The 11.6in Acer Aspire TimelineX 1830T is an ultraportable laptop that's only a tiny bit bigger than a netbook but has more CPU power and memory under the hood. It's useful for people who want a thin, light and small notebook for the road, but it's not perfect. In particular, its keyboard could be better and its palm rest a little deeper.
Aspire TimelineX 1830T: Design and user comfort
The Aspire TimelineX 1830T is thin and light (only 1.37kg), and it looks nice. The battery slots into the spine of the laptop between the screen's hinges, so there is lots of unused space between the keyboard and the screen. It's the only design that could have been implemented to keep the notebook's profile thin; at its thickest point, the Aspire TimelineX 1830T is only 28mm. On the other end, the palm rest is a little too small — it's only 48mm deep — which means that the touchpad is also very small — only 67x36mm.
We're not fans of the Aspire's keyboard, which is a little bouncy and has keys that are too flat and too stiff. We wish the keys were softer, as we made plenty of typos while writing this review. The combination of the hard keys and the small touchpad makes the Aspire TimelineX 1830T a little awkward to use, and it's by no means comfortable to type on for prolonged periods of time — in fact, it can be tiring. That said, there's always a trade-off between user comfort and small size in laptop design. The chances are you will probably get used to this keyboard and touchpad after using them for a few weeks.
Comfort issues aside, the 11.6in Aspire TimelineX 1830T is very mobile and we love the fact that it also comes with a relatively small wall wart adapter, rather than a power brick. It's very easy to transport in a backpack or small laptop case. Around its edges it has three USB 2.0 ports, HDMI, VGA, Gigabit Ethernet, and microphone and headphone ports. You also get a webcam, Bluetooth and 802.11n Wi-Fi. It doesn't have a fingerprint reader, which would come in useful on a laptop such as this, but that's not a major drawback for us.
The 11.6in screen of the Aspire 1830T has a resolution of 1366x768 and a glossy finish. It's prone to reflections and a little hard to use in very well lit areas unless the brightness is maximised. But overall it's decent for reading documents and viewing Web pages. A matte screen would be welcomed on this model.
Aspire TimelineX 1830T: Specifications and performance
On the inside, the laptop has an Intel Core i3-380UM CPU, which is an ultra-low-voltage model with a 1.33GHz frequency. The rest of the configuration includes 2GB of DDR3 SDRAM, integrated Intel HD graphics and a 5400rpm, 320GB hard drive. Its CPU performed as expected in our Blender 3D test, with the laptop recording a time of 1min 52sec. This is identical to the time recorded by the Sony VAIO Y Series (VPCYA15FGB). However, the Aspire 1830T was swifter in the iTunes MP3 encoding test: it recorded 1min 56sec compared to 3min 06sec for the Sony.
You won't want to use the Aspire for 3D graphics tasks, as it's just not powerful enough. This was shown in 3DMark06, in which it recorded 1101 marks. Furthermore, while you can use this laptop for converting video files for use on portable media players, it's not recommended as it will take ages. Converting a DVD file to a 1.5GB Xvid file using AutoGordianKnot took 2hr 14min, which is almost identical to the Sony. It's about an hour slower than a regular-voltage Core i3 notebook such as the Toshiba Satellite C650.
In our battery rundown test, in which we disable power management, enable Wi-Fi, maximise screen brightness and loop an Xvid-encoded video, the Aspire lasted 2hr 24min, which is 50 min less than the Sony, but this is an expected result as the Acer uses a smaller battery (4-cell instead of 6-cell) in keep the laptop slightly lighter weight and thinner. Still, if you enable a power management plan and tone down the screen brightness, you should be able to get close to three hours out of it.
Overall, we like the Aspire TimelineX 1830T for its small size and excellent mobility, but due to this it is a little uncomfortable to use. Its keyboard isn't great and its touchpad is small, but in time you will probably get used to them. We think this is the type of notebook you should consider if you've thought about getting a netbook, but also want something that will allow you to more than just browse the Web and create documents.
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