Acer Aspire 4810T review

15 May 2009

Nondescript looks and plodding performance are elevated by absolutely stunning battery life

Price when reviewed: 
750(£750 inc VAT)
5

As part of Acer's new Timeline range, the 4810T makes a good initial impression. Slim and clad in sombre grey plastic, it's a surprisingly good-looking machine for the money. But while it looks good while closed, it's a little disappointing to open it up and find the interior is standard Acer fare. The bezel around the screen is dark, matte grey, and the base is an inoffensive gunmetal grey that doesn't provoke the response the system does when it's closed.

The 14in, 16:9 screen has a native resolution of 1,366 x 768, which is fine for office work and web browsing. It's also compatible with 720p HD sources, although there's no Blu-ray drive. The screen itself is reasonable; you won't notice its foibles while looking at photos or watching films, but DisplayMate revealed a limited contrast range that will stop particularly bright or dark areas of an image being clear. It's also irritatingly reflective, so use in a brightly lit office will soon grow tiresome.

The keyboard at first resembles the Scrabble-tile arrangement of recent Sony and Apple laptops. The keys are laid out flat against the base of the system, and we had no problem getting up to speed when touch-typing. The wide channel between each key is a concern, however - with nearly 3mm between each it's possible that those prone to dropping crumbs will spend a lot of time cleaning their system. The keys are also a bit wide for our liking, and have a shiny, smooth finish which can be tiring to type on for long periods.

The trackpad has had a little attention paid to it, and it supports multi-touch gestures. You can, for instance, scroll down by tracing a circle starting from the right-hand edge, or zoom in or out by pinching. But pinching in Vista is clunky and there's nothing like the smoothness that you'll find from the similar feature in Apple's latest MacBook range. We do, however, appreciate the trackpad on/off button next to the pad, which comes in handy if you find the mouse pointer jumping around while you're typing.

Elsewhere you get three USB ports, plus HDMI and D-SUB outputs. The 3.5mm headphone port is S/PDIF-capable, although those with high-spec external devices should note the lack of FireWire. There's no ExpressCard slot either, although there is a 5-in-1 memory card reader squeezed into the tapered front of the machine. And, despite the slimness of the chassis - just 29mm at its highest point - the 4810T manages to include a DVD drive, the eject button for which is at the far right hand side of the base above the keyboard.

But if the 4810T looks a little drab, or we're unconvinced by the keyboard, we're willing to forgive it for one reason. In our light use battery test, it ran for a staggering 8hrs 52mins - the equivalent of a full working day with a short commute on top. Even our intensive test, which pushes a system as hard as possible, ran for nearly three and a quarter hours before the battery was exhausted. This kind of battery life is ordinarily the preserve of ultraportables, and is extremely impressive on a laptop which is comfortable to use all day. It even beats Acer's claimed eight-hour mark by nearly an hour.

Naturally, this comes at the expense of performance, with the Acer returning an overall score in our benchmarks of 0.75. It's a little behind the times, but nonetheless, you'll have no problem running heavyweight creative applications. The reason for the slowdown is the low-voltage processor: the Intel SU9400 runs at just 1.4GHz, but on the upside merely sips power with its maximum TDP of only 10W. It also requires minimal cooling, which means the 4810T is comfortable to use on your legs and quiet when it's being pushed. Performance is aided by 3GB of RAM, and storage is provided by a 320GB hard disk.

Details

Price ex VAT £652
Price inc VAT £750
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 5
Performance 3

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 338 x 240 x 29mm (WDH)
Weight 1.950kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core 2 Duo SU9400
RAM capacity 3.00GB
Memory type DDR2

Screen and video

Screen size 14.0in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset Intel GMA 4500
Graphics card RAM 256MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 320GB
Hard disk usable capacity 298GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no

Other Features

Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 3
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader yes
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader yes
Pointing device type Touchpad
Speaker location Above keyboard
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 532
Battery life, heavy use 192
Overall application benchmark score 0.75
Office application benchmark score 0.80
2D graphics application benchmark score 0.86
Encoding application benchmark score 0.66
Multitasking application benchmark score 0.69

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows Vista Home Premium
OS family Windows Vista