The TimelineX is Acer’s name for ultra-thin laptops with simulated surround sound that promises over eight hours of battery life. TimelineX laptops can be found under Acer’s TravelMate (TM) and Aspire (AS) series, with Core i3, Core i5 or Core i7 processors. There are two TimelineX series under the Aspire series, the “old” and the “new.” The new Aspire TimelineX comes with a blue casing, instead of the gray and black casing that was used before, and second-generation Core i CPUs (“Sandy Bridge”). The AS3830T-6417 is part of this new series.
The Aspire TimelineX series is comprised of three different base models: the AS3830 model comes with a 13.3” display and no optical drive, while the AS4830 model comes with a 14” display and a DVD writer, and the AS5830 model comes with a 15.6” display and a DVD writer as well.
After the base model number, Acer adds a second set of numbers that encodes the type of CPU, hard drive size, and amount of RAM memory the product has. Although it would be possible to create a lot of different configurations, so far for the North-American market Acer decided to offer only five different models of their new Aspire TimelineX laptops: two configurations for the AS3830, one configuration for the AS4830, and two configurations for the AS5830. We summarize the main differences between these five models in the table below. They all come with Windows 7 Home Premium, one USB 3.0 port, Bluetooth 3.0 interface, 1.3 megapixel HD webcam, wireless IEEE 802.11b/g/n networking, Gigabit Ethernet port, HDMI, and SPDIF output. All models use the Mobile Intel HM65 Express chipset.
|CPU||Core i3-2310M||Core i5-2410M||Core i5-2410M||Core i5-2410M||Core i3-2310M|
|Memory||4 GB DDR3-1066||4 GB DDR3-1066||4 GB DDR3-1066||6 GB DDR3-1066||4 GB DDR3-1066|
|Hard Drive||500 GB||500 GB||640 GB||640 GB||640 GB|
|GPU||CPU||GeForce GT 540M||CPU||GeForce GT 520M||CPU|
|USB 2.0 Ports||Two||Two||Two||Three||Three|
|MSRP in the US||USD 650||USD 780||USD 700||USD 800||USD 600|
Although the manufacturer lists that all laptops use DDR3-1066 memories, our model came with DDR3-1333 parts.
As you can see, two of the models have a dedicated graphics chip (GeForce GT 520M or GeForce GT 540M), while the other models rely on the graphics processor integrated in the CPU.
Believe it or not, Acer’s website and the product manual don’t list all features present on the laptop. They fail to mention that new TimelineX models have USB 3.0 ports (which is a major feature); they don’t list the resolution of the embedded webcam; and the chipset isn’t listed. They say the product comes with DDR3-1066 memories, but our model (which we bought at a regular store) came with DDR3-1333 modules instead. They also don’t publish a complete list of programs that come pre-installed.
Let’s now take a better look at the Aspire TimelineX AS3830T-6417.
The Acer Aspire TimelineX AS3830T-6417 comes inside a color cardboard box (shown in Figure 1), protected by a brown cardboard box (not shown).
The laptop comes only with its power supply and a thin manual. A more complete manual is available installed on the computer, as a PDF file. Some users like products that come with a recovery disc; however, you can create this disc launching the Acer eRecovery Management program that comes installed. You will need to install an external DVD burner to create this disc, since the AS3830T doesn’t come with an optical drive.
[nextpage title=”Overall Look”]
In Figure 3, you have an overall look at the Acer Aspire TimelineX AS3830T-6417 with its lid closed. Its metallic blue finishing is really beautiful. After a while, you will see some fingerprints on it, but it is not as bad as what happens with laptops with glossy black finishing. Closed, the laptop measures 1.15 x 12.64 x 9 inches (29.2 x 321 x 228.6 mm) (H x W x D) and weighs 4.1 lbs (1.85 kg).
On the front part of the laptop, there is a button with a battery symbol on it. When pressed, an LED lights up indicating the battery status. When the laptop is connected to the wall, blue means the battery is fully charged, while orange indicates the battery is charging. When the laptop is running on batteries, blue indicates that there is less than 30% charge remaining, orange means there is between 30% and 10% charge remaining, and red means that there is less than 10% charge left. This button also works when the computer is turned off.
