It's certainly a tough little cookie in its dark metal finish. But there are plenty of other reasons why the Acer TravelMate 8481T is a laptop well-suited to life on the road.

It's very comfortable to use. The keyboard has large, well-spaced keys and the Return, Backspace and right Shift keys, not to mention the Spacebar, are all huge. The result is a very decent typing experience, even when you're using the Acer TravelMate 8481T to work on very long documents.

Battery life is incredibly long - we saw the Acer TravelMate 8481T last for a very welcome 11 hours (661 mins) in the MobileMark 2007 tests. This is achieved by not just the low-power processor but a huge 8-cell lithium-ion battery that clips to the underside.

Because of the battery's unusual shape, it props the Acer TravelMate 8481T up to make it slightly tilted towards you, making it feel more like you are typing on a traditional keyboard rather than a completely level laptop top. See also: Group test: what's the best laptop?

There is a downside to the battery's odd shape, though - if you want to quickly slip it in to your bag or laptop sleeve this battery does seriously jut out, making it bulkier than the Acer TravelMate 8481T's 1.7kg frame with 14in screen suggests.

That 1366x768 display has a smooth, matt finish for excellent readability, although its colours are slightly duller and the definition not as crisp as high-gloss screens. And the screen neatly fills the available space, leaving an attractive thin bezel around the LCD, with a thinner rubber strip to buffer the display when it's folded flat against the laptop body. The overall effect is a restful panel for working on over long periods.

A WorldBench 6 score of 100 isn't that impressive these days, partly explained by the lowly 3GB of DDR3 RAM and absence of dedicated graphics processor. Integrated Intel graphics are slower than usual here, enough only to propel FEAR at an average of 6fps in our standard Max detail FEAR test. But for everyday office tasks the TravelMate will do a fine job.

You can netowrk to the world using the usual 802.11b/g/n wireless standards or gigabit ethernet; and there's a selection of choices for connecting desktop peripherals. USB 3.0, combined eSATA/USB 2.0, VGA and HDMI are all catered for. Note however that Acer has left out any optical drive to keep cost and weight down.
 
A fingerprint reader for extra security has been embedded into the body, discreetly sited between the two touchpad buttons. The pad itself is pleasingly large for a laptop of this size, and has a very slightly textured finish. It helps your fingers find their way in dark conditions or when you don't want to take your eyes off the screen.

Acer TravelMate 8481T: Specs

  • 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-2467M dual core processor
  • 14in (1366 x 768) matt LED-backlit screen
  • Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
  • 3GB DDR3-1066MHz RAM
  • 320GB 7200rpm SATA hard disk
  • built-in Intel HD Graphics 3000
  • 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • gigabit ethernet
  • VGA port
  • HDMI port
  • eSATA/USB 2.0 port
  • 1 x USB 3.0 port
  • 2 x USB 2.0 port
  • SD/xD/MS Pro card reader
  • headphone jack
  • mic input
  • stereo speakers
  • webcam
  • fingerprint reader
  • 86Wh lithium-ion removable battery
  • 329 x 240 x 22mm
  • 1.78kg
  • 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-2467M dual core processor
  • 14in (1366 x 768) matt LED-backlit screen
  • Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
  • 3GB DDR3-1066MHz RAM
  • 320GB 7200rpm SATA hard disk
  • built-in Intel HD Graphics 3000
  • 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • gigabit ethernet
  • VGA port
  • HDMI port
  • eSATA/USB 2.0 port
  • 1 x USB 3.0 port
  • 2 x USB 2.0 port
  • SD/xD/MS Pro card reader
  • headphone jack
  • mic input
  • stereo speakers
  • webcam
  • fingerprint reader
  • 86Wh lithium-ion removable battery
  • 329 x 240 x 22mm
  • 1.78kg

OUR VERDICT

The Acer TravelMate 8481T is a good choice for office work on the move, though our sample was a little less convenient to carry around than other lightweight laptops due to the odd-shaped battery. It's not going to weigh you down too much at 1.7kg and the 11-hour runtime will be a godsend for unplugged productivity. It's not the speediest laptop around but neither is it undesirably slow; and the good screen is perfect for use in a variety of lighting conditions. You'd be pushed to find a better business-focused model with this specification for this price.

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