If you're lusting after the Apple MacBook Air but can't quite justify the £1,150 asking price in these cash-strapped times, Acer might have the answer with the slim and light Timeline Aspire 4810T. Priced at a much more affordable £750 or so, it also boasts amazing battery life.
The 4810T may not be as amazingly thin as the Air, but it's still incredibly slim and light compared to most laptops, measuring a mere 29mm at its thickest point and weighing in at just under 2kg. Unfortunately, the 4810T's appearance is let down by the uninspiring grey finish used on the lid and keyboard surround.
Nevertheless, the keyboard is very comfortable to type on, despite using relatively flat keys, like those found on some of the latest Sony Vaio models. We also like the trackpad, which supports multitouch gestures, much like the Air's. This may sound gimmicky, but it's very useful. For example, to scroll up and down through documents, you track a circular motion on the pad, while swiping across it will move you between pages or photos in a slideshow. You can also zoom out of a picture or page by pulling two fingers apart, and zoom in again by pushing them together.
Despite its small size, the 4810T's connectivity hasn't been overly compromised. It still manages to cram in both VGA and HDMI ports for outputting video to external displays, as well as three USB ports and a seven-in-one memory card reader. On the wireless front, there's draft-n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR. There's no eSATA port and no ExpressCard slot, however. That's disappointing as it means expansion is limited to USB peripherals only.
Unlike the Air, the 4810T has a built-in DVD drive, and we especially like the way Acer has placed the eject button at the top of the keyboard, rather than placing a fiddly button on the tray, as most other manufacturers do.
The 14-inch display is also impressive. It has a true 16:9 aspect ratio, so, when you watch widescreen movies, they fill the screen without any black bars at the top and bottom. The screen's resolution of 1,366x768 pixels means text looks crisp, while the display is also very bright and has good colour fidelity. The display's glossy coating does mean, though, that it's quite reflective under certain lighting conditions.
The 4810T uses an ultra-low-voltage Intel Core 2 Duo SU9400 CPU that's clocked at a relatively tardy 1.4GHz. It's hardly a surprise, then, that it won't blow your socks off in terms of raw speed, scoring a sedate 3,542 in the PCMark05 benchmark test. The 4810T didn't shine in 3DMark06 either, with a score of 731 meaning you're not going to be able to get any kind of sensible frame rate out of it for the latest 3D shooters.
But what this machine lacks in speed it make up for in stamina. In Battery Eater's very intensive Classic test, it managed to keep going to for an amazing 3 hours and 21 minutes. This is one of the best performances we've seen from a laptop under £1,000 and makes the 4810T really stand out from similarly priced competitors.
The Acer Timeline Aspire 4810T may not be the fastest performer or the best-looking laptop we've seen, but its compact dimensions, relatively low price tag and amazing battery life make it an outstanding buy for those seeking a laptop that's well suited to life on the move.
Edited by Charles Kloet