It’s hard to cater to everyone’s needs at times. A notebook should be light, have a long-lasting battery, have enough CPU power, be firm, and keep an accessible price at all that. Acer’s TravelMate series has reached for this goal several times in the past, and the latest one is done via TravelMate 8481G, the “beta” version of which we were able to get hold of, after its appearance at this year’s Computex.
This notebook leaves a positive impression from the very first contact. Its lid may be glossy, but Acer’s unknown magic prevents fingerprints from remaining on it as much as you’d expect. A good bit of this effect can be attributed to the barely noticeable, but very effective nevertheless, texture, which looks as if it had been placed under the surface of the lid. The metal plate with Acer’s logo leaves little doubt as to whether this is truly an elite product. There’s plenty to see at the bottom as well - a large number of cooling slots, all with dust filters. As this is supposed to be an ultraportable model, it shouldn’t come across as too surprising that no optical device is present, but the appearance of USB 3.0, HDMI and eSATA is more than enough to make us happy. The sides are dominated by two large exhaust slots, while the rest of the connectors remain standard. Moving the lock unlocks the lid, which hides an elegantly designed interior underneath. The very thin casing is made of magnesium, in order to increase robustness and decrease weight, which we can only salute, although we would’ve preferred if the lid were made in the same fashion.
At first sight, the display seems stunning due to the very thin frame around it (5 mm), but starting the PC will reveal that the display itself doesn’t stretch across the entire surface. This might change before the final version hits the market, but even if not, this display is expected from 14” models rather than 13.3” ones, with a resolution of 1366x768. The display is very bright and has a matte cover, which makes it very usable even under direct sunlight; in a word, LG’s new Shuriken panel is looking great. The keyboard is excellent, leaves a very good impression under the fingertips, and there’s plenty of space between the keys. The surface surrounding the keyboard is matted as well, with some very discreet glitter, and highly resistant to fingerprints. Below the keyboard, one can see the very large and precise touchpad, with the capability of both horizontal and vertical scrolling. The “mouse” buttons of the touchpad house a fingerprint reader in between, further underlining the business orientation of this model.
It’s not all about the looks, and the pretty powerful hardware inside this PC is there to confirm this. The model that we got for testing purposes had a second-gen Core i5 CPU, but models with i7 CPUs will be available as well. Acer’s engineers seem to have been thinking about everything, and decided to put in an extra graphics card in form of NVIDIA’s GT520M, therefore removing any limits imposed by the integrated graphics. The Optimus technology is present, of course, effectively turning on this discreet graphics card only when needed, thus reducing power consumption and increasing autonomy. The rest of the hardware isn’t bad at all either, with 4 GB of DDR3 RAM, a fast 320 GB HDD working at 7200 RPM (SSD-based models will be available as well), and the entirety of this notebook’s hardware platform is rounded up by Windows 7 Home Premium as the operating system.
Acer’s TravelMate8481G has left an excellent impression on us thus far, and we’ll make sure to provide you with detailed description, tests and battery life impressions as soon as the final version of the product reaches us. They definitely need to keep the current production quality, good battery life and a price as low as possible. As long as these conditions are met, it’s firmly set on the path to an award from us.