Acer Aspire Timeline 1810TZ Review

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$579
Editors' rating:
The Pros

Better performance than netbooks; Excellent endurance; Comfortable keyboard; HDMI output

The Cons

Lid picks up fingerprints easily; Low graphics scores

Verdict

This version of the 1810T offers good performance and long battery life for a reasonable price.

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Like its close relative, the 1810T, the Acer Aspire Timeline 1810TZ offers nearly double the power of netbooks while still delivering all-day battery life. At $579, this 11-inch machine isn't cheap, but for about $180 more than a premium netbook you're getting a dual-core processor, 4GB of RAM, and a relatively large 320GB hard drive. Plus, the 1810TZ lasts nearly 9 hours on a charge. While we're not fans of the overly glossy lid, this is one compelling ultraportable.

Design

Not surprisingly, the Aspire Timeline 1810TZ looks the same as the Timeline 1810T and 1410; while at 11.2 x 8 x 1.2 inches it shares the same dimensions as its predecessors, it's a slightly lighter 3 pounds. Our review unit had a glossy black lid with Acer's metal logo impressed in the upper corner, and it picks up fingerprints fairly easily. The deck is a silver plastic that's a decent simulacrum of brushed aluminum, and is offset by the matte black keyboard and glossy black bezel.

Thankfully, the 1810TZ's six-cell battery does not bulge out the back. Instead, it bumps out of the bottom, tilting the system at a slight downward angle towards the user.

Heat

After playing a Hulu video at full screen for 15 minutes, we measured the temperature of the 1810TZ: the touchpad and the area between the G and H keys was 82 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively, and the middle of the undercarriage got as hot as 99 degrees. That last temperature is almost a cause for concern; we consider anything over 100 degrees to be too hot.

Keyboard and Touchpad

Like most other Acer notebooks, the 1810TZ's keyboard has Acer's flat, non-chamfered FineTip keys that have a slightly textured feel. The layout is close to full size, and we appreciate that the right Shift key is large and in the proper place. We were typing at full speed in no time at all.

The touchpad sits flush with the deck, and it's only demarcated by two lines on either side. At 2.6 x 1.5 inches, it's decently sized, and a bit larger than the Aspire One 751h's 2.5 x 1.6-inch touchpad; we liked how it offered little resistance as we moved our finger across it. (Toshiba's mini NB305 still offers the largest touchpad around, at 3.1 x 1.6 inches.) While small, the accompanying silver buttons proved nice and crisp.



Display and Sound

Like other notebooks with 11.6-inch displays, the 1810TZ has a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. That means less scrolling when viewing web pages or documents than when using a netbook, and that you can view high-definition content in 720p. The screen is bright, too. When we watched The Drunken Master on Hulu, we enjoyed fairly vivid colors and good viewing angles even from the side. While the glossy finish created distracting reflections, we were still able to make out the clip when we dipped the lid forward slightly.

The 1810TZ's speakers, located on the underside of the deck's front lip, were fine for a small notebook (lack of bass notwithstanding), but their placement caused sound to be muffled while the notebook was in our lap. When the notebook was placed on a hard surface, such as a coffee table, music played from Slacker was able to reflect upwards, and was more amplified.

Ports and Webcam

On the right side of the 1810TZ is an Ethernet port, a Kensington lock slot, two USB ports, headphone and mic, and a 5-in-1 memory card reader. On the left-hand side is a VGA port, a third USB port, and HDMI output. Underneath the front lip on the left-hand side are well-concealed switches to activate Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

The 1.3-megapixel webcam mounted above the display worked fairly well; colors, such as a dark green shirt, were reproduced adequately in a video call over Skype. Our caller also said that the image was sufficiently lighted, and that motion blur only became an issue if we waved our hand vigorously.

 

Performance

While the Aspire 1410 had a 1.2-GHz Intel Celeron SU2300 processor and the 1810T had a 1.3-GHz Intel Pentium SU7300 CPU, the 1810TZ uses a 1.3-GHz Intel Pentium SU4100 CPU. Aided by 4GB of RAM, the 1810TZ was able to notch a score of 2,830 in PCMark Vantage, about 400 points above the 1410 (2,475) and just 100 points below the 1810T. That's about 600 points below the ultraportable average, but we had no problems surfing the web, listening to music, and watching videos streamed from Hulu. The 1810TZ's Geekbench score of 1,623 is about equal to the 1810T, and 100 points higher than the 1410. It's also nearly double that of the netbook average (868).

