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Acer TravelMate 6291-6753 Review

Our Verdict

Acer's budget-friendly 12.1-inch notebook doesn't sport the latest specs but lasts nearly a full workday.

For

  • Excellent battery life
  • Good performance for price
  • Fast 802.11n Wi-Fi throughput
  • Built-in webcam and Bluetooth

Against

  • Thick and heavy for a 12.1-inch notebook
  • Last-generation Centrino chipset

Who would buy a lightweight notebook with Windows XP and a last-generation Centrino processor? A smart buyer who wants to save a bundle. The Acer TravelMate 6291-6753 may not have cutting-edge specs, but it delivers good performance and more than six hours of battery life, thanks to its nine-cell battery. At $1,049, this is one of the best bargain 12.1-inch systems around.

Although it's not nearly as sleek and light as the more expensive Sony VAIO TZ or Toshiba Portg R500, the 4.8-pound TravelMate 6291 is a handsome charcoal-gray-and-black notebook. A mirrored strip shows adds a touch of flair above the comfortable, nearly full-sized keyboard, while the silver outline surrounding the wide touchpad looks a tad retro. Beneath the keyboard is a convenient four-way scrolling button flanked by two solid but quiet touchpad buttons.

A vertical row of quick-launch buttons to the right of the keyboard operates the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections, launches the browser, and fires up your e-mail client. Next to the power button is an "e" button that launches a toolbar for tweaking everything from security settings to power options. Status lights near the hinge indicate Caps Lock, Num Lock, and CPU activity.

Acer includes a generous amount of features for the price, including a VGA webcam above the 12.1-inch display, a 120GB hard drive, and a DVD burner. You also get a 5-in-1 memory card reader and a PC Card slot, ideal for adding the cheaper variety of mobile broadband cards. At first, the matte screen looked small because of the thick bezel surrounding it, but the 1280 x 800-pixel panel was plenty bright and crisp on our tests. Just be prepared to zoom in a bit on Web pages and Word docs.

The TravelMate 6291-6753 offers plenty of pep for an XP machine--even without the latest Centrino chipset. The 1.66-GHz Core 2 Duo T5500 coupled with 2GB of RAM yielded a good PCMark05 score of 3,031. That beats the $899 Averatec 2371 with 1GB of RAM by more than 300 points, although that system runs the more resource-hungry Windows Vista and weighs 0.7 pounds less. The TravelMate 6291 earned 248 on MobileMark 07, a seemingly very good score, but because the test is relatively new, we're hesitant to give it too much weight just yet. Graphics performance was expectedly mediocre, with a 3DMark score of 1,618.

While the processor is so 2006, Acer does include the latest wireless technology, and the 802.11n Wi-Fi connection turned in impressive data rates above 18 Mbps at both 15 and 50 feet away from our access point. Endurance is this notebook's greatest strength; the beefy nine-cell battery (which hangs off the back) provided a very long 6 hours and 18 minutes of power. The TravelMate 6291-6753 lasted for nearly 4.5 hours on our DVD rundown test, which means you should be able to get through a double feature on your next flight.

Assuming you don't have the need--or desire--to run Vista, the Acer TravelMate 6291-6753 is an excellent value for highly mobile users. It's a smart investment for students and frequent flyers on a budget.

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Tech Specs

CPU1.66-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5500
RAM2GB
Size12 x 8.9 x 1.4 inches
Weight4.8 pounds
Display Size12.1
Native Resolution1280x800
Hard Drive Size120GB
Hard Drive TypeSATA Hard Drive
Operating SystemMS Windows XP Pro
Ports (excluding USB)Headphone, Firewire, Ethernet, Modem, Microphone, IR
Video Memory512MB
Wi-Fi802.11a/g/n
USB Ports3
Warranty/Support24/7 tech support at www.acersupport.com., Toll-free, Mon-Fri 7AM to 9PM CT, Sat. 8AM-6PM CT, Sun. 8AM to 5PM CT
Card Slots5-1 card reader, Type I/II
BrandAcer
RAM Upgradable to4GB
Company Websiteus.acer.com
BluetoothBluetooth 2.0
Optical DriveDVD-RW
Optical Drive Speed8X
Graphics CardIntel GMA 950
Hard Drive Speed5,400rpm
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Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.