We've heard nothing but good things about Acer's Aspire 1810T recently, but is this tiny CULV laptop really as good as it appears? First off, it's affordable, with a price that's in-keeping with the current crop of high-end netbooks.
Design-wise, it's suspiciously similar to Acer's own Aspire Ferrari netbook - with the same 11.6-inch WXGA screen, familiar lines and a compact footprint that's more in-keeping with a netbook than a laptop.
The screen is a highlight, proving crisp and vivid, with more than enough space for daily use. As with so many other modern machines, it is a glossy panel, so you may want to steer clear if you get frustrated by reflections or fingerprints.
The keyboard is another area where this machine resembles its Ferrari-branded sibling, with the flat keys standing proud of the keyboard itself. The keys are surprisingly big for a machine of this size, and it's easy to type for long periods of time without discomfort. They're also well-attached and responsive, and give this machine a quality feel.
Although the overall design is similar to the Aspire Ferrari, the finish of the plastic differs noticeably. Here, you'll find faux-brushed aluminium palm rests - it looks great at a first glance, but feels a little cheap once you look a little harder. The glossy black lid is in-keeping with lots of other recent laptops - it looks decent enough when it's clean, but it's impossible to keep that way, quickly collecting grime, prints and scratches. It's also available in red and blue, which should be a little harder to keep clean.
The specification is another area where the Aspire 1810T betters the current crop of netbooks, and you'll find a CULV (Consumer Ultra Low Voltage) processor at its heart. Performance is a league apart from Atom-based machines, and also marginally better than the Ferrari's AMD Athlon X2 Dual-Core L130 processor.
Although we wouldn't necessarily pick it over the Ferrari for power - it's definitely faster but we didn't find a great deal of difference in daily use - the battery life is leagues ahead. We managed to get over 7 hours from a single charge, offering a full working day's productivity if you turn down brightness settings even further.
Unlike many ultra-portable laptops, there's no optical drive here. You will find a memory card reader and three USB ports though, with two on the right-hand side of the chassis and the third on the left. There's an Ethernet port on the right rear corner, and both VGA and HDMI ports on the left.
After living with the Acer Aspire 1810T for the past couple of weeks, it's apparent that this budget laptop does indeed live up to the hype. Battery life is outstanding, and the large keyboard also provides usability on par with much bigger machines. Mixing design details and components from more expensive ultra-portable laptops, yet costing the same as many netbooks, it's a genuinely impressive choice for frequent travellers.