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Acer TimelineX 4820TG Mini-Review

This is a small review of my Acer TimelineX 4820TG that I purchased a few days ago. Now, I won’t be talking numbers (like CPU/GPU performance etc) because these things are almost same as per the component used and have been covered in various other reviews online. What I’ll concentrate more upon are the things that other reviewers don’t look at, or look at purely from numbers perspective which don’t make sense to an average buyer. Please let me know if I miss something out that you want to know about this laptop.

For clarification, I bought the topmost model of the TimelineX 14 incher series which has a core i5 430m with ATi 5650 1 GB graphics. (Other models have i3 only and one has 512mb graphics, while lowest end has only intel HD graphics). I bought it from Croma Retail for a price of 45,999 INR. So, here it goes:

Frame/Overall Build Quality: Overall, TimelineX 4820TG “feels” sturdy. It has a brushed metal lid and a plastic bottom. There is some flex all around, especially in the lid area but that is to be expected from a laptop which is so thin. For reference, I compared it to a lot of other laptops with almost similar dimensions, and the build quality and flex was generally on par with all of them, except the Asus Bamboo series and macbooks. I wouldn’t worry too much about it though. It is perfectly luggable through the campus or office, just that I wouldn’t keep anything heavy on top of it (I used to keep a lot of my books and other stuff on top of my previous laptop).

Keyboard: 4820TG’skeyboard is chiclet-type but it feels a bit flimsy as compared to the competition. It seems that the keys do not have support all arund but just at the center, so you can see the key edges tilting while typing. Also, the keys are not beveled but flat, which could put off few users though it was not a hindrance for me. Also, the keys feel just a tad bit mushy. But it takes just a few hours to get used to it. Only thing I’m not sure is whether I’ll still feel the same about this keyboard one year from now.

Touchpad: The touchpad is awesome. It is fairly big compared to what others give you these days. It is also multi-touch and supports the usual gestures like two fingure scroll, pinch-zoom, rotate, etc and I guess you could extend these pretty easily by using appropriate software. The click buttons are rocker-type, i.e., a single bar serves as the two buttons depending on where you press. It’s ok but you have to be slightly more careful than having two separate buttons here as you have to press near the ends for the clicks to register properly. Though this also becomes a second nature after a few hours of use.

Weight: The notebook is very light. I haven’t measured it on a weighing scale but for the oomph it packs, it is pretty slim and light. I can lift it easily by two fingers without feeling any strain and can work for hours with it sitting on my lap.

Heat / Temperature / Noise: The heat and noise emission is very low. While browsing and downloading and doing other general stuff, I couldn hardly feel it heating up while on my laps. The left top area on the underside (just near the vents) becomes a bit warm after prolonged use but still it is not unconfortable. The keyboard and wrist/palm rest areas remain cool throughout. I could not hear the fans at all while doing normal work in the dead of night and this turns into a slight whirr when the laptop is tasked with heavier crunching.

Battery Life: This is the USP of this model and one of the biggest reason why I went for it. This laptop has switchable graphics, i.e., you can chose to use the onboard intel GMA HD graphics for regular use or multimedia playback (plays HD media beautifully) or switch to the ATi 5650 for heavier tasks like gaming, etc. While using the intel graphics, I could easily browse for around 5 hours. I also downloaded around 500mb of stuff during this time and another 300 mb worth of windows updates were downloaded and installed. Moreover, this was all on normal settings and that too when I had a very poor wi-fi signal. I hadn’t mucked around with any power saving options at all and I believe that doing that, along with dimming the brightness and better wi-fi signal etc would easily pump it over the 6 hour mark. This is not as much as the 8 hours that Acer promises but still, it is excellent and much better than most of the competition. While turning on ATi 5650 for the same type of tasks reduced the battery life to around 3 hours.

Performance: I didn’t run any benchmarks on the laptop and neither did I do any gaming, but I didn’t feel any slow downs while doing any normal tasks and 720p/1080p media playback even while using the intel graphics.

This is it for now. I’ll keep updating it as more things come to my mind. I hope I have touched upon the significant aspects that I found missing when I was searching around for reviews of this laptop. Let me know if you have any queries for it and I’ll surely update it. Also, I haven’t gone into too much details as I’m primarily a linux user and haven’t explored or tasked this laptop too much till now. I’ll also be installing Ubuntu Maverick Meerkat on this asap and blog about this laptop’s linux compatibility, issues, fixes and workarounds as well.

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