Introducing the Acer Aspire Timeline
Acer is beefing up battery life in its new Aspire Timeline ultraportable laptop, revealed for the first time this week. The Timeline, expected to retail for $699 to $899, is said to be capable of a full 8 hours of computing on a single charge--more than the supposed 5-hour capability of the Dell Adamo or the 2.5-hour life span of the MacBook Air.
The Timeline will be available in three versions: a 15.6-inch, 5.3-pound model; a 14-inch, 4.2-pound unit; and a 13.3-inch, 3.5-pound edition. The Adamo, for comparison, has a 13.4-inch screen and weighs 4 pounds, while the MacBook Air sports a 13.3-inch display and weighs 3 pounds.
Next: Under the hood.
Under the Hood
Acer's Timeline models carry either the Intel Core 2 Duo SU9400 1.40GHz CPU or the Intel Core 2 Solo SU3500 1.30GHz processor. The portables support up to 4GB of DDR3 1066MHz memory, but you can expand that to 8GB by adding two SO-DIMM modules.
Each system is built with the Mobile Intel GS45 Express chipset, which includes Intel's 4500MHD Graphics Media Accelerator with 64MB of dedicated video memory. And every model offers a screen with resolution up to 1366 by 768 pixels and a 16:9 aspect ratio. As for storage, you get your choice of a 160GB, 250GB, 320GB, or 500GB hard drive. You can opt for a solid-state drive instead.
Each Acer Aspire Timeline will ship with Windows Vista Home Premium.
Next: Look and feel.
Look and Feel
Acer is moving toward a sleeker look with the Timeline series, favoring a gray brushed-metal exterior and a reduced thickness of just under 1 inch.
Each Timeline model sports a glossy "FineTip" keyboard, similar to those seen on Apple's MacBook Air machines. The Timeline keys are larger and more spaced out (rather than butted together), making typing far less challenging than it is on some previous portables. Hotkeys give you easy access to such functions as Wi-Fi controls, power adjustments, and backup utilities.
The Timeline offers multigesture support for its touchpad, too, letting you use iPhone-esque pinching motions to zoom in or out and circular motions to navigate Web pages or local folders.
Next: Multimedia support.
If you're looking to enjoy multimedia on your ultraportable, the Timeline offers three USB 2.0 ports, one HDMI port with support for HDCP, and one VGA port. The Timeline also comes with a built-in five-in-one card reader that accepts SD Card, MultiMediaCard, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, and XD Picture Card.
The Timeline is ready to deliver surround sound, too, with its S/PDIF-ready headphone/speaker/line-out jack and its integrated Dolby Sound Space Expander. The system also has a built-in microphone, as well as a standard mic-in jack.
The 14-inch and 15.6-inch models include an 8X DVD drive, along with CyberLink Power DVD and NTI Media Maker software. In addition, each Timeline provides an integrated Acer Crystal Eye Webcam and built-in Wi-Fi and WiMax support.
Next: Power progress.
Acer is working hard to make the Aspire Timeline series as power-friendly as possible. The laptops use ultralow-voltage processors and feature an "Acer Power Smart" system that lets you cut down power consumption further. When plugged in, Acer says, the Timeline can consume as much as 66 percent less electricity than Energy Star standards require. One way the Timeline accomplishes that is by switching automatically to adaptive charging mode when it detects a full battery, even if the adapter is still connected.
Acer has yet to announce an official release date for the Timeline.
Check out PC World's coverage of other new technology that could pack more power into lightweight laptops, including Intel's second-generation Atom processor, nVidia's Ion platform, and Via's 1.3GHz Nano CPU.