The Acer TravelMate 6460-6263 is a mainstream model aimed at business buyers. As such, it's priced slightly higher than other entries here but includes such extras as a built-in webcam, a fingerprint reader, and Bluetooth. We just wish it had a longer battery life.
The dark-gray, metallic flake chassis is simple and inoffensive, and it strikes the right tone for a corporate player. The TravelMate 6460-6263 weighs 6.4 pounds (at the high end of the range here) but feels even heavier. Blame the bulk on the seemingly wasted space around the screen and keyboard, which gives the unit a larger footprint than the other 15.4-inch widescreen models we tested.
The matte-finish screen is the right choice for a fluorescent-lit office setting, though you do lose some crispness in onscreen images, and DVD movies lose the vibrancy you'd get from a glossy display. The panel's 1280 x 800-pixel resolution is comfortable to work on, and viewing angles were generally good. Audio quality from the deck-mounted speakers was fine, although you'll wish for more volume when you're giving presentations around a conference table.
The TravelMate 6460-6263 includes Acer's slightly curved ergonomic keyboard, which is comfortable and quiet to work on. The large touchpad has (unmarked) vertical and horizontal scroll areas, plus a four-way rocker switch for navigation. A pointing stick and a second set of mouse buttons will please users who prefer a ThinkPad-like feel.
The 2-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and the 2GB of RAM helped the TravelMate 6460-6263 deliver a solid score of 3,943 on PCMark05 and 2,691 on 3DMark03. It can easily handle the demands of the taxing new OS and other productivity apps. The 128MB ATI Mobility Radeon X1300 GPU is fine for business duties and even delivered decent frame rates, as long as you're willing to play 3D games at low resolution.
The system managed a very good 95 frames per second in F.E.A.R.
on its autodetect 640 x 480-pixel resolution but dropped to just 6 fps with the settings maxed out. Still, the machine's Windows Experience Index graphics subscore of 3.5 (on a scale of 5.9) shows it can handle Aero and other Vista visual bling just fine. (A machine needs a score of 3.0 or higher to deliver the full Aero experience.) In general, none of these scores is the best or the worst compared with Acer's competitors, but the TravelMate 6460-6263 delivered above-average scores in four out of the eight tests.
We were disappointed with the TravelMate 6460-6263's battery life. It lasted 1 hour and 48 minutes on our DVD rundown test, a time that will have business travelers hunting for AC outlets more often than they should. Unfortunately, there's no option for an extended battery, either, so you may want to invest in a second battery for air and car travel. On the plus side, the unit's 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi throughput was consistently very good, delivering a rate of 16 Mbps at both 15 and 50 feet.
Keeping with the business theme, the installed OS is Windows Vista Business edition. You lose the Windows Media Center features (photo, music, video playback) found in other variations of the OS but gain a built-in remote-access client, more robust backup and restore utilities, and Vista's Windows Fax and Scan application. Acer adds its own helpful "Acer Empowering" software suite, which delivers networking and security management, a presentations wizard, recovery tools, and more. Rounding out the software are CD/DVD and backup applications by NTI.
Port selection is one of the 6460-6263's strong points. In addition to the usual fare, you'll find a DVI-D port, a 5-in-1 card reader, and both a Type II PC Card slot and an ExpressCard/34 slot. Also worth noting: The 160GB hard drive uses Acer's active-protection system.
Given all of its features, the Acer TravelMate 6460-6263 is a solid choice for business users. If you don't mind a little extra bulk and can live with mediocre battery life, this mainstream machine has the power you need to run Vista.