With rivals sporting Blu-ray drives, dedicated graphics and other novelties, the Acer Aspire TimelineX 4830T seems rather ordinary. Spend some time actually using this Min laptop, however, and it’s clearly anything hut.
It’s very good-looking. The blue lid is infused with a hint of turquoise, and crisp lines are complimented by a smattering of silver and black on the inside. For a budget laptop, it’s gorgeous; by any other standards, it’s still smart.
It isn’t quite as light as the other I4in laptop in this group, HP’s Pavilion dm4, but at only 2.03kg we wouldn’t baulk at carrying it around regularly. We only wish it was sturdier. Pressure on the lid quickly shows through onto the LCD panel, and there’s the slightest hint of bounce in the wristrest. We’d invest in a padded laptop bag to keep it in good nick.
The Acer’s build quality might leave room for improvement, but there are no such qualms about its stamina. With a captive battery within, we weren’t sure what to expect, but we were stunned: with more than 10hrs 6mins in our light-use battery test, the Acer keeps on going long after the other laptops in this month’s group.
This stamina is allied with fine performance. Like many of its rivals, it has a Core i3-2310M processor thrumming away at its core. With a result of 0.58 in our Real World Benchmarks, the Acer is more than nippy enough.
There’s no dedicated graphics chipset here, though, so serious gaming is out of the question. Indeed, while the integrated Intel graphics managed a relatively smooth 31 fps in our Low quality Crysis test, pushing to the Medium test slowed the action to a jerky 13fps; it’s for light gaming only.
During everyday use, the Acer is a genuine pleasure. Despite the flex in the wristrest, there are no such problems with the keyboard, which feels great to type on. The keys have a crisp, responsive feel, and our only mild complaint is the left Shift key: Acer has placed it hard against the backslash key, which led to a fair few typos before our fingers adjusted.
The display is perhaps the Acer’s weakest hand. The 168:1 contrast ratio leads to poor detail in darker scenes, and the average Delta E of 12.8 indicates that colour reproduction is far from neutral. It isn’t as bad as those figures make it sound, however. There’s plenty of brightness – we measured the Acer’s display at a maximum of 232cd/m2 – and it’s perfectly usable for everyday tasks.
Acer has saved a few pennies by opting for only 3GB of memory, and the 320GB hard disk is a shade on the small side. There’s no Blu-ray drive, but Acer found room in the budget for a DVD writer, a USB 3 port and Gigabit Ethernet. Wireless networking stretches to single-band 802.1 In, accompanied by Bluetooth 3.
So other laptops here might outdo it when it comes to the bells and whistles, but the Aspire TimelineX 4830T remains a powerful, go-anywhere laptop that can last almost a whole day away from the mains. When you consider that performance comes for only £479 inc VAT, it isn’t hard to see why it’s this month’s winner.