Saturday, March 10, 2012

Preview: Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M3

The newest Ultrabook on the block is a 15-inch model from Acer--the Aspire Timeline Ultra M3. It may have one of the longest product names we have seen, but with its discrete graphics and an optical drive, it looks like a mainstream laptop in Ultrabook trappings. 
Acer claims that the M3 is the first 15-inch "two-spindle" Ultrabook. In plain English, it just means that this laptop has an optical drive, which is news only because Ultrabooks don't usually have this feature. Although we have previously reviewed Samsung's 14-inch Series 5 Ultra that is equipped with a DVD writer, the M3 is a 15-incher.
Acer even manages to keep the laptop at a thickness of 20mm, which is marginally less than the Samsung. However, it is heavier at around 2.3kg compared with the Samsung's 1.8kg. Also, unlike the aluminum-clad Samsung Series 5 Ultra, the Acer M3 seems to favor plastic in its construction.

The other highlight on this laptop is its discrete graphics. The M3 comes with Nvidia's GeForce GT 640M, which appears to be the company's latest mobile chipset. We haven't managed to test the graphics performance, but given that it boasts 1GB of dedicated video memory, we expect it to be a midrange model that's capable of playing some games. It also supports Nvidia's Optimus graphics switching technology.

The Acer M3 comes with a fairly typical chiclet keyboard, but the extra space on its 15-inch form factor is put to good use--there's a numeric keypad.

As you would expect from a 15-inch laptop, there's no lack of ports on this notebook. Besides an HDMI output, there are also two USB 2.0 and a single USB 3.0 port. You'll get a SD card reader, too. That's more than we could say about some Ultrabooks that we have seen.
Predictably, you won't get an SSD on the M3, at least not with its base configuration. Instead, there's a 500GB hybrid HDD, which is similar to what you'll find on Acer's Aspire S3 Ultrabook. A small amount of flash memory on the HDD ensures that the laptop has the almost-instant resume feature that's standard among Ultrabooks, but booting it up should be significantly slower than a typical SSD-equipped system. The company mentioned that it offers an SSD option, though it hasn't revealed the additional cost involved.
When the new Apple iPad boasts a resolution of 2,048 x 1,536 on a 10.1-inch display, having a 1,366 x 768-pixel screen on this 15.6-inch Acer laptop is almost criminal. Yes, bumping up the resolution would raise the price of the notebook, but we believe that consumers would be willing to pay more for that. Acer should at least offer an upgrade option to a better 1,600 x 900- or 1,920 x 1080-pixel display, just like they do for the SSD. 

An interesting tidbit we noticed is that the Acer M3 specifications list a Mobile Intel HM77 chipset, which appears to be a next-generation, Ivy Bridge-compatible chipset. It's a bit disappointing that the Intel processors have been delayed till June when it seems that the chipset is ready.  
The Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M3 is already on sale in Singapore at S$1,298 (US$1,035). Acer has stated that this laptop will be available worldwide this month, so you should expect it in stores soon. Although we feel that the 1,366 x 768-pixel screen is unacceptable, others may find the competitive price a good enough compromise.

View the original article here

Source From CNET

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