Acer 'Aspires' to be ultra thin

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.


Anand Parthasarathy

Bangalore June 12 2009