Acer recently launched some updated laptops with Windows 7. For that matter, just about every laptop manufacturer out there has new laptops sporting Windows 7, but we're going to start our coverage of mobile press releases with Acer since they were kind enough to send us the pertinent details. (Ed: This blog may be a bit long, but we'll try to do them more often going forward so we can keep it short.)

Our intention going forward is to do more blogs on product announcements, letting you know what new items might be worth a look… or perhaps which ones you should skip. These blogs are not reviews, since we don't have hardware, but we'll try to cover the important details and let you know what we think of the various laptops. And if you're a PR representative from a different manufacturer and you have product information, send me an email. We don't have time to cover every laptop/netbook launch, but the more information we have to pass along, the better informed we can keep our readers.

We recently looked at ASUS' latest foray into the mobile world, the "UnLimited" UL80Vt. It uses a Core 2 Duo SU7300 CPU overclocked to 1.73GHz by default, plus giving users the option to switch between discrete and integrated graphics. The design and features of the UL80Vt are very good, but what if you don't want to spend $820, and what if you don't have a need for discrete graphics? If you're interested in some other options, Acer might have what you're after. Let's take a quick look at the latest Acer product launches.

Acer Timeline

The more interesting launches from Acer are going to be the updated Timeline models. Acer has now models ranging from the new 11.6" Timeline up to the larger 15.6" AS5810TZ. All of the models we'll be discussing now include Windows 7, and we see no reason to even consider Windows Vista on a laptop at this point. Windows 7 definitely beats Vista in both performance and battery life. Windows XP battery life is similar to Win7, but that's only if you're willing to live with the old XP UI. Of course, we understand that some people still prefer XP, but we'll focus on the new Win7 models.

Acer Aspire Timeline 1810 (AS1810T) Specifications
Processor Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 (AS1810T-8638/8679)
(1.3GHz, 45nm, 3MB L2 cache, 800MHz FSB, 10W)
Intel Pentium SU4100 (AS1810T-4013/4174)
(1.30GHz, 45nm, 2MB L2 cache, 800MHz FSB, 10W)
Chipset Intel GM45 + ICH9M
Memory 2x2GB DDR2-667 (8638/8679)
1x2GB+1x1GB DDR2-667 (4013/4174)
Graphics Intel GMA 4500MHD
Display 11.6" Glossy 16:9 768p (1366x768)
Hard Drive(s) 320GB 5400RPM HDD
Optical Drive N/A
Networking Gigabit Ethernet
Intel Wifi Link 5100
Bluetooth 2.1+EDR
Audio HD Audio (2 stereo speakers with two audio jacks)
Battery 6-Cell battery
Up to 8.0 hours
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Dimensions 11.2" x 8.0" x 0.9-1.2" (WxDxH)
Weight 3.1 lbs (with 6-cell battery)
Extras Webcam
84-Key keyboard
Flash reader (MMC/MS/MSPro/SD/xD)
Multi-gesture touchpad
Diamond black (4013/4174) or sapphire blue (8638/8679)
Warranty 1-year standard warranty
Pricing Online pricing:
Acer AS1810T-4013 for $550
Acer AS1810T-4174 for $550
Acer AS1810T-8638 for $600
Acer AS1810T-8679 for $600




The Timeline 1810 is the newest edition of the Timeline series, with a netbook-sized 11.6" chassis. Unlike the typical Atom netbook, however, Acer uses a Core 2 Duo SU7300 -- the same CPU as the ASUS UL80Vt. Or at least the more expensive model uses the SU7300, while the slightly cheaper option uses the Pentium SU4100. The two CPUs have the same 1.30GHz clock speed, but the SU7300 has 3MB shared L2 cache compared to 2MB L2. For $50, the upgrade probably won't make that much of a difference, but the 8638/8679 also include 4GB RAM instead of 3GB. The 1810 comes with a 6-cell battery and weighs just over three pounds. Battery life should exceed 8 hours in light operations, while more intense workloads like x264 or DivX video playback will probably be closer to 5 hours.

Like all of the Timeline series, the LCD is LED backlit and has a resolution of 1366x768. That resolution might be a bit low on the larger models, but it works well on an 11.6" LCD. Unfortunately, we don't have details on what LCD is being used -- we asked, but Acer wasn't able to provide that information. The 1810 is available in either black or blue at present, with what appears to be a brushed aluminum palm rest. If you want an alternative to a netbook that doesn't cost an arm and a leg, the Timeline 1810 will fit the bill. Performance of the SU7300 is going to be at least twice as fast as any Intel Atom netbook, and the GMA 4500MHD is likewise a large step up from the aging GMA 950 (or the GMA 500). H.264 video decode works with the 4500MHD as well, so the only drawback relative to ATI and NVIDIA solutions is gaming/graphics performance. What you're getting is essentially over twice the performance of a netbook for about twice the cost.

