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Acer TravelMate 6463WLMi

  • Editors' rating
    7.3 Very good

Pros

  • Superb high-resolution screen
  • Large, ergonomic keyboard
  • Twin cursor control systems
  • Built-in fingerprint reader
  • Integrated camera
  • Well stocked with ports and connectors
  • Attractive price

Cons

  • Large and heavy
  • Bluetooth is an optional extra

Acer’s TravelMate 6463WLMi is a large notebook — large enough that it's likely to spend more time on your desk than in your luggage. It has plenty of features, including a superb high-resolution screen, a built-in swivelling camera and fingerprint recognition; it also comes at an attractively affordable price.

Design

The TravelMate 6463WLMi is a sizeable notebook. It weighs a maximum of 3.12kg with an 8-cell main battery and a second 6-cell battery in the media bay. You can reduce this depending on your choice of battery and media bay configuration, but only to a minimum of 2.7kg. The system's desktop footprint is 36cm wide by 27.1cm deep. It is 3.55cm high.

One piece of good news: when you do need to carry this notebook, the two sections of the clamshell are held together by a sturdy clip that leaves no possibility of their being prised apart in transit.

Both the screen and the keyboard are superb. The 15.4in. screen has a native resolution of 1,680 by 1,050 pixels, which is easily enough to have two document windows open at the same time. The wide-screen format will be especially attractive for heavy spreadsheet users as there's a whole 33cm of viewing width.

The keyboard has plenty of space to inhabit, and Acer has used this well. The keyboard has Acer’s familiar 5-degree curve, which gives the notebook a characteristic look but doesn't affect its usability in any way — even when carrying out fast touch typing.

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Above the half-height row of function keys is a bank of five buttons. One is the main on/off switch, while the other four can be used to launch applications. They are pre-set to launch Outlook for email, Internet Explorer for web browsing, Acer’s Empowering Technology toolbar (which offers access to a range of system settings and options) and the Launch Manager software (with which you can change the configuration of all four buttons). You can’t change the buttons’ icon markings though: two of these indicate email and the Web, while the other two are marked with a P and an E.

Beneath the keyboard sits a touchpad with a pair of left and right mouse buttons beneath it. Between the mouse buttons is a four-way scroll button that's useful for moving through longer documents, web pages and wide spreadsheets.

Acer provides a second cursor control mechanism in the shape of the green FineTrack button, which nestles between the G H and B keys. This can be used with a second set of mouse buttons (handily picked out with a green stripe) sitting above the touchpad. These auxiliary mouse buttons are divided by the fingerprint scanner.

Because the screen is so wide and has such a high resolution, it takes more than two full sweeps of the touchpad to get all the way from the left to the right edge; as a result, we often found the FineTrack button to be a more effective way of controlling the cursor.

Features

Our review sample of the TravelMate 6463WLMi runs Windows XP Pro, although it carries a sticker proclaiming 'Windows Vista Premium Ready' status. Its processor is an Intel Core 2 Duo T5500 running at 1.66GHz; this is supported by Intel's 945PM chipset and 1GB of DDR2 RAM, upgradeable to a maximum of 4GB.

Graphics are handled by ATI's Mobility Radeon X1300 GPU, which has 128MB of dedicated memory and can dynamically use up to a further 384MB of system memory as required. Your mobile data is entrusted to a shock-protected 80GB SATA hard drive spinning at 5400rpm.

Wireless connectivity comes courtesy of Intel’s PRO/Wireless 3945ABG Wi-Fi adapter and a Fast infrared (FIR) port. Bluetooth is an optional extra and was not installed on our review device. You also get wired networking via a Broadcom NetLink Gigabit Ethernet module.

The front of the casing house the infrared port and slider switches for toggling Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on and off. Both switches were present in our review device even though Bluetooth itself was not installed (you get on-screen ‘Enabled’ and ‘Disabled’ messages when using the wireless LAN toggle and a ‘No Bluetooth Device’ message when using the Bluetooth toggle. The front edge also houses microphone, line-in and headphone/speaker jacks.

