|At a Glance|
|Product||Acer Aspire Timeline 1810T (AS1810T-8638)|
|Summary||Nicely put together netbook with 11.6" screen, spacious keyboard and 6+ hour battery life|
|Pros||• Very nice keyboard
• Longest battery life I've seen
• Peppy performance
|Cons||• Touchpad a bit too small
• Fan runs a lot; can get noisy when plugged in
My netbook search this year was completed in record time, with only two products making the cut. I owe that to my experiences with the previous crop of netbooks and spending a year with my last selection, a Dell Mini 12. This year, I knew what I was looking for and didn't spend any time mucking with products that didn't have it. I've already reported on my disappointing trial of HP's Mini 311. So this time I'll review the keeper: Acer's Aspire Timeline 1810T.
I first stumbled across the 1810T in a magazine ad, pulled up short by the eye-catching 8+ hrs. Battery Life banner prominently displayed in the ad. After checking a few reviews, I put my order in at Amazon at the full $599 list price and waited until they were back in stock. I could have gone for the $50 cheaper 1810TZ. But I wanted the 4 GB of RAM that came with the 1810T and the faster CPU and larger disk didn't hurt either.
Once again, I'm late to the review game for this product. So I'll summarize the basics and focus mainly on the things that matter to me. The 1810T's key specs are:
- 1.3 GHz Intel Core2 Duo SU7300 Processor
- 4 GB DDR2 667 MHz RAM (SODIMM)
- 320 GB SATA drive
- Windows 7 Home Premium (64 bit)
- 11.6, 1366 x 768 Acer CineCrystal LED-backlit TFT LCD 16:9 format display
- Mobile Intel GS45 Express Chipset w/ Intel GMA 4500MHD Graphics Media Accelerator
- 10 / 100 / 1000 Ethernet
- A/B/G/N wireless
- HDMI and VGA video outs
- Three USB 2.0 ports
- Built-in webcam
- 62.16 W 5600 mAh 6-cell Li-ion battery pack
- Audio in and out 1/8" mini jacks
- SD / MMC / Memory Stick / xD card reader
This configuration has everything I need and the benefit of not having to do my own memory upgrade. Drive size didn't matter, since I've yet to run out of drive space on any of my machines. Other pluses (for me) are the Intel WiFi Link 5100 AGN for Wi-Fi and separate Bluetooth module.
Even though it came with an Intel N card, I swapped it out for an Intel 5300, which is my standard wireless test client. The swap went without a hitch, I didn't even have to install new drivers. The system recognized the new card without a hiccup and it just worked. (I did hit Intel's site and download new drivers for the card, however.)
Like the Mini 311, the Acer has brick-style power supply instead of the small and light "wall-wart" style on my current Dell Mini 12 . Although smaller and lighter than the typical power brick, it still is more of a hassle to use and heavier to carry than a wall-wart. Fortunately, both power supplies have 19 V, 1.58 A outputs and even use the same connector. So the Dell's supply will be going into my travel bag, with the Acer holding down the fort at home.
This is my first Acer system and I have to say I'm impressed with the build quality. Like most other netbooks, its case is plastic. So it might not hold up as well as more expensive laptops with more metal in them. But for my light use, it will be just fine and I'll just live with the fingerprint magnet glossy top and screen.
Figure 1 calls out the system's main indicators and some of its features, including a webcam and microphone and plenty of indicators. The cluster of Power, Battery, Bluetooth and WLAN lights (callout 7) can be seen when the lid is closed, which is helpful to check on charge status.
Figure 1: 1810T features
The keyboard (Figure 2) has flat, textured keytops that I don't really prefer, but can live with. Laptop Mag's review says the keyboard is 92% of full size and slightly larger than the Mini 311's. I can't confirm that, but I think Acer did a good job with the keyboard. Backspace, Enter, left and right shift keys are generously sized and even the function key row hasn't been squished down too much.
Figure 2: 1810T Keyboard
I like that the navigation key cluster includes dedicated Pg Up and Dn keys, which double as Home and End when the Fn key is pressed. With a shorter screen, I find I use the page keys more than I do with a full-sized screen.
As others have noted, the touchpad, which supports some multi-touch features, is wide enough, but a bit short. But the two mouse buttons require just the right activation pressure, for me, at least.
Speaking of function keys, Figure 3 summarizes the "Hotkey" functions at your disposal. Some are standard (volume, brightness, touchpad toggle) and some are unique (Power mgmt. and System property). Don't fret about the omission of Wireless and Bluetooth control. Those have handy dedicated switches sitting below their indicator lights. And, unlike the HP Mini 311, the 1810T includes a Num Lock function.