This is a major change from the previous Aspire models, where this LED is really big and is on all the time while the computer is connected to the wall. This is definitely a nice change – try to sleep in the same room with a laptop that emits a bright light even when it is turned off.
There is also a memory card reader, which supports the Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, MultiMediaCard (MMC), Secure Digital (SD), and xD formats.
On the left side of the laptop we have the power supply connector, VGA output, HDMI output, one USB 2.0 port, and one USB 3.0 port.
On the right side of the laptop we have the audio jacks (with the headphones jack supporting SPDIF), one USB 2.0 port, Gigabit Ethernet port, and a place for installing an anti-theft device from Kensington.
[nextpage title=”Overall Look (Cont’d)”]
In Figure 7, you see the laptop opened, with its 13.3” 16:9 widescreen display with LED backlight. The 1.3-megapixel HD webcam and microphone are embedded on the top part of the display, as is the norm.
The speakers are located between the keyboard and the display, and simulate 5.1 audio.
The keys look like they are the “bubble gum” type, however, they are solid. Since there is a lot of space between keys, the chances of your hitting the wrong key by mistake while typing are considerably reduced. This is a major departure from the kind of keyboard Acer uses on other Aspire models. Compare Figures 10 and 11.
The Home, Page Up, Page Down, and End keys are located on the extreme right of the keyboard. While using the computer, this proved to be a major advantage for navigating inside documents.
The power button is located to the left of the speakers, while a key labeled “P” is located to the right of the speakers. This button puts the laptop in power-saving mode.
The touchpad, shown in Figure 12, supports commands by gesture.
In Figure 13, you see the bottom panel of the laptop. Here we noticed two things that are completely different from other laptops we’ve seen to date. First, the battery is located inside the computer, and it is not removable. It is a six-cell, Lithium-Ion model with 6000 mA/h autonomy, which translates to a maximum of nine hours of battery life, according to the manufacturer.
The second different thing about this laptop is that it doesn’t have separate lids for accessing the hard drive and the memory modules. If you want to access these components, you must remove the whole bottom lid, which is easy to do, since it is attached to the laptop body using only one screw.
The Acer Aspire TimelineX AS3830T-6417 comes with two 2 GB DDR3-1333/PC3-10600 memory modules from Hynix, model HMT325S6BFR8C-H9, installed in dual-channel mode.
The laptop comes with a Seagate Momentus 5400.6 500 GB hard drive (ST9500325AS), which is a SATA-300 device spinning at 5,400 rpm with 8 MB cache. Its real capacity is 465.76 GB.
The wireless network card is an Atheros AR5B97 mini PCI Express model, supporting IEEE 802.11b/g/n standards.
The Acer Aspire TimelineX AS3830T-6417 comes with the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium installed.
The product comes with several useful utilities from Acer installed, such as the Acer eRecovery Management (for creating the operating system recovery discs, so you can reinstall your operating system to the factory default in the future), Acer Backup Manager, and Acer Crystal Eye Webcam (for testing the webcam, making videos, and taking snapshots with it). Utilities from the hardware vendors (Intel and Renesas) are also included.
The laptop also comes with several games not originally included with Windows 7: Zuma’s Revenge, Virtual Villagers 4: The Tree of Life, Torchlight, Polar Golfer, Polar Bowler, Poker Superstars III, Plants vs. Zombies – Game of the Year, Penguins!, Namco All Stars: Pac-Man, Mystery P.I. – Stolen in Sand Francisco, Jewel Quest Heritage, Final Drive: Nitro, FATE – The Traitor Soul, Dora’s World Adventure, Diner Dash 2 Restaurant Rescue, Chuzzle Deluxe, Built-a-lot 2, Bejeweled 2 Deluxe, and Agatha Christie – 4:50 from Paddington.
The main highlight of the software package included with this laptop is the Microsoft Office 2010. Upon launching it you can choose to enter a valid key, buy Office 2010 online, or use Office 2010 Starter, which includes ad-based, limited versions of Word and Excel. If you want to buy the Office 2010 package, it will cost you USD 150 for the Home and Student 2010 version (includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote), USD 28
0 for the Home and Business 2010 version (same programs plus Outlook) or USD 500 for the Professional 2010 version (same programs as the Home and Business plus Publisher and Access).