The media bay on the right-hand side of the TravelMate 6463WLMi houses a Philips multi-format DVD rewriter; the only other item on this side is a single USB 2.0 port. The left-hand side has two further USB 2.0 connectors placed side by side and quite close together, so you may find it difficult to use both at the same time, depending on the peripheral you're attaching. There's also a FireWire (IEEE 1394) port, an ExpressCard/34 slot, a Type II PC Card slot and a SmartCard slot for system security when used with a smartcard. This busy are is completed by a flash memory card reader that accepts Memory Stick (and MS Pro), MultiMedia Card, SD and xD card media.

At the back, you'll find modem (RJ-11) and Ethernet (RJ-45) connectors, along with the mains power jack, VGA-Out, S-Video and DVI-D connectors and an old-fashioned 9-pin serial port.

Sitting in the lid section above the screen is Acer’s Orbicam, a 1.3-megapixel camera. This can be swivelled through 225 degrees, so it can easily point towards you for videoconferencing or away from you for image capture. The accompanying image capture software includes a face-tracking feature that worked reasonably well during testing. The camera was less impressive with a light source such as a window in the background, but performed fine in more evenly-lit conditions.

The Orbicam software is just one of a number of applications that Acer bundles with this notebook. GridVista, for example, can be used to automatically arrange application windows on-screen for maximum visibility, while the company’s Empowering Technology suite includes a number of settings and system management tools. If a fingerprint scanner is included, such as in our review model, appropriate software for managing fingerprint recognition is also included.

Conclusion

This is a large notebook whose screen and keyboard take full advantage of the space available. It's well stocked with ports and connectors both ancient (serial port) and modern (e.g. DVI-D, SmartCard and others). Placing easily accessible hardware controls for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on the fascia is a sensible move. We are also pleased to see an integrated digital camera: video calling is an increasingly important business application, and it's much easier to be able to undertake a video call without having to carry an external camera.

This isn't a notebook you're likely to be carrying with you and using on your travels a great deal, but if you need to operate under battery power, Acer suggests the 8-cell main battery should provide 3.5 hours of life; adding a second 6-cell battery in the media bay should boost this to 5.5 hours, according to Acer.

The TravelMate 6463WLMi comes with a one-year International Travellers' warranty, which is on the short side for a business system. Telephone support for out-of-warranty products is only available between 9am and 5.30pm on weekdays, and costs 50p per minute. The company's online support could stand some sprucing up; it does offer easy driver and manual downloads plus email support, but lacks such helpful features as forums and real-time chat with a tech-support representative.


