AcerTravelMate Timeline TM8371

Acer claims its TravelMate Timeline business range offers all day working in a thin and light design. We took its 13.3in model for a spin to see if it lives up to the claims.

The spectacular battery life comes via the 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SU9400 processor. This doesn't provide much in the way of all-out power - witness the Timeline's average benchmark result of 0.76, which makes it 24 per cent slower than a 2.8GHz Pentium D desktop system. But considering it only sips electricity, that's a price worth paying.

The low power means this isn't a machine for creative types hooked on Photoshop, but the relatively low-resolution screen means it's not a natural for that kind of work anyway. Still, for those who find themselves running database applications or large spreadsheets, the TM8371 supplies 4GB of DDR3 RAM, making it a good candidate for large files or multitasking.

Its processor isn't the only impressive specification. The Timeline has a 320GB hard disk, which is more than enough space for a full suite of office applications plus a few films to keep dull commutes interesting.

However, despite the Acer offering less-than stellar performance, it still sounded like it was working incredibly hard. Even when tasked with relatively lowly applications such as Microsoft Word, or watching an HD video in YouTube, a small, gusty fan on the right hand side would kick in. It only ran for a few seconds each time, but in a quiet place such as a home office, it's loud. It's also made more annoying because it only turns on sporadically.

For those who spend a lot of time on the road, the Acer is a great choice. It's very light, feels reasonably tough, and most importantly, it's one of a small handful of machines on the market that we'd be happy trusting to run for a full day away from the mains.

It's not without its niggles, though. These are primarily ergonomic: we persevered with the keyboard as long as we could but never quite got used to the wide-spread keys and lack of travel. The way the fan continually kicked in for a few seconds started out as annoying and ended up a real cause of teeth-grinding.

However, you certainly can't accuse it of being poor value, nor of falling down in key areas for travelling professionals. If you can excuse the odd annoyance, the TM8371 is a fine choice.

Verdict

With frankly amazing battery life, lasting as long as 10 hours under light use, and some excellent specifications make this great for those on the road. We didn’t like keyboard that much but overall this is an excellent value package.

CPU: 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SU9400

Memory: 4GB DDR3 RAM

Storage: 320GB hard disk

Network: Gigabit Ethernet; 802.11a/b/g/draft-n; Bluetooth

Ports: 3 USB; D-SUB; SD/MS/MMC/xD card reader; 2 x 3.5mm audio

Screen: 13.3in, 1,366 x 768

Dimensions: 322 x 228 x 23mm (WDH)

Weight: 1.6

Warranty: 1yr RTB

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