Acer Aspire Timeline 3810 (AS3810T/AS3810TZ) Specifications
Processor Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 (AS3810T-8737)
(1.3GHz, 45nm, 3MB L2 cache, 800MHz FSB, 10W)
Intel Pentium SU4100 (AS3810TZ-4078/4925)
(1.30GHz, 45nm, 2MB L2 cache, 800MHz FSB, 10W)
Chipset Intel GM45 + ICH9M
Memory 2x2GB DDR3-1066 (4078/8737)
1x2GB+1x1GB DDR3-1066 (4925)
Graphics Intel GMA 4500MHD
Display 13.3" Glossy 16:9 768p (1366x768)
Hard Drive(s) 500GB 5400RPM HDD (4078/8737)
320GB 5400RPM HDD (4925)
Optical Drive N/A
Networking Gigabit Ethernet
Intel Wifi Link 5100
Bluetooth 2.0+EDR
Audio HD Audio (2 stereo speakers with two audio jacks)
Battery 6-Cell battery
8+ hours
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Dimensions 12.67" x 8.97" x 0.92-1.13" (WxDxH)
Weight 3.5 lbs (with 6-cell battery)
Extras Webcam
86-Key keyboard
Flash reader (MMC/MS/MSPro/SD/xD)
Multi-gesture touchpad
Warranty 1-year standard warranty
Pricing Online pricing:
Acer AS3810TZ-4078 for $650
Acer AS3810T-8737 for $750
AS3810TZ-4925 not available online; try
CostCo, Best Buy, Office Depot, Radio Shack

The Timeline 3810 is virtually the same specs as the 1810, but with a 13.3" chassis. Models with the SU7300 and SU4100 are available, but memory is DDR3-1066 instead of DDR2-667. Prices are slightly higher for the base model 4078, or $750 at present for the 8737. Both come with 4GB RAM while the retail chain version (the 4925) comes with 3GB. For the extra $100, there doesn't appear to be a good reason to choose the 8737; the SU7300 shouldn't be more than about 5% faster than the SU4100 (thanks to the added L2 cache).

Acer Aspire Timeline 4810 (AS4810TZ) Specifications
Processor Intel Pentium SU4100 (AS4810TZ-4120/4508)
(1.30GHz, 45nm, 2MB L2 cache, 800MHz FSB, 10W)
Chipset Intel GM45 + ICH9M
Memory 2x2GB DDR3-1066
Graphics Intel GMA 4500MHD
Display 14.0" Glossy 16:9 768p (1366x768)
Hard Drive(s) 500GB 5400RPM HDD (4120)
320GB 5400RPM HDD (4508)
Optical Drive 8x DVDR SuperMulti
Networking Gigabit Ethernet
Intel Wifi Link 5100
Audio HD Audio (2 stereo speakers with two audio jacks)
Battery 6-Cell battery
8+ hours
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (4120/4508)
Other models with Windows Vista or XP available
Dimensions 13.32" x 9.44" x 0.94-1.13" (WxDxH)
Weight 4.2 lbs (with 6-cell battery)
Extras Webcam
86-Key keyboard
Flash reader (MMC/MS/MSPro/SD/xD)
Multi-gesture touchpad
Warranty 2-year standard warranty (4120)
1-year standard warranty (4508)
Pricing Online pricing:
Acer AS4810TZ-4508 for $600
AS4810TZ-4120 not available online; try
CostCo, Best Buy, Office Depot, Radio Shack

The Timeline 4810 is again virtually the same specs as the other models, only you can find older models with Vista (and even XP), the CPU is always the Pentium SU4100, and it uses DDR3-1066 RAM. Other than the slightly larger 14.0" chassis, the big change relative to the 3810 is that Acer includes an optical drive. That makes the 4810T virtually a direct competitor to the ASUS UL80Vt. You basically lose some of the performance and features of the ASUS UL80Vt but save over $200. The 4810 provides a slightly slower (stock CPU), but no overclocking; it doesn't include discrete graphics; it has a slightly smaller battery (6-cell vs. 8-cell); and it also weighs about half a pound less than the UL80Vt. $600 for a moderate sized laptop that will provide over twice the performance of any Atom-based netbook is a reasonable option. Again, we don't know much about the LCD, but it's likely going to be a low contrast option. The retail-only 4120 includes a 500GB hard drive, but we were unable to determine pricing; it's likely going to be about $50 more.

