Acer Timeline X AS5830TG Review

What We Think

Though its styling may divide a little, the Acer Timeline X is a good machine for the average user, performing daily tasks with ease and even facilitating some gaming for a far from princely sum.

Introduction

Slim notebooks, with enough power for everyday tasks, that last most of the day and cost less than £800 are the norm in the laptop world – strange to think this wasn’t always the case.

Is the Acer Timeline X AS 5830TG just another one of these sub-premium laptops, with enough power and enough compromise to keep the average user placid? Well judging from the blue aluminium cover and long look of the Acer it might be a little different? Though  Powered by an Intel i5 chip and weighing in at 2.4kg, the 15. 6inch machine is pretty standard.

Design

Just as with strange moustaches, where some people consider them quirky and fantastic and others just a bit absurd and unattractive, the Acer manages to split opinion on its looks. Some will love its clean lines and aluminium blue paint job, whereas others will see it as a try hard exercise in industrial design. Open up the keyboard and the divide in opinion will continue. The contrast of silver and raised brushed wrist rest is either stylish, or garish depending on your opinion.

Consensus will return when you lift the computer as it weighs a solid 2. 4kg, which is pretty average for a laptop of this kind. Build quality is of the typical variety also and the feeling of strength the aluminium lid creates is contrasted by the plastic underside – obviously added to cut costs.

The keyboard is of the individual style and the contrast of black, blue and silver may seem a little busy. Though the Acer is a nice machine to type with and though a little flex exists, the keyboard is very responsive. It also includes a numeric pad, which is notable on a 15 incher, though some of the keys are shrunken to accommodate 1,2,3 beside ABC.

The touchpad isn’t just as spacious and feels a little cramped. It does support multi touch gestures, though the small area used for this technology means, you’re always aware jumpiness is a possibility. The mouse buttons are separate, though do take a little getting used to as they’re a little on the diminutive side.

The Dolby Home Theatre software and associated speakers can rustle up a decent level of sound, and we were impressed by the notebook’s abilities in this area. As we were with the HD web camera, which produced crisp pictures and little ghosting on the 15.6-inch screen.

Screen

A size of 15.6 inches allows a good compromise for those who wish to combine some portability and also some media use, unfortunately the Acers isn’t outstanding. We found the 1366x768p display to have an unrivalled amount of glossiness – not a desirible thing in any way. In fact, we spent more time moving ourselves, or the screen to resolve this than we did watching it.

When we did see the screen between this uneven viewing, we found it to offer average brightness levels, good contrast and vibrant colours, though watching comfortably was the exception rather than the rule. Which is irritating as the i5 processor should be capable of video playback easily.

Performance

For its price of around the £700 mark the Acer Timeline X packs a decent amount of punch. The i5 2410M processor has a clock speed of 2.3GHz and 6GB of RAM. Unlike, most other notebooks of this price, it also includes a NVIDIA GeForce GT520M IGB graphics card. Such technology provides well for the Acer, and it scored 6,475 in the PCMarkVantage test and   5,330 in the 3D Mark06 test. This allowed it to battle with notebooks priced £100 extra, or more such as the HP Pavilion DV6, which had similar scores. These scores suggest the laptop is perfect for streaming, everyday tasks and even a little gaming.

Big laptops usually have long loading times, though we found the Acer to be quite prompt, and it managed to boot up in 43 seconds. The hard drive on the Acer is also notable, and you get a nice 640GB for your money.

Connectivity is provided by four USBs and the laptop has three USB 2.0s and one USB 3.0. Acer has also thrown in HDMI, VGA and Ethernet ports, as well as a 5 in 1 card reader, DVD burner and a button on the side for checking the battery. We liked the sleep and charge USB function, though we did find having too many USBs together meant there just wasn’t enough room for all of them to be used at once.

The maintenance of power is important on a PC like this, and the Acer performs well and the Battery Eater test saw it conk out after 2hrs and 5 minutes, 30 minutes more than the HP DV6. We did get over seven hours with light use, however – almost enough for a day’s work.

Our Verdict

The Acer Timeline X really plays on the old adage that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Saying that, there can be few doubts that it is a good machine for the money. Unlike many similarly priced machines you get a graphics card, as well as the usual processing and RAM options.

It walks the tightrope between everyday tasks and multimedia nicely, though there are a few creaks and groans aesthetically and the screen has a horrible shine. Not to moan too much though, this is a better than standard machine, thanks to its appealing innards relative to its price.

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