The Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820T-3697 is a thin and light 14″ laptop with a somewhat industrial, business-like design that is complimented by a slick brushed aluminum cover. Under the hood you get a 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-450M dual-core processor with Turbo Boost Technology and 3 MB L3 cache. Intel Turbo Boost technology helps provide you with more performance when you need it. The way it works is that the processor automatically adapts its speed according to whatever you’re doing at the moment. So when you start doing a processor intensive task, the processor will get faster. The processor will then slow down when you’re doing low performance tasks. This helps contribute to the energy efficiency of a PC and can help improve battery life. And in this case, the Acer Aspire TimelineX AS4820T’s battery life really excels. Other features include a 500GB 5400RPM hard drive, 4GB of ram, Intel HD Graphics, 4GB of ram, a 8x SuperMulti DVD±R/RW drive, 1.3megapixel HD web cam with a 1280 x 1024 resolution, stereo speakers with third-generation Dolby Home Theater audio, Wireless-N Wi-Fi, ethernet, Bluetooth 3.0, a multi-in-1 digital media card reader, 4 usb ports, and HDMI output for playing back movies on a TV or external LCD.
The Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820T is indeed very attractive with its black brushed aluminum cover and complimenting brushed metal palm rest, you can best describe it as business man style (or woman) meets industrial chic. Unfortunately this lovely cover tends to pick up fingerprints and smudges easily, but that is hardly a deal-breaker and overall the laptop feels like it is built well. With its battery, the Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820T-3697 weighs just a bit over 5lbs, so it’s hardly an ultraportable, but still easy enough to carry around with you all day long. At its thinnest point it measures less than an inch thick. However, the included extended battery adds a significant piece of bulk to the back of the laptop which makes it thicker and less able to fit into a standard sleeve. That said, there is a benefit to the battery’s obtrusive design and that is that it helps position the keyboard at a more comfortable typing angle.
Say goodbye to power chords. You can pretty much make it through the day on the Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820T-3697′s battery alone. The TimelineX 4820T-2697 advertises a 11.5 hours on a charge with a special 9-cell battery. Other laptops in the Acer TimelineX 4820T series advertise an 8 hour battery life and weigh 4.7lbs with a smaller, slimmer battery. I haven’t gotten the 4820T-3697 it to stretch out quite to 11.5 hours, because I generally have the computer set to high performance, with the display on its brightest setting with wi-fi turned on, and I am generally doing processor intense tasks, but even with those settings I’ve gotten an average of 6 to 8 hours of battery life.
The TimelineX AS4820T sports a 14″ widescreen LED-backlit display with 16:9 HD True Cinematic View and a 1,366 x 768 resolution. That sounds good on paper, but in reality the display really isn’t all that good. Perhaps, I’m just a harsh critic, and chances are that most people would find the display to be acceptable. But my eyes are very critical when it comes to displays and I find the colors on the Acer TimelineX AS4820T to be too washed out and difficult to read in sunlight. I even find myself developing a strain while using it for long periods of time – which is a shame because the battery life is so great, that you can indeed use it for a long period of time on battery alone. Overall, the display is poor considering it’s using LED technology which usually produces more vibrant colors. That said, the viewing angles are acceptable for watching movies with others, and the notebook is able to conveniently open up to a 165 degrees angle.
The Acer Aspire TimelineX AS4820T-3697 features Intel HD Graphics with 128 MB of dedicated system memory. With Intel’s latest generation of Core processors they have moved to an architecture that integrates the graphics onto the processor itself. That means that manufacturers can build more compact systems, and that users can play a lot more than just casual games, even without having a discreet graphics card built-in. Intel HD Graphics also helps provide smooth playback of HD videos – both 1080p YouTube and Quicktime files played back without a hitch.
The webcam is just ok. The included Acer Crystal Eye WebCam software is pretty much no frills but it does allow you to adjust settings like brightness, contrast, sharpness, etc, as well as allowing you to take snapshots upto 1280×1024 in resolution. Overall, the WebCam does the job but it doesn’t produce very vivid colors.
The TimelineX AS4820T features stereo speakers with third-generation Dolby Home Theater audio and 5.1-Channel output. The speakers themselves are moderately powerful and are able to play back relatively crisp audio, albeit without much bass or punch. The music cant get very loud on them, but they are strong enough to fill a small quiet room – just not very loudly. In general, to take advantage of the Dolby Home Theater technology inside you’ll want to connect headphones or external speakers.
The laptop earned a Windows Experience base Score of 4.6. In 3DMark06, the system garnered a healthy score of 1930. PCMark05 produced a score of 4697 PCMarks. Software applications generally load up very quickly and are snappy to run. Multitasking is also great on the 4820T, I had several Internet Explorer windows open, along with Microsoft Works, Skype, Windows Media Player with a video player running, calculator, Windows Photo Viewer, Sticky Notes, and eSobi news reader all running at the same time without any lag, plus Kaspersky Internet Security 2011 (which I installed independently) was also running in the background.
Overall, performance is excellent on the system, but is no doubt hampered somewhat by the 5,400RPM hard drive. I feel like no laptop over $600 in price should come with anything less than a 7,200 RPM hard drive nowadays. However, Acer probably opted for a 5,400RPM hard drive because 5,400RPM drives generally consume less power than a 7,200RPM hard drive and this laptop is all about getting the battery life out of it as possible. For those of you with the cash, upgrading to an SSD drive like the Intel X-25M will really make this laptop sing. That said, the included 500GB hard drive is very generous in size and offers enough storage to satisfy most multimedia pack-rats so that they don’t have to schlep along an external hard drive too.
The system comes with a moderate amount of bloatware including Norton Online Backup Trial, a 60 day trial of Microsoft Office, a Netflix trial amongst others. The laptop also comes installed with McAfee Internet Security, Microsoft Works, Acer Backup Manager, eSobi Lite 2.0, and Acer Games.
Keyboard & Trackpad:
The TimelineX 4820T’s flat chicklet style keys are great with just the right amount of tactile feedback and plenty of space between keys for comfortable typing, so the laptop definitely has got one of the better notebook keyboards out there. The Multi-Gesture Touchpad on the other hand also has a good amount of real estate for operating multitouch gestures. The Touchpad also takes full advantage of Windows 7′s abilities and lets you pinch, flick,swirl, as well as scroll, zoom in and out and flip through web pages, photos and documents. Oddly enough, the 4820T sports a single mouse button which is kind of unusual on a PC since it isn’t devised into two buttons, but is just one – Mac style.
Overall, the Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820T is a well designed laptop that doesn’t sacrifice battery life in lieu of performance. It has some flaws – including a mediocre LED display, but for the price you’re getting a capable machine. The Acer Aspire TimelineX AS4820T recently dropped in price from $849 on Amazon to $796.73 and $748 at Walmart. The laptop also comes with a one year International warranty.
The Good: Looks more expensive than it is, great performance and long battery life, reasonably priced
The Bad: No blu-ray option, display should be better, hard drive is just 5,400 RPM
Disclaimer: The Acer TimelineX AS4820T was given to us by Intel for being a participant at the recent Intel Upgrade Your Life Event at Intel’s Headquarters in Oregon. Intel did not ask us to review the laptop or to share our experiences with it with our readers, we chose to do so on our own.