Specifications

General
Packaged Quantity 1
Platform Technology Intel Centrino Duo
Embedded Security Trusted Platform Module (TPM 1.2) Security Chip
Operating System Microsoft Windows XP Professional
Processor / Chipset
CPU Intel Core 2 Duo T5500 / 1.66 GHz
Number of Cores Dual-Core
Cache L2 - 2 MB
64-bit Computing Yes
Data Bus Speed 667 MHz
Chipset Type Mobile Intel 945PM Express
Cache Memory
Type L2 cache
Installed Size 2 MB
RAM
Configuration Features 1 x 1 GB
Technology DDR2 SDRAM
Installed Size 1 GB
Storage
Interface Serial ATA-150
Optical Drive DVD±RW (+R DL) / DVD-RAM removable
Type none
Type portable
Memory
Max Supported Size 4 GB
Technology DDR2 SDRAM
Slots Qty 2
Empty Slots 1
Display
Resolution 1280 x 800 (WXGA)
Widescreen Display Yes
Color Support 24-bit (16.7 million colors)
Diagonal Size (metric) 39.1 cm
Display Resolution Abbreviation WXGA
Audio & Video
Graphics Processor ATI Mobility Radeon X1300 - 128 MB GDDR2 SDRAM
Memory Allocation Technology HyperMemory up to 512MB
Max Allocated RAM Size 384 MB
Integrated Webcam Yes
Camera Features 225° rotation
Sound Stereo speakers, microphone
Hard Drive
Spindle Speed 5400 rpm
Type HDD
Capacity 120 GB
Input
Type 4-way scroll button, keyboard, touchpad
Communications
Wireless Protocol 802.11a/b/g, Bluetooth 2.0 EDR
Wireless Controller Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG
Wired Protocol Gigabit Ethernet
Features Acer SignalUp
Optical Storage
Drive Type DVD SuperMulti DL
Type DVD±RW (+R DL) / DVD-RAM
Form Factor removable
Processor
CPU Type Core 2 Duo
Processor Number T5500
Manufacturer Intel
Clock Speed 1.66 GHz
Floppy Drive
Type none
Modem
Features Wake on Ring
Battery
Cells 8-cell
Technology lithium ion
Run Time (Up To) 3.5 sec
Card Reader
Type 5 in 1 card reader
Supported Flash Memory Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, MultiMediaCard, SD Memory Card, xD-Picture Card
AC Adapter
Input AC 120/230 V (50/60 Hz)
Connections & Expansion
Expansion Bays 1 x MediaBay - front accessible
Slots 2 x memory (1 free)
1 x PC Card (1 free)
1 x ExpressCard/34 (1 free)
Interfaces 1 x serial - RS-232 - 9 pin D-Sub (DB-9)
3 x USB 2.0 4 pin USB Type A
1 x infrared IrDA
1 x display / video - VGA - 15 pin HD D-Sub (HD-15)
1 x display / video - S-video output
1 x display / video - DVI-Digital - 24+1 pin digital DVI
1 x IEEE 1394 (FireWire)
1 x modem - phone line - RJ-11
1 x network - Ethernet 10Base-T/100Base-TX/1000Base-T - RJ-45
1 x audio - line-out/headphones - mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm
1 x microphone - input - mini-phone 3.5 mm
1 x audio - line-in - mini-phone 3.5 mm
1 x docking / port replicator 124 pin docking
Memory Card Reader 5 in 1 (SD Card, Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, MultiMediaCard, xD-Picture Card)
Header
Brand Acer
Product Line Acer TravelMate
Model 6463WLMi
Country Kits France
Packaged Quantity 1
Compatibility PC
System
Platform Technology Intel Centrino Duo
Notebook Type notebook
Platform Windows
Hard Drive Capacity 120 GB
Embedded Security Trusted Platform Module (TPM 1.2) Security Chip
Security Devices SmartCard reader, fingerprint reader
Miscellaneous
Security Trusted Platform Module (TPM 1.2) Security Chip, fingerprint reader, SmartCard reader
Features Disk Anti-Shock Protection System (DASP), Smart Card security, administrator password, security lock slot (cable lock sold separately), system password, wake on LAN
Windows Vista Certification Windows Vista Premium Ready
Compliant Standards ACPI 2.0
Networking
Max Transfer Rate 56 Kbps
Data Link Protocol Bluetooth 2.0 EDR, Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g
Remote Management Protocol DMI 2.0
Wireless LAN Supported Yes
Wireless NIC Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG
Monitor
Diagonal Size 15.4 in
Color Support 24-bit (16.7 million colors)
Dimensions & Weight
Width 14.2 in
Depth 10.7 in
Height 1.4 in
Manufacturer Warranty
Service & Support Traveler warranty - 1 year
Type 1 year warranty
Audio Output
Compliant Standards High Definition Audio, Sound Blaster Pro
Mainboard
Data Bus Speed 667 MHz
Chipset Type Mobile Intel 945PM Express
Physical Characteristics
Weight 6.39 lbs
Operating System / Software
OS Provided: Type Microsoft Windows XP Professional
Type Acer Empowering Technology, Acer GridVista, Acer Launch Manager, Acer Protector Suite QL, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Cyberlink PowerDVD, NTI CD-Maker, Norton AntiVirus, PlatinumSecret
Video Output
Graphics Processor ATI Mobility Radeon X1300
Graphics Processor Series ATI Mobility Radeon
Video Memory
Technology GDDR2 SDRAM
Installed Size 128 MB
Memory Allocation Technology HyperMemory up to 512MB
Max Allocated RAM Size 384 MB
Notebook Camera
Integrated Webcam Yes
Camera Features 225° rotation
Expansion Bays
Total Qty 1
Service & Support
Type 1 year warranty
Service & Support Details
Type traveler warranty
Full Contract Period 1 year

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