Aside from that, the product comes with more than its fair share of “bloatware” (questionable software that comes pre-installed on a new computer), and you will spend some time uninstalling them in order to free up some space and leave your computer more organized:
- Adobe Reader 9.1
- Barnes & Noble Nook
- Launch Manager
- McAfee Internet Security Suite
- Norton Online Backup
- NTI Media Maker 9
- Times Reader
- Plus links to eBay and Netflix on the desktop
While you would have installed programs such as Acrobat Reader and Skype anyway, they are not in their most current versions, and you will need to update them when using them for the first time. The MacAfee package would be great if it were free. Since it is a 30-day trial version, you will probably end up uninstalling it and installing a good free anti-virus program.
In Figure 17 we show exactly how the desktop looks when you turn on the computer for the first time.
The Aspire TimelineX AS3830T-6417 is a nimble computer. Although the Core i3 is considered today an entry-level CPU, if you are upgrading from an older laptop, you will instantly feel the difference in performance. Even if your previous laptop was based on a Core i3, the performance gain will be very noticeable, since this machine uses a second-generation Core i3 (“Sandy Bridge”), which has a different internal architecture from the first Core i3 CPUs.
The screen resolution, at 1366 x 768, is not bad at all for the 13.3” display. The screen is, however, very glossy, and depending on the angle and lighting of the room in which you are working, you will see yourself and the furniture around being reflected on the screen all the time, which can be quite distracting.
The quality of the webcam is one of the highlights of the product. The image is crispy and can produce a resolution of up to 1280 x 1024.
The sound quality and volume are not bad for a laptop, being way above the average. The placement of the speakers on the top of the unit instead of on its bottom also helps.
The keyboard is very good. The keys are spaced enough, and we didn’t have any mistyping problem while using the unit, a common problem with laptops. Acer hit the bull’s eye by moving the Home, Page Up, Page Down, and End keys to the extreme right of the keyboard, making it easier to navigate inside documents.
The touchpad that accepts gesture commands is another highlight. For example, you can move your thumb and index finger to increase or decrease the zoom on the document you are viewing. This is quite convenient, especially if you are a user of a smartphone that has similar functionality.
With light office usage (i.e., using Word and Excel, checking emails, browsing the web), battery life can easily go over eight hours – impressive.
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]
The main specifications for the Acer Aspire TimelineX AS3830T-6417 laptop include:
- Dimensions: 1.15 x 12.64 x 9 inches (29.2 x 321 x 228.6 mm) (H x W x D)
- Weight: 4.1 lbs (1.85 kg)
- Screen size: 13.3” with 1366 x 768 native resolution
- CPU: Core i3-2310M (dual-core, 2.1 GHz, 3 MB cache)
- Chipset: Mobile Intel HM65 Express
- RAM: 4 GB DDR3-1333/PC3-10600 (two Hynix HMT325S6BFR8C-H9 modules)
- Hard drive: Seagate Momentus 5400.6 500 GB (ST9500325AS, SATA-300, 5,400 rpm, and 8 MB cache)
- Optical drive: None
- Webcam: 1.3 Megapixels, up to 1280 x 1024 resolution
- Wireless networking: IEEE 802.11b/g/n using an Atheros AR5B97 mini PCI Express card
- Ports: Two USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port, VGA, HDMI, and Gigabit Ethernet
- Memory card reader: Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, MultiMediaCard (MMC), Secure Digital (SD), and xD
- Operating system: Windows 7 Home Premium
- More Information: https://us.acer.com
- Average Price in the US*: USD 650.00
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this First Look article.
The Acer Aspire TimelineX AS3830T-6417 is a very good laptop for the average user who wants a fast portable with the latest technologies. We found it a little bit heavy for an “ultra thin” model, but users who are used to carrying a brick in their backpacks will certainly think the weight of this new model is fair. Battery life is certainly one of the highlights of the product.
- Good audio quality
- Good webcam
- Good keyboard
- Touchpad accepts gesture-based commands
- USB 3.0 port
- SPDIF output
- Exceptional battery life
- Acer’s website doesn’t list all the features and programs that come with the product
- A little bit heavy for an “ultra thin” laptop
- Some users will prefer a model with an optical drive
- Screen is too reflexive