The 1810TZ's 5,400-rpm, 250GB hard drive booted Windows 7 Home Premium in a fairly snappy 56 seconds. It duplicated a 4.97GB folder of multimedia files at a rate of 19.6 MBps, 6 MBps slower than average. We also tested the 1810TZ by converting a 114MB MPEG-4 file to AVI using Oxelon Media Encoder. It took the notebook 1 minute and 56 seconds; that's about 20 seconds faster than the ultraportable average, and 4 minutes faster than netbooks.

Graphics Performance

Predictably, the 1810TZ's graphics scores were weak; the Intel GMA 4500MHD GPU mustered 586 in 3DMark06, nearly the same as the 1410. While that's well above the netbook average of 214--which includes Nivia Ion systems--it's still about 450 points below the ultraportable average, and about half that of the HP Mini 311 (with Ion graphics).

Playing World of Warcraft on the 1810TZ was a little rough. With the resolution set to 1024 x 768, we saw an average frame rate of 22 frames per second, which dipped to 4 fps when we upped the game to the native resolution. However, the GPU is strong enough to take advantage of the notebook's HDMI port; when connected to a 32-inch Samsung HDTV, we were able to play high-def videos without a problem. A 1080p trailer for Iron Man 2 zipped along without any stuttering or hitching.

Battery Life and Wi-Fi

The one area where netbooks typically have the advantage over ULV processors is in endurance, but the 1810TZ comes close. On the LAPTOP Battery Test (web surfing via Wi-Fi) this laptop lasted 8 hours and 47 minutes; that's nearly identical to the 1810T (8:45), well beyond the 1410 (6:33), and even marginally better than the Toshiba mini NB305 netbook (8:37).

The Intel WiFi Link 1000AGN 802.11a/b/g/draft-n Wi-Fi throughput of 36.5 Mbps at 15 feet from our access point was comfortably above the category average (25.2 Mbps). However, its throughput of 16.4 Mbps from 50 feet was a bit under the average of 18.7 Mbps.

 

Greenness

The 1810TZ took an interminable 4 hours and 46 minutes to completely recharge, but only used an average of 23.1 watts during that time. Owing to its excellent battery life, the 1810TZ's LAPTOP Battery Efficiency Rating was a low 12.5, better than the ultraportable average (19.6), as well as the netbook average (16.5).

Configurations

In addition to Diamond Black, Acer offers the 1810TZ in either Sapphire Blue or Ruby Red. As mentioned, users can also get the higher-powered 1810T, which comes with a 1.3-GHz Intel SU7300 processor.

Software and Warranty

Acer includes a spate of its own apps with the 1810TZ (including GameZone and Crystal Eye webcam software), as well as CyberLink PowerDVD, Google Desktop and Toolbar, a 30-day trial of McAfee Internet Security Suite, a 60-day trial of Microsoft Office Home & Student 2007, and Microsoft Works 9.0.

Acer covers the 1810TZ with a one-year warranty, which includes 24/7 toll-free phone support. Check out Acer's performance in our Tech Support Showdown to see how the company stacks up against the competition.

Verdict

The 1810TZ is a very capable ultraportable at an affordable price. Its endurance is excellent, its keyboard a pleasure to use, and it offers a fair amount of speed for a such a small and inexpensive system. However, at $579, it's just $20 cheaper than the 1810T, which has an even faster processor and the same battery life. If you don't mind sacrificing a few hours of runtime, the equally totable Toshiba Satellite T135D offers double the graphics performance and a larger 13-inch display for $599. Still, the 1810TZ offers a nice combination of power and portability for less than $600.

 

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Author Bio
Michael A. Prospero
Michael A. Prospero, Reviews Editor
Michael A. Prospero has overseen reviews on Laptopmag.com since 2007, focusing on producing the most thorough and authoritative mobile product reviews. After receiving his Master of Science in Journalism from Columbia in 2003, Mike worked at Fast Company. Prior to that, he worked at The Times of Trenton, George and AlleyCat News.
Michael A. Prospero, Reviews Editor on
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Laptop Mag & Tom's Hardware
CPU 1.3-GHz Intel Pentium SU4100
Operating System MS Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
RAM 4GB
RAM Upgradable to 4GB
Hard Drive Size 320GB
Hard Drive Speed 5,400rpm
Hard Drive Type SATA Hard Drive
Display Size 11.6
Native Resolution 1366x768
Optical Drive
Optical Drive Speed
Graphics Card Intel GMA 4500MHD
Video Memory Shared
Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/draft-n
Bluetooth
Mobile Broadband
Ports (excluding USB) VGA
Ports (excluding USB) Microphone
Ports (excluding USB) Headphone
Ports (excluding USB) HDMI
Ports (excluding USB) Ethernet
USB Ports 3
Card Slots 5-1 card reader
Warranty/Support 1-year/24/7 toll-free
Size 11.2 x 8 x 0.9-1.2 inches
Weight 3 pounds
Company Website www.acer.com