Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820T review

10 Jun 2010

Delivers a comprehensive repertoire of stamina, speed and svelte good looks, but the ergonomics disappoint

Price when reviewed 
845
4

It's almost impossible to please everyone all of the time, but Acer's Aspire TimelineX 4820T wants to do just that. By fusing the light-footed panache and class-leading stamina of the previous Aspire Timeline range with the power of Intel's Core i5, Acer has sought to create a portable powerhouse for sensible money.

Take a good long, hard look at the Aspire TimelineX 4820T and you'd be liable to mistake it for a modestly equipped CULV laptop. It's certainly impressively dainty. At just 2.07kg and measuring a mere 25mm thick, the TimelineX is highly portable for a 14in laptop, and it looks good with it. Brushed aluminium sweeps all around, the stylish black lid softening into a silver and glossy black two-tone effect on the inside.

Neither the Acer's weight nor its size is liable to grab any headlines, but beneath its mild-mannered exterior there lies stunning potential. Where its predecessors all made do with Intel's low-voltage processors, and paid the performance price, the Aspire TimelineX 4820T does nothing of the sort.

Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820T rear view

A full-fat Intel Core i5-430M processor barrels along at 2.26GHz, Turbo Boost punching it up to 2.53GHz when the occasion demands it, and Acer has obviously been practising its sleight of hand, as it's managed to slip in dedicated ATI graphics too.

It certainly makes for stunning performance. Our application benchmarks were dispatched with an overall score of 1.56, but that isn't the end of its talents. Thanks to the ATI Radeon HD 5650 graphics chipset, this laptop is also a capable gaming machine.

We had to push our Crysis benchmark all the way up to 1,600 x 1,200 resolution and High quality settings before the frame rate dipped to an unplayable level. For such a lightweight laptop, it's immensely impressive.

What's astounding, then, is that Acer has managed to combine breakneck speed with deep reserves of stamina. Switch over to the Intel HD graphics embedded in the Core i5-430M processor - a case of clicking the right mouse button and selecting the menu option - and the Acer will idle for more than nine hours before the battery gives out.

Swap back to the more powerful ATI chipset and push the Acer to its limits, and you'll still get 1hr 42mins of use before the TimelineX comes limping back to the mains socket.

Details

Price ex VAT £719
Price inc VAT £845
Overall rating 4
Features & Design 3
Value for Money 4
Performance 6

Warranty

Warranty 1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 342 x 245 x 25mm (WDH)
Weight 2.070kg
Travelling weight 2.7kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i5-430M
Motherboard chipset Intel HM55 Express
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 14.1in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset ATI Radeon HD5650
Graphics card RAM 1.00GB
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/300
Hard disk Seagate ST9320325AS
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Optical drive HL-DT-ST DVDRAM GU10N
Battery capacity 6,000mAh
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
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 4
FireWire ports 0
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 1
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader yes
MMC (multimedia card) reader yes
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader yes
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset Realtek HD Audio
Speaker location Above keyboard
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 9hr 5min
Battery life, heavy use 1hr 42min
Overall application benchmark score 1.56
Office application benchmark score 1.46
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.57
Encoding application benchmark score 1.38
Multitasking application benchmark score 1.86
3D performance (crysis) low settings 89fps
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery partition, burn own recovery discs
Software supplied N/A