Within days of Intel's unveiling at the Computex Taipei show of its new ultra low voltage (ULV) Core 'Solo' processor family, Acer is first off the block in India, with a series of laptops fuelled by these chips.
The Aspire Timeline series has three laptops, the 13.3 inch 3810T, the 14 inch 4810T and the 15.6 inch 5810T. The single biggest plus from using these power-efficient processors is extended battery life without increased weight. We saw the 3810T and it weighs about 1.6 kg and is less than an inch thick ( 2.28 cms to be exact). The Coro Solo Su 3500 processor is rather slow we thought at 1.4 GHz... it is even slower than most Netbooks that run on Intel's 1.6 GHz Atom. But that is the price you have to pay if you want a processor that consumes only 5 watts -- We checked at the Intel site and this is in fact the fastest chip in the ULV Core Solo series. But the 1366 by 768 pixel LED backlit display in the cinema-friendly 16:9 aspect ratio is a definite advantage.
The ULV nature of the processor really kicks in when it comes to battery life: Acer says the standard 6 cell battery pack can give over 8 hours of usage. We couldn't check this out -- but it is in any case way beyond your average 2 hour life for laptops of this screen size. The laptop comes with a 160 GB hard drive and 2 GM RAM which the wise will immediatelky upgrade to 4 GB. Why? Because the OS is memory-hungry Windows Vista. Again, we would have expected that just 3 months from the expected availability of the next Windows avatar -- Windows 7 -- Acer might have somehow armed their customers with the wherewithal of a free upgrade. Who wants to spend money on upgrade again within a few months of buying a new laptop?
Loading the machine with 'trial' versions of utilities like MS Office is again something we think, is not customer friendly: If you want to throw in a free office suite -- fine. But don't load time-bound things that are ticking away and drop dead after a few weeks, leaving the owner to either breathe new life at a take-it-or-leave-it price or to cart away the carcass with an uninstall operation. In any case we think Acer is a savvy company that surely knows that customers are slowly moving away from high priced proprietary software, where ever they can.
The 1.0 MP webcam is a useful if standard item, but we liked the generously spaced keyboard and the touchpad which understands basic gestures. While the built in WiFi is standard, the Core Solo has WiMax/ broadband functionality which is why Acer says it can take optional 3G modules.
At a rupee shy of Rs 40,000 ( excluding taxes), the Aspire 3810T demands a premium over similar-spec laptops for its thin and light features. If you have hitherto been challenged by having to lug a full sized laptop and annoyed by the short time you can use it between charges, then you might well hitch on to Acer's Timeline series.
The 14 inch 4810 costs Rs 42,999 and the 5810T costs Rs 44,999, both unlike the 3810T come with DVD writers built in. This takes their weight up slightly.