The second dual-core laptop that Acer delivered us for testing is the ultraportable TravelMate 3012WTMi, a svelte 1.5Kg system powered by a 1.66GHz Intel Core Duo processor that includes a rotating Webcam built into the top of the screen.
The TravelMate 3012WTMi is both small and light. Measuring just 297 by 210 by 324mm, it occupies the same amount of desk space as a sheet of A4 paper. Usefully for mobile professionals, the system comes with two battery packs -- one three-cell, one six-cell. The latter protrudes a little from the back of the chassis, raising the weight from 1.5kg to 1.65kg.
Even with the heavier six-cell battery in place, the TravelMate 3012WTMi should not be a burden to carry, but its chassis does not provide room for an optical drive. An external DVD-RW drive is supplied, which connects to the T3012WTMi via FireWire. If you need optical storage on your travels, you'll need to find space in your bag and allow for a little extra weight.
On its larger laptops, Acer uses a slightly curved shape for the keyboard, but there's not enough room for this design on the ultraportable 3012WTMi. Instead, there's a standard QWERTY keyboard with a same-height number row and half-sized row of function keys above this. The keys are fine for touch-typing, if a little spongy.
The touchpad has left and right mouse buttons plus a four-way scroll button. Beneath the screen and to the left, immediately above the keyboard, are four function keys. Three of these are configured to launch the Web browser, email and Acer's Empowering Technology application launcher, while the fourth is user-programmable.
The 12.1-inch screen has a native resolution of 1,280x800 pixels. Its wide format makes it feasible to have working windows open at once, and we found it clear and bright.
There may not be space for an optical drive, but Acer has found room for a good array of ports and slots. The FireWire (IEEE 1394) connector for the optical drive is on the right-hand side along with a USB 2.0 port, a single PC Card slot and a card reader that accepts SD, MMC and Memory Stick media.
The left-hand side houses two further USB 2.0 ports -- these are arranged side by side, which may make it tricky to use both at the same time if your USB peripherals are awkwardly shaped. The Ethernet and modem connectors are on the left side too, along with the VGA-out connector.
At the front, twin speakers flank separate on/off buttons for the built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth modules, an infrared port and microphone and headset connectors. The removable battery attaches at the back, which is also home to a port for Acer's ezDock port replicator (which is not supplied as standard) and the mains power connector.
The Acer TravelMate 3012WTMi is powered by Intel's 1.66GHz Core Duo T2300 processor with 2MB of shared Level 2 cache and a 667MHz frontside bus. The Intel 945GM Express chipset includes Intel's GMA 950 Graphics Media Accelerator, which can dynamically use up to 128MB of system memory. Wireless networking is provided by Intel's PRO/Wireless 3945ABG module, while the gigabit Ethernet connection is delivered by Broadcom NetLink.