The Acer Aspire Timeline 5810T offers an uncanny balance of performance, price and long battery life, in a relatively thin and light package

Long battery life is the oft-touted but rarely fulfilled specification for many a laptop. But now Acer has delivered on the promise with the Acer Aspire Timeline 5810T, a thin and lightweight but usefully powerfully 15in notebook.

The Acer Aspire Timeline 5810T is slightly wider than 15in in fact, as it uses a new-style widescreen display that measures up at 15.6in in its 16:9 ratio. This glossy panel is bright and cheerful enough, colourful without being as oversaturated as some panels we see.

The Acer Aspire Timeline 5810T chassis is finished in a dark metallic grey, a plastic construct but nevertheless a sturdy feeling one - and all helping the 5810T to keep the weight down to around 2.3kg.

Laptops news and reviews

Despite packing a six-cell battery into the Acer Aspire Timeline 5810T to aid long life, this is not an unsightly afterthought hanging off the back, but neatly integrated within the footprint of the case. In our MobileMark 2007 Productivity battery test, the Acer Aspire Timeline 5810T lasted a long 9 hours 13 minutes (553 mins).

The generous power pack is only part of the story though, as Acer has armed the Acer Aspire Timeline 5810T with a low-voltage CPU in the form of the Intel SU9400. This is the same 1.4GHz dual-core processor found in costly ultraportables such as the Dell Adamo and Samsung X360.

In running gear, this Acer Aspire Timeline 5810T can notch up several facilities you wouldn't necessarily find together on an executive thin 'n' light design - notably an integral DVD±RW Dual-Layer optical drive able to burn to dual-layer discs, plus a multi-format card reader, four USB ports and gigabit ethernet. There's even two video output ports, HDMI and VGA.

Our Acer Aspire Timeline 5810T sample came fitted with 4GB of fast DDR3 RAM and a 500GB hard drive; although we couldn't find anyone in the UK selling this notebook with anything larger than 320GB. You could fit a larger drive yourself, of course, and the Hitachi 5K500 we found ready-fitted will set you back around £90 if bought from somewhere like Dabs.

NEXT PAGE: Graphics performance, keyboard and multi-touch too >>

The integrated Intel 4500 graphics chip essentially rules out modern 3D games. We saw just 4 frames per second in the usual FEAR gaming test. But in everyday computing tasks the Acer Aspire Timeline 5810T is no laggard.

A single-core processor version is available for around £599 using the Intel SU3500, but our Acer Aspire Timeline 5810T had twice the beans thanks to that SU9400 Intel Core 2 Duo CPU. In our WorldBench 6 speed test, we saw a score of 71 points, letting it pull ahead of most ultraportables we've seen.

Rather unusual is the offset touchpad, skewed to the left in order that it sits squarely below the qwerty section of the keyboard. (Acer has used the stretched laptop's available width to include a full numeric keypad too.)

Even stranger, though, is the construction of the keys, shiny flat-topped platforms on hidden stilts. In practice, we found the action reasonably easy enough to use, if more clattery than normal, but the high-gloss sheen on the metal keys makes them a little slippery.

We can't help feeling that Acer was trying just a bit too hard here to be different for different's sake - which is at least a change from playing it safe or copying someone else's ideas.

Laptops news and reviews

Which is what Acer has tried to do, like several others, with its ‘multi-touch' trackpad. Based on the gestures familiar to Apple notebook and iPhone users, you can use pinch movements to zoom or shrink pictures or text, and a three-finger side swipe movement with the fingertips to flick back and forth between web pages. These worked reasonably well in practice, even if Acer's own novel circular scrolling action proved less successful.

The Acer Aspire Timeline 5810T's trackpad had good click buttons - or rather, one hinged bar - although the tap-to-click facility lacked sensitivity and often needed a few dabs before it registered a click.

Other options, though not fitted to our model, are Bluetooth and an internal 3G wireless modem.

NEXT PAGE: Our expert verdict >>

Acer Aspire Timeline 5810T: Specs

  • 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SU9400
  • 800MHz FSB
  • 15.6in (1366x768) 16:9 glossy LCD display
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit
  • 500GB 2.5in 5400rpm SATA HDD
  • 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 RAM
  • Intel 4500MHD integrated graphics
  • HDMI, VGA video out
  • DVD±RW DL optical drive
  • gigabit ethernet
  • 4 x USB 2.0
  • headphone out, mic in
  • stereo speakers
  • built-in mic
  • webcam
  • multi-card reader
  • 802.11b/g/draft-n
  • 8W (idle) power consumption
  • 5600mAh six-cell battery
  • 378x259x25-30mm
  • 2335g
  • 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SU9400
  • 800MHz FSB
  • 15.6in (1366x768) 16:9 glossy LCD display
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit
  • 500GB 2.5in 5400rpm SATA HDD
  • 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 RAM
  • Intel 4500MHD integrated graphics
  • HDMI, VGA video out
  • DVD±RW DL optical drive
  • gigabit ethernet
  • 4 x USB 2.0
  • headphone out, mic in
  • stereo speakers
  • built-in mic
  • webcam
  • multi-card reader
  • 802.11b/g/draft-n
  • 8W (idle) power consumption
  • 5600mAh six-cell battery
  • 378x259x25-30mm
  • 2335g

OUR VERDICT

Acer should be onto a winner with the new Timeline series, if this 15in Aspire 5810T is anything to go by. It’s usefully light, has a great range of practical features such as 802.11n wireless, DVD writer, USB ports aplenty and digital video out. The 15.6in widescreen display belies the notebook’s weight of just 2.3kg, and with a power efficient dual-core processor at its heart, it runs at over twice the speed of the fastest netbook so can actually chew on creative tasks. But best of all is that remarkable battery life figure of over nine hours of real productivity. Finally we have an affordable all-purpose laptop we can carry anywhere – and leave the charger at home for the day.

Find the best price