter!
This computer looks like Acer looked at one of their "mid-range" (by Acer standards) laptops, and realized that if they made the case a little thinner, it would qualify as an Ultrabook, without them having to provide a system capable of delivering the performance or portability that Ultrabooks are all about.
Hold the front page! Acer make something that is not *totally* pants.
........Apologies if I appear less than enthused but, as others have pointed out, this is neither one thing nor the other and is not particularly good at anything. Yes, the price is not too bad but what is one supposed to say? "It's ok, it's not a complete dog and they are not completely taking the piss as far as the price is concerned". This kind of thing just illustrates why Acer's CEO was getting way to big for his boots when he began to howl the other day about MS' decision to market some of its own hardware. Indeed it sums up why MS are making the "Surface" in the first place.