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By Thomas McKinnon 8 October 2009

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Acer is making a big statement about their technology edge with the type and number of features they’re packing into their high-end business notebooks. Their new Timeline series of Travelmate notebooks grabbed our attention a while back with features like a low-voltage processor, Laminar Wall Jet technology, a magnesium alloy chassis and multi-gesture functionality for its trackpad.

The 14" Travelmate Timeline 8471, in particular, caught our attention with its reasonably sized, bright display, truly amazing battery life claims and slight profile. A quick glance at the Timeline 8471 spec sheet will tell you that it’s no slouch in the processing department and you need only hold it once to know that it’s not going to hamper you mobility.

The feel

The Timeline 8471 sports a uniform black magnesium alloy chassis which simultaneously makes it durable and light. The notebook weight just 1.93 kg and is seriously thin at a minimum of 25.9 mm and maximum of 29.6 mm thick. It just looks and feels like a top quality product.

The device also features Intel’s Laminar Wall Jet technology which redirects cooling air along the bottom of the notebook. This not only allows for more efficient use of battery power but also ensure that its case remains cool. We were surprised at just how cool the Timeline 8471 remained even after hours of use resting on a lap.

Beyond the Laminar Wall Jet technology the Timeline 8471 utilises an Intel Core 2 Duo Su7300 1.3 GHz low-voltage processor. The use of CULV (consumer ultra-low voltage) processors and long-lasting batteries was a definite trend this year, and the driving force behind the growth of the thin-and-light laptop market.

With Acer’s claim of eight hours of normal use battery life, from their 62.16 W 5600 mAh 6-cell Li-ion battery, they’ve clearly followed the trend. While we didn’t get a full eight hours of normal use out of the device we did get in the region of five hours including activities like web browsing, email, document viewing and creation, etc.

A thin-and-light trend Acer did buck, however, was the exclusion of an optical drive. While most manufactures view optical drives as dispensable in smaller form notebooks, Acer have included an 8X DVD-Super Multi double-layer drive in their Timeline 8471. The inclusion of the drive is a master stroke as the device sets itself apart as a thin-and-light PC notebook.

Multi-gesture trackpad

The inclusion of multi-touch functionality on the device’s trackpad is another interesting move by Acer. You can now scroll up and down web pages, documents or playlists by performing a circular finger swirl on the trackpad. A pinch gesture lets you zoom in and out of the applications. While swiping two fingers horizontally lets you flick through photos, web pages, documents or media albums. This kind of functionality is best exemplified by the MacBook, and while we enjoyed the feature on the Timeline 8471 it just lacked the polish in implementation the MacBook enjoys. The trackpad could really have been a little bigger, especially in terms of height, which would have made it a far more enjoyable experience.

On the more conventional side the Acer Timeline 8471 offers up to 3 GB of RAM, a maximum of 250 GB of hard drive space and an Intel GMA 4500MHD graphics accelerator. Other than its fairly standard graphics accelerator this is quite impressive and means that the notebook can handle its fair share of resource intensive applications.

Issues

While there isn’t a whole lot to complain about on the Timeline 8471 we were a little perturbed by the dearth of USB ports. While three seems to be the standard on a thin-and-light notebook it’s a little miserly on a notebook that offers so much in every other department. We’ll concede however that the lack of USB ports is a fair trade for the inclusion of the optical drive.

The other thing that caused us to collectively scratch our heads was the slightly odd layout of the keyboard. While the keys are large and well spaced, Acer opted for the addition of independent $ and € keys, but no independent volume keys which would have been far more practical.

Conclusion

The Travelmate Timeline 8471 is a great thin-and-light notebook. Its battery life is outstanding considering you get a reasonably powerful machine that is still portable. At around R12 999 you have to be willing to pay for all its high-end goodness though.

PROS
The Timeline 8471 is a highend business device built for mobility.
CONS
The multigesture trackpad needed to be bigger.
USER COMMENTS

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