Acer Aspire Timeline 5810 (AS5810TZ) Specifications
Processor Intel Pentium SU4100 (AS5810TZ-4761/4784)
(1.30GHz, 45nm, 2MB L2 cache, 800MHz FSB, 10W)
Chipset Intel GM45 + ICH9M
Memory 2x2GB DDR3-1066
Graphics Intel GMA 4500MHD
Display 15.6" Glossy 16:9 768p (1366x768)
Hard Drive(s) 320GB 5400RPM HDD
Optical Drive 8x DVDR SuperMulti
Networking Gigabit Ethernet
Intel Wifi Link 5100
Audio HD Audio (2 stereo speakers with two audio jacks)
Battery 6-Cell battery
8+ hours
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (4120/4508)
Other models with Windows Vista available
Dimensions 14.88" x 10.19" x 0.97-1.16" (WxDxH)
Weight 5.3 lbs (with 6-cell battery)
Extras Webcam
103-Key keyboard with 10-key
Flash reader (MMC/MS/MSPro/SD/xD)
Multi-gesture touchpad
Esspresso Brown (4761)
Aluminum (4784)
Warranty 1-year standard warranty
Pricing Online pricing:
Acer AS5810TZ-4761 for $650
Acer AS5810TZ-4784 for $650

Finally, the 5810 is the largest version of the Timeline series, although it still targets "8+ hours" of battery life with a 6-cell battery. Remember that battery cell sizes aren't all the same, so it may actually have more battery capacity to keep run times consistent with the other Timeline models. Like the 4810, it includes an optical drive -- no surprise with the 15.6" chassis. The only change worth noting relative to the 4810 (other than size) is that the 5810 includes a full keyboard with 10-key pad. Available in "espresso brown" or aluminum, the 5810 with Windows 7 is priced at $650.

Acer Aspire 5738


The other new product line Acer recently announced uses the basic 15.6" Aspire chassis, but with a few additions. Several models are available, with prices ranging from as little as $480 to as high as $760. The least expensive model 5738Z-4111 uses DDR3-800 RAM and Intel GMA 4500M graphics and targets "up to 3.5 hours" of battery life. The AS5738-6444 and 6969 are the same as the 4111, but they use DDR2-667 and the GMA 4500MHD. There's also a 500GB HDD on the 6969 for about $20 extra. We're not sure why these models are supposed to get "up to 4.5 hours" of battery life, given that DDR2 uses a higher voltage than DDR3. Here are the detailed specs.

Acer Aspire 5738/5738PG/5738DG/5738Z Specifications
Processor Intel Core 2 Duo T6600 (5738/PG/DG)
(2.2GHz, 45nm, 2MB L2 cache, 800MHz FSB, 35W)
Intel Pentium Dual-Core T4300 (5738Z)
(1MB L2 cache, 45nm, 2.10GHz, 800MHz FSB, 35W)
Chipset Intel PM45 + ICH9M (5738PG/DG)
Intel GM45 + ICH9M (5738/Z)
Memory 2x2GB DDR2-667; Up to 2x4GB supported
2x2GB DDR3-800 for 5738Z
Graphics ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4570 (PG/DG)
Intel GMA 4500MHD (5738)
Intel GMA 4500M (5738Z)
Display 15.6" CCFL Glossy 16:9 768p (1366x768)
Hard Drive(s) 320GB 5400RPM HDD (5738/DG/PG/Z)
500GB 5400RPM HDD (AS5738-6969)
Optical Drive 8x DVDR SuperMulti
Networking Gigabit Ethernet
Intel Wifi Link 5100 AGN (5738/DG/PG)
Acer InviLink 802.11n (5738Z)
56K Modem
Audio HD Audio (2 stereo speakers with two audio jacks)
Battery 6-Cell battery
Up to 3.5 hours (5738DG/PG/Z); 4.5 hours (5738)
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium
Dimensions 15.1" x 9.8" x 1.0-1.5" (WxDxH)
Weight 6.2 lbs (with 6-cell battery)
Extras Webcam
103-Key Keyboard with 10-Key
5 multimedia buttons
Warranty 1-year standard warranty
Pricing Online pricing:
Acer AS5738Z-4111 for $480
Acer AS5738-6444 for $630
Acer AS5738-6969 for $648
Acer AS5738DG-6165 for $761
Acer AS5738PG-6306 for $800


The more interesting options for most people are going to be the 5738PG and 5738DG. The PG includes a multi-touch LCD. We asked for details on the manufacturer and LCD specs but did not receive an answer from Acer. Hopefully it's at least not a glossy LCD, given the coating most touch LCDs have that reduces brightness and contrast relative to other LCDs. It's worth noting that the 5738PG is not a tablet, which limits the usefulness of the touch LCD in our book, but others may feel otherwise. It's also the most expensive option, but it includes a discrete HD 4570 GPU.


