Acer's Timeline range of notebooks spans the gamut from 13.3-inch ULV ultraportable to 15.6-inch mainstream laptop, promising prolonged battery life with an affordable price tag. The company sent over their Aspire Timeline 3810T, a 13.3-inch 1.4GHz ULV machine with heady runtime estimates and an $899 sticker, for SlashGear to try out; check out the full review after the cut.
The display is an LED-backlit 13.3-inch panel, running at 1366 x 768. It's a crisp, readable screen with less glare than you'd imagine from when the Timeline is switched off, but - like with other ultraportables we've used lately - we found ourselves wishing it offered a slightly higher resolution. When you can get the same number of pixels in an 11.6-inch netbook for a few hundred dollars less, you find yourself asking for more.
Still, what the Timeline 3810T did deliver on is runtime. Acer claim you can manage a full eight hours on the standard battery, and much to our surprise with moderate use and sensible backlight settings it lasted for roughly six hours. Shut off the WiFi, turn the brightness right down and limit yourself to the most basic of Office tasks and you'll probably see that eight hours.
Performance won't light any fires, with the 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SU9400 and 2GB of DDR3 memory primed for prolonging runtime rather than heavy crunching, but the Timeline is still capable of multitasking with a few browser windows and an Office document or two open. It scores fairly well on GeekBench 64-bit with total score of 2281, comparable to Lenovo T400s (2864).This isn't the machine for graphically intensive tasks, however, as the integrated Intel GMA 4500MHD falls short of anything approaching reasonable gaming performance. Still, the 500GB hard-drive is impressively capacious, and goes some way to making up for the absence of any sort of optical drive.
Build quality overall is reasonably high, with the aluminum lid and creak-free plastics impressing. It's a demure machine stylistically, compared to rivals such as MSI's X-Slim X340, but the Timeline delivers a sturdier typing experience with no flex from the flat, well-spaced chiclet keys. The trackpad supports basic multitouch gestures such as rotation and pinch-zooming, but we were disappointed by the single, centrally-hinged mouse button bar that proved unduly stiff.
Connectivity is for the most case good, with both VGA and HDMI outputs, three USB 2.0 ports, an SD card reader, audio in/out and gigabit ethernet, but there's no standard Bluetooth to go along with the WiFi a/b/g/n. That's an option, as is integrated WWAN or WiMAX connectivity.
The Acer Aspire Timeline 3810T is a decent, portable notebook, that offers business or home users a fair balance of size and capabilities. We liked the standard gigabit ethernet and the HDMI port - though we might be tempted to swap it for standard Bluetooth if we had the choice - and appreciated the battery life, even if you do have to dial down your expectations in order to achieve it.
As with all of these ULV ultraportables, the Timeline 3810T hovers in-between CULV netbooks and full-sized notebooks, and it's arguable whether you're getting significant functionality over the cheaper models. Still, for its highly usable keyboard and sturdy build, the Timeline 3810T does at least feel as though you're getting something solid for your money.