Acer TravelMate 4150LMi
Dell Latitude D610
LG LW60 Express
MSI Megabook S260
MSI Megabook S270
Samsung M40 plus
Toshiba Tecra M3
How we tested
CPU -- Intel
The Acer sports a conservative and clean design. It has a standard 4:3 aspect ratio 15in display which results in a more traditional notebook footprint than the widescreen units, although at 2.86kg the Acer is just as heavy as larger units. The notebook chassis is robust and stiffer than some widescreen notebooks, and the display surround is also quite strong -- it takes quite an impact to unsettle the display.
The display's native resolution is just 1024 x 768, so given its size the screen fonts are quite large and easy to read. Graphics oomph is provided by Intel's 915GM chipset, which sadly in 3D terms does not cut the mustard when compared to the ATI and Gforce implementations in some other notebooks. 3D performance was quite low, almost half the average, but is buoyed up by the more exuberant graphics processors.
The keyboard is not the smallest you will find but it is not far from it. The alphanumeric keys and the space bar are certainly adequate in size but cursor keys, and in particular the top row of function keys, are quite small. Acer has also imparted a slight curve into the keyboard. There is a neat row of user-definable keys above the keyboard -- assigning the keys to your own functions is simple using Acer's eManager.
WLAN support includes 802.11B and G, the LAN support excludes gigabit and the fastest speed support is 100Mb. A neat feature is the ability to enable and disable Bluetooth and the WLAN using two backlit buttons at the front of the palm rest.
The Acer goes one better than most notebooks with four USB2 ports (rather than three), there is also a Firewire port, and for the digital camera user a 6-in-1 card reader that can cope with most card types including Memory Stick, SD, and xD. The Acer also has a Dual layer DVD +/- and CD-RW combo.
Audio quality is very good with a strong volume level from the pair of front-mounted speakers but not as good as the HP or Samsung which had richer bass quality.
Acer supplied a typical (for this review) memory configuration of 512MB DDR2 that can be expanded to 2GB, presumably by tossing away the 512MB module supplied in one of the two slots and fitting a pair of 1GB modules.
The Acer and the Megabook s260, had the lowest-clocked CPUs at 1.6GHz, and we found the Acer's "raw" CPU scores were the lowest of all the Intel-based notebooks tested. Raw hard drive performance was also low but the Acer still managed average scores in content creation applications tests and above-average performance in business application benchmarks. Acer's battery life claim of five hours was conservative as we got an impressive five hours and 51 minutes -- over an hour longer than its nearest competitor.
Temperatures generated by the Acer were higher than average with an "exhaust" temperature of 36°C and a heat spot under the base of the notebook that hit 38.5°C.