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Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra series hands-on


Ultrabooks aren't necessarily just for those that want tiny ultraportables -- Acer also thinks the mainstream consumer is going to be keen on the extended battery life and slimmer profile afforded by Intel's latest mobile platform. The Aspire Timeline Ultra series is an extension of the beloved Timeline... line, in the 14- and 15-inch sizes that attract the vast majority of buyers. We went hands-on with the two larger Ultrabook models which you can check out in the galleries below.

Update: We've since had a second chance to get hands-on with the Timeline Ultra series and have refreshed our gallery with brighter, clearer photos and also subbed in a new lead shot.

Gallery: Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra hands-on | 10 Photos

We'll make the same disclaimer here that we did with the new Aspire S5 Ultrabook: our hands-on time was especially brief, given how many other journalists were charging the demo area following Acer's press conference. That said, we got a basic feel for the laptops, which is to say they feel like the mid-range notebooks they're supposed to be. Particularly with the all-metal S5 lying nearby, the Ultras feel cheap, with scratchy plastic enveloping the keyboard and chassis. Still, if there's one undeniable benefit to plastic, it's that the stuff makes for lightweight devices, which is absolutely what Acer was going for. The 14-inch model is easy to hold in one hand, as is the 15-incher -- something we wouldn't say about every competing model (remember the soon-to-be-discontinued HP Envy 14, anyone?).

Unfortunately, we've seen this keyboard many times before: as with the Timeline AS380T we reviewed last year, the keys are shallow, with some of the major ones cropped down to an unnecessarily small size. Since this isn't a mass production-quality machine, we'll hold off on dissecting the clickpad. One last note before we sign off: while a dim room with green mood lighting isn't the ideal place to assess a display's brightness or viewing angles, we were sufficiently impressed by how narrow the horizontal bezels are.

As you can imagine, we're eager to spend some time with these two outside the havoc that is CES (and in a place with more neutral lighting). But you know what else we'd like? A price! Evaluating these laptops will be impossible until we know how much they'll cost -- and who their competitors will be.

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