Acer Aspire TimelineX 1830T Review

Ewdison Then - Oct 12, 2010, 10:30am CDT
Acer Aspire TimelineX 1830T Review

There was a time when an ultraportable notebook would invariably cost well in excess of $1,000 and offer performance suited to little more than emailing. Now Acer’s Aspire TimelineX AS1830T-68U118 drops onto the scene, a sub-$900 11.6-inch ultraportable packing an Intel Core i7 processor and a claimed battery life of up to eight hours. Too good to be true? Check out the full SlashGear review after the cut.

Acer’s TimelineX series – itself a development of the Timeline range – is reasonably mature now, and the design language has evolved into a slick, handsome line-up of variously sized notebooks. The TimelineX AS1830T-68U118 is the smallest on offer, at 11.6-inches, and is a roughly 1-inch thick slice of black brushed aluminum. It’s lightweight, too, at 3.1-pounds, and feels sturdy and well-built.

Open it up, and there’s a full-sized keyboard that’s particularly comfortable in use, together with a trackpad that supports multitouch gestures. It’s worth noting that the Acer’s trackpad is particularly accurate and responsive. The screen, meanwhile, runs at 720p-friendly 1366 x 768 resolution, and we can’t really fault it either; it’s sharp, the LED backlighting is bright, and the viewing angles are great. Meanwhile color accuracy is also strong.

Where once a machine like this would’ve used a mere CULV processor, the TimelineX AS1830T-68U118 squeezes in one of Intel’s latest ultra-low voltage chips, specifically the Core i7-680UM dual-core running at 1.46GHz. It’s paired with 4GB of DDR3 memory and a 500GB 5,400rpm hard-drive, together with Intel HD graphics (with 128MB of dedicated system memory).

[sgbenchmark id=120 show=system]

Connectivity includes WiFi b/g/n, gigabit ethernet and Bluetooth 3.0 as standard, while there’s also an HDMI port, VGA port, three USB 2.0 ports, a multi-format memory card reader and audio in/out (the latter optionally outputting S/PDIF digital audio).

We benchmarked the Aspire TimelineX AS1830T-68U118 with Geekbench, a synthetic test of processor and memory performance. The ultraportable scored 3,805, with particularly strong CPU scores courtesy of the Core i7 chip. That’s less than we’ve seen from other notebooks of late, predominantly because of the compromises in performance that have been made to reduce power consumption. Still, it’s significantly ahead of Apple’s MacBook Air (itself long overdue an update) but around half the price.

[sgbenchmark id=120 show=score]

Acer claim users should see up to eight hours of runtime from the standard six-cell, 5,800mAh battery. In practice, we almost managed to reach that figure. Browsing over WiFi, the AS1830T-68U118 lasted for 7 hours and 25 minutes, which is impressive. HD playback took more of a toll; the TimelineX could get through 3 hours and 50 minutes of a 720p HD .mkv video file before expiring. More general use should see runtimes somewhere in-between those figures.

Interestingly, despite the workload, the Acer still remained relatively quiet. Unlike many ultraportables, which have tiny, shrieking fans, the TimelineX’s active cooling is more tolerable. It doesn’t underperform, either; at no point did the AS1830T-68U118 become uncomfortably hot for lap use.

Our main complaint about the Acer comes down to its graphics; while the Intel HD is far more capable than previous integrated GPUs, we’d still prefer to see a dedicated GPU for extra performance. Something like NVIDIA’s intelligently-switching Optimus graphics would be ideal. Other than that, USB 3.0 seems an obvious omission, but the main pain-point is the sheer quantity of bloatware Acer preloads. Not only are there various Microsoft, Norton, McAfee, Google and Windows Live trials installed, but seven individual Acer apps covering power management, updates and security. They slow down the system, and give a poor first impression of what’s otherwise a speedy machine.

Still, a little work in the Uninstall Programs menu and much of the bloatware is gone, and you’re left with one of the best value, most appealing ultraportables around today. Priced at $899.99 it’s hard to argue with the Acer Aspire TimelineX AS1830T-68U118’s specifications, nor its battery life or build quality. If you’re in the market for an ultraportable but are unimpressed with the larger netbooks, this new TimelineX could very well fit the bill.


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8 Responses to Acer Aspire TimelineX 1830T Review

  1. Ive got an i3 model of this laptop…I’ve never read such a good review of the thing, however.

    Maybe they cut some corners on the i3 model? Mine was priced @ $600, and while it’s not perfect, given the size, good performance and great battery life I cant complain.

    Id say on mine the build quality is ok, but not great (the EEE 1000ha i had felt more solid) and this has an ALPS touchpad, which isnt anywhere near as good as the synaptics on the EEE pc I had.

    Other than those comments (which are minor issues at best) I love the 1830T. Good performance (even for a low-speed i3) and great battery life (6 hours is easy)

  2. I have the previous Timeline model (1810T with an SU7300 C2D) and echo xSauronx’s comment. Build quality is ok but not great and I preferred the touchpad on my 1000HA by a longshot as well. I’m also saddled with Acer’s awful bilingual Canadian keyboard, which I’ve gotten used to, but I still find it disappointing that Acer refuses to sell a model in English Canada with the American keyboard. Otherwise, the review sums up my experience with the previous model as well. Performance for day-to-day tasks is good, and I’ve even done some audio recording with the laptop using Ardour and it did the job. The Intel integrated GPU is easily the worst part of the whole package, though. It’s absolute garbage for any kind of gaming, and I’m not talking Crysis here. And it’s not so great for 1080p video, though it handles 720p fairly well. That I can get an Ion GPU in a sub-$400 netbook but nothing comparable comes in this package is a letdown.

    That’s more of a complaint with the market, though, as even comparable machines with proper discrete GPUs are still more expensive than what I paid for this, so of all the compromises to be made, I can do without 3D gaming to save a couple hundred bucks. It’s still a good machine for its price range and, in my opinion, a better workhorse than a netbook. But at the price for this i7 model, I would rather have an i5 with an Nvidia GPU, and I wish Acer offered such a machine. Odds are, for what most people would use this for, they won’t notice the jump from the i5 to the i7, but they’d really notice the bump in GPU performance.

  3. This computer will not run Windows 7 SP1. The Intel HD Graphics requires an updated driver before SP1 will install. (See MS KB2498452.) While Intel has released generic drivers, Acer will not allow them to be installed (neither the zip nor exe nor manual installation will complete). Acer insists that only their OEM graphics driver can be installed, which is an obsolete version of the Intel driver — one that is incompatible with SP1. I’m still in warranty, and went through several levels of Acer tech support to no avail. They have no solution, and no intention of providing one. All they do is offer to charge me money to “walk me through” pointless repetitive exercises. Their position is that SP1 is a new operating system and they have no obligation to support it. Then why block the solutions that others provide? Goodbye Acer.

    • upgradeing your graphics driver is easy. first download the latest intel hd graphics driver for win7x64 from intel website. then go to control panel -> programs and features -> and uninstall the stock intel graphics accelerator driver. your screen will go low-res and you will be asked to reboot after uninstalling. go ahead and reboot and after the reboot just run the downloaded intel’s driver package. you will need one more reboot after this but after that everything will be fine. i have a i3 1830t and it works for me. i can now install sp1 and my gaming graphics wei actually went up from the default numbers (from 3.X to 4.6)

  4. i have a 1830 with the i3. would i be able to switch out motherboards with this one with the i7, if anyone could let me know how to find this information, i would greatly appreciate it

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