Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/05/14/review_laptop_acer_timeline_4810t/

Acer Timeline 4810T

A Core 2 Duo laptop with an eight-hour battery life? You bet

By Leo Waldock

Posted in Laptops, 14th May 2009 12:02 GMT

Review Acer says its new series of Timeline laptops offer a battery life up to eight hours. That’s a mighty bold claim so we’re putting the Aspire Timeline 4810T under the microscope to see whether it’s a piece of engineering genius or PR puff.

Acer Timeline 4810T

Acer's Timeline 4810T: titanic battery life?

There are three sizes of chassis in the Timeline series, with two models at each size offering a choice of processors. In each case, the cheaper version has a 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Solo U3500 processor while the more expensive model has the 1.4GHz Core 2 Duo U9400 and an extra cell in the battery.

The 13.3in model weighs 1.6kg and has no optical drive. It's priced at £550 and £700, depending on your choice of CPU.

The larger 14.1in and 15.6in models each have a dual-layer DVD writer. The 14.1in version weighs 2kg and costs either £550 or £750, while the 15.6in big boy weighs 2.4kg and costs £580 or £800.

To put it another way, the single-core processor models cost £550, £550 or £580 so the choice of chassis size makes no difference. The dual-cores cost £700, £750 and £800 so each step in chassis size costs £50, which leads us to the thought that the extra cost results from the increase in the number of cells in the battery.

Acer_Timeline_01

One design, three screen sizes

During our testing we found that we could run continuous loops of PCMark05 for 3h 59m. This is a harsh test as it keeps the laptop working hard and we're confident that you can double the time achieved to reflect real-word battery life. This means that the Timeline 4810T can truly run for a complete working day on a single battery charge, or a flight across the Pacific.

We’ve mentioned that the weight is 2kg, but with most laptops you would have to add something for the power adaptor, 450g in this case. As the Timeline 4810T has the ability to run on battery all day, you don’t necessarily have to take the power brick on your travels so the 2kg figure is quite representative of the load you need to carry.

Battery Life Results

Acer Timeline 4810T - Battery Life

Battery life in Minutes
Longer bars are better

Mind you, the 5600mAh battery took a lengthy three hours and ten minutes to charge fully.

The exterior of the Timeline 4810T doesn’t give any clue how Acer has managed to stretch the battery life so far. The chassis is sleek, with dimensions that measure 336 x 241 x 27mm, and the battery doesn’t even stick out the back the way so many extended power packs do.

The clever stuff is inside the chassis and centres on the latest Intel components. The chipset is Intel's GS45 with a ICH9-M southbridge, and the processor in our sample is the 1.4GHz Core 2 Duo. It sits on an 800MHz frontside bus and contains 3MB of L2 cache. The alternative processor is, as we said, a Core Solo U3500 but thanks to the wonders of Windows Vista Home Premium we can show you that Acer had also tried a 1.2GHz Core 2 Solo U3300 in the laptop at some point.

Acer Timeline 4810T - CPU history

For some reason, Vista remembers the processors that have previously been installed so it appears that there are two processors installed simultaneously in the 4810T. In fact, the U3300 is a phantom device and the U9400 is for real.

The rest of the hardware consists of Intel GMA 4500MHD graphics, Intel's 5100 802.11n wireless card and 3GB of 1066MHz DDR 3 memory in two slots, although our test sample had 4GB installed.

With the Acer running at full pelt we measured the temperature of the chassis as 25°C. The hot air that's expelled from the exhaust vent on the left side of the chassis is only slightly warmer - at 35°C - and the area of the bottom casing that is directly over the CPU also measures 35°C.

Acer Timeline 4810T

No netbook: the 4810T has an optical drive

That’s encouraging for two reasons. For one thing, you’ll have no trouble resting the Acer on your lap for extended periods and, for another, waste heat is a horrible drain on the battery. Acer tells us that it has developed the cooling system in conjunction with Intel that is called Laminar Wall Jet Cooling. The idea is that it carefully directs the cool air as it's drawn in through the inlet duct. Whatever, it seems to work.

Acer Timeline 4810T

Believe it or not, there's a card reader in there somewhere

The other big bits of hardware in the 4810T are the 320GB Hitachi Travelstar 5400rpm Sata hard drive - our sample had 500GB - a TSSTcorp TS-U633A dual-layer DVD writer, Atheros Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth and Intel HD audio.

Working our way round the chassis on the right side there is one USB port, the power plug, the Ethernet port and the optical drive. There’s a card reader on the front, and along the left side you get two more USB ports, 3.5mm headset jacks, and VGA and HDMI graphics outputs.

Acer Timeline 4810T

It's a little too easy to hit the HDMI port with a USB connector

The layout of the laptop isn’t bad but it does have a few annoyances. For instance, we tried to plug a USB mouse into the HDMI port on more than one occasion as the two ports are right next to each other. Then there’s the DVD drive eject button, which mirrors the position of the Power button - we found it was all too easy to press the wrong button when we wanted to turn on the laptop.

PCMark05 Results

Acer Timeline 4810T - PCMark05

Longer bars are better

Acer Timeline 4810T - PCMark05

3DMark06 Results

Acer Timeline 4810T - 3DMark06

Longer bars are better

We were also annoyed by the way that Bluetooth can be turned on and off by toggling Fn-F3 but there's no such control for Wi-Fi. The pair of flick switches on the front of the Aspire One 751 work admirably well for wireless control and the sooner they're transplanted to the Timeline the better.

Acer Timeline 4810T

A perfectly decent laptop

We reserve our final piece of annoyance for the keyboard, which feels good and solid but the Enter key is inboard of the Page Up/Page Down buttons which is a complete no-no in our opinion.

The mouse buttons are formed in a strip instead of two individual buttons which isn’t our favourite layout. The multi-touch touchpad works well enough but is nowhere near as good as Apple’s version. We liked the illuminated button that locks out the touch pad as it comes in handy when you’re typing and don’t want the cursor zipping around the screen.

Acer Timeline 4810T

Just over an inch thick

The 14.1in screen has a resolution of 1366 x 768 and it looks fine, although it is rather shiny and reflective if you have a strong source of light behind you.

Verdict

The new Timeline is a perfectly decent laptop that is saved from mediocrity by a battery life that is, for a notebook, absolutely epic. ®

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