Acer TimelineX 4820T reviewSee all photos
Look and feel
The 4820T's 0.9 to 1.1-inch thick body is the biggest design coup, though. It's just an incredibly thin and light 14-inch laptop, and the battery doesn't bulge at all like some other ultraportables out there. For comparisons sake, it's thinner and ligher than the smaller-screened 13-inch ASUS U30Jc and ThinkPad Edge 13. Shoving the 4.7-pounder into a larger shoulder bag was no issue – we actually didn't mind dragging it to and from the office. Despite the thin dimensions, the machine still has room for a DVD player and three USB ports on its right edge. We're not sure why Acer had to line up all the USB ports so close to each other -- it makes it hard to simultaneously plug in multiple devices. An extra USB jack, HDMI, Ethernet, VGA, and mic and headphone sockets dwell on the left side, while its 5-in-1 card reader lives on the front lip.
We've said this in the last couple of Acer reviews, but there's no harm in repeating our disclaimer on the build quality. The make isn't superb, though in this case it's what you'd expect for the price. There are parts of the 4820T – notably the flexy keyboard and plastic hinge reinforcements -- that don't have us convinced the machine will age well, but sometimes these are the sorts of laptops that end up lasting longer than you ever thought. Obviously, you take a chance with any machine.
Keyboard, touchpad and screen
The touchpad on the 4820T is quite generous in size. It supports multitouch gestures, though we turned off the pinch-to-zoom function since it would mistakenly zoom in on webpages when that's the last thing we wanted to do. The scroll strip on the right edge of it was responsive, however. The single mouse button didn't give us any issues, though we'd like to take a knife and chop it into two dedicated buttons. The dual speakers above the keyboard are decent for personal listening, and we could hear a YouTube clip over our TV in the background. Yet, they aren't as loud or full as those on the HP Pavilion dm4.
As members of the matte screen lovers guild (seriously, we'd join if this existed), we think the 4820T would've been perfect with a non-glossy version of its 14-inch, 1366 x 768 display, but everyone seems set on these glossy, reflective screens. Like we've been seeing on recent Acer laptops, the screen's bright, but viewing angles were quite bad. Horizontal angles weren't terrible for sharing the screen with another, but tilting the screen back when watching a gripping video of Lindsay Lohan's sentencing caused her face to darken and her tears to be indiscernible.
Performance and battery life
Though the TimelineX is available with a discrete ATI Radeon GPU, our review unit had Intel's integrated HD graphics. The integrated option was fine for watching YouTube HD videos and a local 1080p Green Hornet trailer, but it's not going to appease heavy gamers. For those that need the extra graphics muscle, the $799 4820TG-5637 with Core i3 and ATI Radeon HD 5650 graphics may be the worth the extra cash.
|Acer TimelineX 4820T (Intel Core i3-350M)||4926||1724||5:04|
|Dell Vostro V13 (Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300)||2687||556||2:39|
|Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 13 (Core 2 Duo SU7300)||N/A||905||5:12|
|ASUS U30Jc (Core i3-350M, NVIDIA)||4841||1739/3686||4:10|
|ASUS UL50Vf (Core 2 Duo SU7300)||3724||827/3438||6:10|
Onto the million dollar question: how does Acer's use of a standard voltage CPU affect the battery life of this very portable laptop? Not much, by any measure. The 4820T's 66Wh six-cell battery lasted five hours and four minutes on our video rundown test, which loops the same video at 65 percent brightness. That's actually longer than the ULV-powered Dell Vostro V13 and just around the same time as the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 13. In everyday usage with brightness set at 75 percent we squeezed about five and a half hours out of the system – that should be good enough to last the bus ride from New York to Boston.
Just like the Aspire One 521 and 721, Acer's loaded up the TimelineX with a bit of software. The desktop comes cluttered with Netflix, Acer games, Norton and McAfee antivirus shortcuts.