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Acer Aspire Timeline 5810T offers 9-hour battery

LaptopTwo contrasting notebooks are currently attracting attention, but only one of them marks a landmark in laptop design.

In the interests of topicality, we won't dwell too much on HP's tiny dv2 laptop, which was announced back in January. We'll simply nudge your memory by mentioning that this 12in portable runs the low-power AMD Athlon Neo 64 processor and sits in the nebulous area between dawdling netbook and dashing notebook.

Why the interest now? Well, we've finally got a sample - only now we hear that the embarrassing 2-hr battery life is a result of using, and we paraphrase, the wrong Bios, the wrong battery, the wrong graphics solution and even the wrong operating system.

Rather than slate this half-baked product - and that litany of excuses - we'll save the final review of the improved HP dv2 for next month. Instead, let's focus on the good news: it's now possible to have a fully featured laptop of passable aesthetics and reasonable price that's capable of running for more than 9 hrs away from mains power.

And, contrary to what we hear from AMD's marketing, we believe that laptop users do actually want a usefully long uptime away from the oxygen of a battery charger. For many Windows laptops, the expectation has long been that you'll be lucky to get more than a couple of hours' life from a battery - so keep that mains lead on standby for your laptop's next power fix.

Integrating the battery into the bodywork is one way to maximise the limited internal space for batteries, as Asus has replicated with its shrunken MacBook Air wannabe, the Seashell. We measured more than 5 hrs from this lightweight netbook. But the real endurance prize goes to Acer's aptly named Timeline laptop, the 5810T.

Thanks to an Intel consumer ultra-low voltage (CULV) processor, a healthy-sized but discreetly mounted (removeable) battery, and other onboard power-saving measures, this 15in-screen model lasted a stunning 553 mins.

Imagine being able to pack your laptop for work in the morning, crunch spreadsheets, read mail, run a presentation and come home with battery to spare. And that 1.4GHz dual-core processor, DDR3 RAM and 3MB cache hints that this longevity doesn't come at the expense of performance either. Mark my words: some day, all laptops will run at least this long between charges.

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