Many Ultrabooks such as the Asus Zenbook UX31E and Toshiba Portege Z830 command a heavy premium for their super-slim design and powerful configuration. Even those that feature less powerful processors and hard drives instead of SSDs are overpriced for the kind of performance they offer. Let’s find out whether Acer’s Aspire Timeline U series has the potential to give its rivals a run for their money.
Sleek design and a powerful configuration
Build Quality and Ergonomics
The ports should have been placed on the sides for easier access
We liked the placement of the USB, HDMI and Ethernet ports on the sides in the TimelineX. In the Timeline U M3-581TG, all the ports, and even the stereo headset jack, are placed on the rear. If not all, at least the USB ports should have been placed on the sides for easier access. In this case, plugging in a USB flash drive or any other device would be frustrating, requiring the user to turn the notebook around or use a USB extension cord or a hub. Thankfully, the card reader is placed on the side, next to the DVD-writer. The right side is completely empty.
The keyboard is of the chiclet type and Acer has managed to squeeze in a numeric pad thanks to the large form. The keyboard layout is nice with a good amount of spacing between the keys. However, the tactile response is not up to the mark and the key travel is shallow, which makes typing uncomfortable.
Chiclet type keyboard and a large touchpad
The touchpad is large and there aren’t any buttons. Like on the MacBook, it’s a clickpad and you can click by pressing down anywhere on the surface. Left and right clicks are detected by the driver according to the position of your finger. Many a times, we had to position the finger towards the corner of the touchpad for the driver to correctly detect right-clicks. We feel a regular touchpad with large, tactile buttons would have been better.
The lid feels quite rigid thanks to the aluminium sheet on the exterior that bears the Acer logo in chrome right at the centre. We wish Acer had used stiffer hinges to lend better support to the lid. They feel a bit loose as the lid wobbles while adjusting the viewing angle or with the slightest jerk.
The overall build of the Timeline U M3-581TG isn’t excellent, but good. The all-black colour scheme with matte finish looks nice. The quality of the plastic used is very good. Despite the good looks and an ultra-slim design, we still found something lacking. We feel that a metal palm rest instead of a plastic one would have lent a premium feel that this Ultrabook somewhat lacks. It’s absolutely not too much to ask considering the price it commands.
Updated 18 Jun, 2013, 8:58 pm IST
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