The specs for the 5738DG are identical to the 5738PG, but it doesn't have a touch-sensitive LCD. Instead, Acer includes a "TriDef 3D screen" with polarized 3D glasses. The 3D mode can be enabled and disabled at the press of a button, and the feature is supposed to work with both 2D and 3D content. How well does it work? Without using one in person, we really have no idea. We asked about the LCD and technology but have not received any answer. We don't know if the basic premise is like older 3D displays that appeared to flicker a lot, or if the DG uses a 120Hz LCD, or if this is something new. We're very hesitant to recommend purchasing any 3D product (outside of a GPU) without testing out the feature in person. In the past, such technology has been prone to cause headaches and discomfort after a few minutes to an hour or more. NVIDIA's 3D Vision is perhaps the best 3D offering we've tested, and even it only delivered lackluster results in most instances. Still, we're intrigued that anyone would even consider making a 3D laptop LCD. Now you can wear your "sporty and stylish 3D polarized glasses" while on the road as well!

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  • mattsm - Wednesday, October 28, 2009 - link

    None of the vendors sites say that these laptops have bluetooth, can anyone confirm? Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Wednesday, October 28, 2009 - link

    According to the article, the Timelines do. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, October 28, 2009 - link

    According to the Acer site (the link in the table heading for each laptop will take you to the appropriate base page), the Timeline 1810 and 3810 include BT 2.1 and 2.0 respectively. The 4810 and 5810, oddly, do not include BT. Reply
  • Spivonious - Wednesday, October 28, 2009 - link

    Any reason why the touchpad isn't centered? My OCD is twitching. Reply
  • Lifted - Wednesday, October 28, 2009 - link

    The touchpad is centered with the keyboard (under the spacebar) just where it should be, not center with the chassis. If it wasn't centered with the keyboard, your palm would be resting on the touchpad while typing, making the cursor jump around the screen.

    I've seen other people get all OCD over this, and I can't figure out why. Do you want the notebook to look symmetrical, or be usable?

    I've actually seen some companies (Dell?) release notebooks which have the touchpad centered with the chassis instead of the keyboard. Looks like a nightmare to use, especially for a lefty as they would have to lift their right hand off the keyboard to get to the touchpad.
    Reply
  • rjp0503 - Wednesday, November 11, 2009 - link

    I've been using this for a few days and like it's many great features. But my one annoyance with it is that in fact the touchpad is NOT centered with the keyboard. Yes it is about a 1/2 inch left of the chasis center, but it's a 1/2 inch to the right of the center of the keyboard. After I have moved the mouse cursor to where I want to type and then put my hands on the keyboard, the cursor jumps around because the left side of my right palm touches the right side of the touchpad.

    They have a feature in the touchpad settings called PalmTracking to help detect if it's your palm and not your fingers touching it, but that seems to only work when a lot of the palm is resting on the touchpad. I've set it to maximum, but it doesn't help when your palm touches the edge of the pad as in my case. I've never had this problem with any other touchpad.

    I have to consciously train myself to keep my right palm elevated.
    Reply
  • rjp0503 - Friday, November 13, 2009 - link

    Sorry, this post about the touchpad was intended for the review of the Asus UL80VT. For this Acer, the touchpad does appear to be keyboard centered. Reply
  • JimmyJimmington - Wednesday, October 28, 2009 - link

    Does that mean you can't access your workplace virtual machine in vmware? Reply
  • Voo - Wednesday, October 28, 2009 - link

    Afaik if you want to run a 64bit guest OS you need hardware virtualization, otherwise you should be fine (at least with VMware) Reply
  • NTB - Wednesday, October 28, 2009 - link

    I believe VMWare will run regardless of whether or not your CPU has virtualization extensions; it will just run more efficiently on those CPUs that do.

    If you're using Microsoft's VirtualPC like XP Mode does, then it depends on where the virtual machine is located - if you want to run it on your local machine, then yes: no virtualization on the CPU = no local XP Mode. If the VM is running on a corporate server and you only use remote desktop to get in, that should work regardless of whether your CPU has virtulization extensions or not.

    Nathan
    Reply

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