Acer TravelMate 3012WTMi review
Very small and very quick, this Centrino Duo notebook is a good choice if you want dual-core power but don't want to be weighed down when on the move.
Review Date: 17 Feb 2006
Reviewed By: Dave Stevenson
Price when reviewed: (£1,174 inc VAT)
If any evidence was needed of the Core Duo's flexibility, the 3012WTMi delivers: in stark contrast to the Acer TravelMate 8204WLMi, a 3kg machine that had enough grunt in both everyday applications and 3D games to equal desktop PCs, this TravelMate is all about working on the move.
The Acer is exceptionally light and thin, and has a footprint almost exactly the size of an A4 sheet of paper. There are smaller notebooks around, but we're hard pushed to think of a bag it won't fit in, and at 1.5kg it's not going to weigh you down much either.
Speed isn't a crucial consideration in an ultraportable, but the extra performance of the Core Duo T2300 is definitely welcome. Our benchmarks returned a score of 0.94, which makes the 3012WTMi just 6 per cent slower overall than a desktop PC with a Pentium D 840 and 1GB of RAM. The 3012WTMi matches our reference PC in terms of RAM, but the Core Duo again showed its superb speed-to-power-consumption ratio. The T2300 at the heart of the Acer is only clocked at 1.67GHz, yet this tiny laptop will finish many tasks quicker than most desktop PCs.
It might be small on the outside, but the TravelMate offers plenty of internal storage. The hard disk is a 100GB Seagate model, giving you more than enough storage for applications and multimedia files and, combined with the speed of the processor, confers a reassuring degree of future-proofing. That doesn't extend to the graphics chipset, though: the standard Intel GMA 950 graphics are at their best handling 2D applications, managing just 10fps in Far Cry at the screen's native 1,280 x 800 resolution.
Most manufacturers cite space issues when we complain about the lack of ports on a system, but the TravelMate offers three USB ports and a full-size FireWire port, as well as an SD/MMC/Memory Stick card reader, plus a Type II PC Card slot, Gigabit Ethernet and 56K modem ports. On top of that, set into the lid is a webcam, able to swivel to face toward or away from the user. Quality and frame rate are perfectly adequate, and the Acer VisageON applet includes software face tracking, which attempts to pan and zoom the image so your face is kept central for videoconferencing. It works well as long as there isn't too much backlighting.
Ergonomics are a hit-and-miss affair for ultraportable notebooks, as striking the right balance between usability, miniaturisation and cost can be tricky. This shows up in the Acer's keyboard. We don't consider ourselves particularly fat-fingered at PC Pro, but we did find ourselves making more typos than normal thanks to the small keys, and keystrokes sometimes didn't register at all.
The screen also walks the line of acceptability. It's readable, but on our review sample the 12.1in TFT wasn't quite bright enough for complete viewing comfort, even in a well-lit office. Viewing angles are restricted, particularly in the vertical direction, with easily discernible variations in contrast from top to bottom. The widescreen 1,280 x 800 resolution makes it a natural choice for those working with word processors and standard spreadsheets, although the practicality of this is limited by the screen and keyboard size. The included external DVD writer isn't a particularly elegant solution to the problem of optical storage on the move either. As the Panasonic Toughbook CF-W4 shows, it's possible to shoehorn an optical drive into a very small notebook rather than having yet another piece of gear to cart around with you. But the Acer's FireWire-attached drive is half the width of the notebook itself and bulkier than most external drives we've seen. It feels sturdy, but it makes the prospect of DVD viewing on the plane much less practical.
- BBC admits £100 million IT project was a "waste"
- ISPs offer network-level porn filters to dodge "regulatory threats"
- Intel: PC designs "not compelling enough"
- Microsoft reinstates the Start button – on a mouse
- Facebook tells EE to stall launch of HTC First
- Google considers $1 billion bid for satnav firm Waze
- Hyperoptic extends 1Gbit/sec broadband beyond London
- PC Pro Enhanced: an update
- Samsung racks up ten million Galaxy S4 shipments
- Lenovo defies PC slump to post 90% profit increase
- Is it worth upgrading a media centre to Windows 8?
- Flickr redesign: is it enough to tempt photographers back?
- Hands on with the new Google Maps
- Nokia Lumia 925 review: first look
- Why I won't subscribe to Creative Cloud
- GoPro camera strapped to a remote-control helicopter: the ultimate boy's toy
- Acer Iconia A1 review: first look
- Acer Aspire P3 review: first look
- Acer Aspire R7 review: first look
- How we produce the PC Pro podcast
- 38 best iPad apps
- 35 best web apps
- Software subscriptions return us to a life of servitude
- Dropbox: everything you need to know
- Best smartphones for 2013
- The best broadband speed tests
- iPhone apps for business travel
- How to get a job as a mobile games developer
- 25 best Windows 8 apps
- Introducing Arduino - a simple Raspberry Pi alternative
- The ICO's shame-faced u-turn on cookies
- Start8 and ModernMix: making Windows 8 work on a desktop
- How to boost your mobile reception
- How to fix Facebook: Social Fixer
- Taking the stress out of WordPress updates
- Where to download free web fonts
- Turn your tablet into a Sky+ remote control
- How to measure the success of a new IT system
- Three years on: the state of the tablet market
- Windows 8: what works and what doesn't
There are dozens of exciting prizes up for grabs on PC Pro Competitions. All our competitions are free to enter. Try your luck.ENTER NOW