Thursday, April 29, 2010

Acer Aspire 4810TZ-4011 Timeline 14.0-Inch Laptop

Favorable Review:

I have been using the Acer Timeline (14 inch, Aspire 4810TZ-4011) since yesterday evening and so far so good. Here are my first impressions:

1. The delivery was quick and packaging was good.
2. The looks of the laptop are fantastic. Love the isolation-type keyboard. The screen hinges could have been more solid but for a lightweight machine appear ok.
3. The eject button for the CD, various ports, the card reader, are all very suitably positioned.
4. The colours of the screen are beautiful. There are setup options to adjust those to taste, but I did not need to use them.
5. The laptop was easy to set up. I loaded the battery for about an hour before starting, perhaps an overkill, and was rewarded with a blue light coming from beneath the touchpad.
6. Setting up Vista for the first time was much quicker than my last XP setup on a netbook. Feels natural so far.
7. Soon after startup I was prompted to create recovery disks, and made two DVDs with the system and one with software.
8. There is (was) a lot of preloaded software. I spent a good deal of time finding out what it does (on Google) and cleaning most of it up.
9. People who have complained from performance issues maybe should take care to remove the redundant backup software (two or three of those pre-installed?!), the trial antivirus and other FUD nonsense.
10. I registerted for a FREE copy of Windows 7 for Timeline owners, to be shipped in October (woot!).
11. Set up Skype (after combating for a while with the firewall settings of Vista), and made a call -- the sound is good, the mic is well positioned, the camera works fine, even better after peeling off the protective plastic sheet :)
12. Tested a youtube video in HD and it did not play smooth, which was a disappointment.

Comparing this to my 4y old FS, the Acer Timeline feels about as solid, a lot more silent, cooler, lighter by more than 2 pounds, with 6 times the RAM, 4 times the battery time, and a newer processor -- clearly an upgrade in every aspect.  

Critical Review:

This review relates more to the AS4810T-8480, but as it is not sold on Amazon yet, I wanted to make sure everyone is aware of the problems I am experiencing on that model, as this might impact the entire product line.

I received my new laptop 4 days ago. Overall it is great, and I'd love to post a positive review here. It looks great from the outside, the 6-8 hours of battery life is a reality (let's see how long it lasts before the battery worns out), keyboard is nice, etc... Also agree that the built quality is not perfect, but overall it is fine.

My major concern, is the overall system stability. I am not a heavy user, mostly internet surfing.

However, in the past 4 days, I have experienced a tremendous number of crashes, maybe 2 to 3 a day, just using normal programs such as Skype, Internet Explorer 8 and MSN Live Messenger... At somepoint, the CPU goes to 100% utilization and the system becomes very slow or totally unresponsive, so I need to do a forced shut down. I thought this was due to Internet Explorer, but experienced the same with Firefox yesterday...

I just tried to install a USB AT&T 3G key, and despite a successful installation, now I am unable to log into Windows because on the log on screen my cursor and keyboards are none responsive. I have just logged a ticket with their Support Team, let's see what they come up.

I have never had some many problems with a new laptop in the past and am considering returning it for a refund.

Again, I would really like to love this laptop, I think ACER has a great product here, BUT I cannot recommended it at this point, and hope I will be able to update my recommendation very soon.

UPDATE: just over one month after receiving the laptop and as I was about to return it after ACER's customer service proved unable to provide a solution, I updated the Intel VGA driver (as many of you suggested in your comments, thanks a lot - my bad for not checking them out earlier!) and the BIOS, both being recommended on [..] and I am happy to confirm the issues have disappeared. The laptop is now fully functional, so I have decided to keep it.
In regards to other features of the computer, I would say that my main complaints are the lack of a hardware switch for the wireless, and the screen is a little too glossy for me. The speakers are a bit weak. Bluetooth could have been included but I knew about it so can't complain.

But overall I'm still happy with the Timeline, and would recommend it to anyone traveling a lot and not requiring high CPU power! 


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