How much performance can you pack into a notebook for $729? For Acer, the answer is: a lot. The 14-inch Acer Aspire TimelineX 4830TG-6808 combines discrete Nvidia graphics and a Core i5 processor in a sub 5-pound design, which means you can get your game on anywhere. Add in more than 7 hours of battery life in an attractive design and you have a machine that can go toe-to-toe with anything HP or Dell has to offer.
Acer seems to be pursuing uniformity across the board with its notebooks. The Aspire TimelineX 4830TG-6808 has undergone a makeover, ditching the black brushed aluminum lid in favor of the midnight blue chassis seen on the 3800 and 5800 lines. The lid is bare with the exception of the chrome diamond-cut Acer logo in the center.
The brushed metal interior has been replaced with the two-tone silver and midnight blue motif found in other Aspire TimelineX series. A large Dolby Home Theater speaker sits in between buttons for and the Power Smart Manager. A black Chiclet keyboard rests beneath in the silver keyboard deck above the midnight blue brushed aluminum palm rest.
Measuring 13.3 x 9.4 x 1.2 inches, the 4830TG-6808 is larger and thicker than both the 13 x 9 x 0.9-1.1-inch Gateway ID47H07u and the 13.1 x 9.6 x 1.1-inch ASUS U46SV. However, at 4.6 pounds, the 4830TG-6808 is lighter than the 5-pound U46SV, but heavier than the 4.4 pound-ID47H07u and HP Pavilion dm4t.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The black island-style keyboard on the TimelineX 4830TG has small keys with generous spacing. Despite their diminutive size, we received firm feedback from the flat keys. However, we wish that the Tab, Caps Lock and Left Shift keys were a little larger, especially with the oversized Right Shift key.
The 3.4 x 1.75-inch Synaptics on the Acer's touchpad offered swift, accurate motions on gestures such as pinch-to-zoom, two-finger flick, scroll and rotate. Navigating in documents and websites was a breeze as was highlighting certain passages. We found the discrete mouse buttons had nice, springy feedback.
Display and Audio
Images on the 14-inch HD Widescreen CineCrystal LCD 1366 x 768p display were sharp and clear, but not as vibrant as we would have liked. Still, the 1080p YouTube trailer of "The Amazing Spiderman" yielded deep blues and warm yellows. We saw varying gradients of yellow, red and orange in a sunset scene as well as intricate yet tangled webbing. Averaging 186 lux, the display was brighter than the 175 thin-and-light average, but couldn't match the U46SV (233 lux). Viewing angles were rather shallow. We started seeing color wash out past 45 degrees to either side.
Audio from the Dolby Home Theater-assisted speakers provided loud, clear audio. We easily filled a large room with Marsha Ambrosius' rich sultry alto on "Far Away." While we clearly heard piano and percussion although during dramatic swells, the percussion sounded slightly brassy, throwing the rest of the track off.
After watching a full-screen Hulu video for 15 minutes, the touchpad on the 4830TG measured 90 degrees Fahrenheit, five degrees below what we consider to be uncomfortable (95 degrees). The space between the G and H keys and the underside of the notebook measured 88 and 84 degrees, respectively.
Ports and Webcam
The right side of the 4830TG has two USB 2.0 ports, a tray-loading DVD burner and jacks for headphone, microphone and power. A USB 3.0 port with sleep-and-charge capabilities can be found on the left side along with HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet, VGA and a Kensington lock slot. A 5-in-1 card reader and a silver button that shows how much charge is left in the battery sit on the left front lip of the notebook.
The 1.3 megapixel webcam captures still and images in 1280 x 1024 pixels using the Acer CrystalEye software. Under florescent lighting, we found images to be clear with sharp detail, albeit rather dark. When we moved to natural lighting, we saw vivid, accurate colors. On a Skype call, our caller reported loud audio with a nice clear image. They were also able to read the poster behind us.
The Acer Aspire TimelineX 4830TG-6808 performed quite well in our tests, thanks to its 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-2450M CPU with 4GB of RAM, 500GB 5,400-rpm hard drive and switchable graphics (Intel HD Graphics, Nvidia GeForce GT 540M with 1GB of VRAM). We streamed a movie from Netflix with eight open tabs in Google Chrome and Internet Explorer with no lag.
