Acer Aspire 4810T notebook review

What you have in the Timeline, Acer claim, is a slim profile, fully-specced notebook, with a long battery life - the sort of features that those looking for an notebook will be after, without necessarily spending a lot of money.

The 4810T model features a 14-inch, 1366 x 768 pixel, 16:9 aspect, LED backlit display. It's a great size for a display because the smaller format is easily portable, but you still get plenty of space to work. The Timeline range comes in 13.3-inch and 15.6-inch models too, however the smaller one doesn't feature an optical drive, so we suspect that the 14-inch will have the most appeal.

It has a glossy finish, which is great for playing back movies or viewing photos, but does suffer from reflections in bright conditions. The hinge design is good, as it allows the screen to open up behind the body of the notebook, so it takes up less space vertically, meaning it is much more convenient for using in aircraft seats or on the train.

The lid is suitably skinny, at only 7mm thick, adding to a svelte body, making it only 30mm at the thickest part (to accommodate the battery) and slimming down further to 22mm through the rest of the body. It's an impressive and compact look, leading to a professional looking machine.

The deck of the notebook is simple and free from clutter. Above the keyboard you'll find a strip containing the two speakers, as well as touch controls for activating Wi-Fi, Acer Backup Manager and Acer's Smart Power mode. This bar is flanked by the power button and the eject button for the DVD drive.

The keyboard itself is rather interesting as it is a flat keyboard, which looks a little like the separate keys you'll find on high-end notebooks. The keys are of a good size and comfortable to type on too, and despite our initial concerns, it was free from flex with a positive action. There is the usual array of Fn shortcuts, giving you some media controls, volume, Bluetooth toggle and so on.

If there is one downside of this keyboard it will be keeping it clean. There is plenty of space for debris to slip down behind the keys, so keep your sandwiches well away.

Beneath the keyboard is the 8cm touchpad, with a single bar across the bottom which gives you the normal left and right clicks. It is comfortable enough to use and plenty responsive too. To the left of the touchpad is a small toggle button to disable the pad if you don't need it. It features Acers multi-gesture control, which will allow you to zoom and so on, but it isn't the greatest and given the small size of the touchpad, is difficult to get to grips with.

One of the new incorporated features of the Timeline design is a more efficient way of dissipating heat through the notebook. Acer refers to this design feature as "laminar wall jets" and the idea is that heat is dispersed so the user doesn't find it getting too hot on their legs. It seems to work and we watched a DVD with the Timeline on knees and found it to be comfortable throughout - something that older Aspire models can't all claim.

In terms of hard connections, the 4810T comes out rather well. Featuring 3x USB2.0, VGA, HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet, as well as 3.5mm jacks for your headphones and an external mic. You'll also get Wi-Fi b/g/n and Bluetooth. There is the normal SD, MMC, xD, MS card reader too.

The HDMI is welcomed, meaning the Timeline is an easy way to get your HD content (or just DVD content) onto your TV, or as this connection becomes more common on monitors, hooking up to a bigger display at your desk. Our review model also had a whopping 500GB hard drive, ideal for storing all that content.

Lying at the core of the 4810T is an Intel Core 2 Duo U9000 CPU running at 1.40GHz, backed by 4GB RAM (different configurations are available). The graphics are provided courtesy of an embedded solution, the Mobile Intel 4 Series Express chipset. The results are actually pretty good, with the 4810T handling HD (720p) camcorder files with no problems at all. This isn't a notebook designed for gaming, although older games will work well enough.

The other premise of the Timeline, and feeding into the name, is a long battery life. We managed to get well over 7 hours from the battery. The Smart Power mode does make a healthy difference too, perfect for when you are sitting in long lectures or conferences. Smart Power takes action to reduce power consumption, such as shutting down the DVD drive, dimming the screen and switching Vista into its basic mode to reduce the graphics load.

Start playing a DVD, however, and the time drops significantly, but not fatally. We still managed to watch movie whilst carrying out a number of other tasks and still get around 5 hours from the battery - which is great overall performance.

Charging is nice too, as you get an orange bar on the front, which turns blue and then turns off, as the power adapter stops charging once the battery is full.

Verdict

There isn't much to dislike about the 4810T. The design is somewhat conservative, but in that there is nothing to offend. Light in weight at 1.9kg, this is the sort of notebook that you can easily port around with you.

The graphics might not give you the same performance that some dedicated GPU-sporting notebooks will, but then you have that really impressive battery life. A battery span that will let you fly across the Atlantic and use your notebook all the way, or spend the day out of your conference hotel room, and know your PC is going to have you covered.

Prices for a basic Timeline models start at £549. We don't have the exact pricing for the options including in our review model, but we'd expect closer to £800. We'll update the pricing when we have full details.