During the PCMark07 benchmark, which measures overall performance, the 4830TG-6808 scored 2,120, slightly less than the 2,142 thin-and-light category average. The ASUS U46SV and its 2.4-GHz Intel Core i5-2430M processor notched 2,086 while the Gateway ID47H07u delivered 2,342.
The 4830TG-6808's 500GB 5,400-rpm hard drive loaded the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium in 65 seconds, 4 seconds slower than the 0:61 average. During the File Transfer test, the 4830TG duplicated 4.97GB of mixed media files in 3 minutes and 9 seconds, a transfer rate of 26.9 MBps. That's a few points shy of the 27.5 MBps category average.
The Acer 4830TG took 5 minutes and 2 seconds to match 20,000 names to their corresponding address on the OpenOffice test. That's 1 minute and 3 seconds faster than the average, and about half a minute faster than the ID47H07u (5:27) and the U46SV (5:33).
Using Nvidia Optimus technology, the 4830TG-6808 automatically switches between its Intel HD Graphics and Nvidia GeForce GT 540M GPU, depending on the task.
Using its discrete GPU, the 4830TG notched an impressive 8,895 on the 3DMark06 benchmark. That's 3,978 points above the 4,917 thin-and-light average. The ASUS U46SV and its Nvidia GeForce GT 540M GPU with 1GB of VRAM scored slightly better with 8,939. The ID47H07u's integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000 GPU managed to score 4,167.
On the "World of Warcraft" benchmark, the 4830TG scored a superb 128 fps on Good at 1366 x 768. That's more than twice the 55 fps thin and light category average, and miles above the ID47H07u (36 fps) and the U47SV (61 fps). When we switched to maximum, the 4830TG-6808 scored 54 fps, equal to the U46SV, and far above the 27 fps average and ID47H07u (13 fps).
When playing the more demanding "Far Cry 2," the 4830TG averaged a still-good 43 fps with the resolution at native and effects set to Very High. That score is equal to the U46SV (45 fps), and well above the category average (25 fps).
During the LAPTOP Battery test (continuous Web surfing via Wi-Fi), the Acer Aspire TimelineX 4830TG-6808 lasted 7 hours and 37 minutes. That's much longer than the 6:10 thin-and-light category average. The ASUS U46SV delivered 6:52 while the Gateway ID47H07u lasted 7:48.
Software and Warranty
Acer packages the Acer Aspire TimelineX 4830TG with a solid suite of software. The oddly named AUPEO!, a Slacker-like music streaming service, continues to be a favorite. We love being able to create channels by artist, genre or mood. We also like NewsXpresso, which organizes our RSS feeds into a slick-looking magazine format. Desktop shortcuts for Netflix, Nook for PC and eBay are also included.
Acer-branded apps include Acer Clear.fi, which allows for easy sharing of multimedia content between DNLA-compatible devices. Acer USB Charge Manager lets users create profiles setting the parameters for sleep-and-charge. There's also Acer Games an online game store that has an ever-growing catalog of casual games.
Third party-apps include Skype, Microsoft Office Starter, Windows Live and a 60-day free trial of McAfee Internet Security.
The Acer Aspire TimelineX 4830TG-6808 comes with a 1-year limited warranty.
Our $729 review unit features a 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-2450M processor with 4GB of RAM, a 500GB 5,400-rpm hard drive, Intel HD Graphics and a Nvidia GeForce GT 540M GPU with 1GB of VRAM. There's also the $579 model that comes equipped with a 2.3-GHz Intel Core i3-2350M CPU with 6GB of RAM, a 500GB 5,400-rpm hard drive and Intel HD Graphics 3000 GPU.
While Ultrabooks are getting all the attention, it's worth noting there are other laptops out there that cost a good deal less but provide stronger performance. For $729, the Acer Aspire TimelineX 4830TG-6808 offers excellent graphics, great audio and more than seven and a half hours of battery life in an attractive and lightweight package. The comparably equipped ASUS U46SV can be found for as low as $699 online, but it doesn't last nearly as long on a charge. Those looking for graphics punch in an affordable package will be psyched to own this Acer.