Hands on Use
After all the testing was done I was glad to see no glaring faults with the Acer Aspire TimelineX 1830T-68U118 notebook. I went into this test not expecting any record setting benchmark runs; with a low voltage mobile processor, the notebook is certainly geared towards battery life more than raw performance and it shows in the testing.
The 11.6-inch screen is very glossy and surprisingly good for media use. The thin little ultraportable lacks any optical drive, so streaming is your only option. I streamed some TV from Hulu and the Acer Aspire TimelineX 1830T-68U118 did a very good job. The video was smooth and stutter free and colors were realistic with good blacks and nice contrast. There was a hint of pixilation in fast scenes, but the Acer Aspire TimelineX 1830T-68U118 is surprisingly good for streaming media despite its obvious mobile focus.
The sound system that Acer uses on the Acer Aspire TimelineX 1830T-68U118 leaves me wanting more. I expect the sound to be flat on notebooks today, but the volume was too low for me to hear easily in a room with a TV going and light conversation. If you plan to listen in a large space or from far away, plan to add headphones or speakers right away.
After the bad experience I had recently with the track pad on the Gateway ID49C13u notebook, I am very glad to see Acer has done a good job with the track pad on the Acer Aspire TimelineX 1830T-68U118. The trackpad is very small considering the slight size of the notebook, but it is easy to use, accurate, and the buttons are well placed and easy to work. The trackpad blends in with the palm rest and is separated from the wrist rest with a textured pattern. The track pad tap to click feature also worked flawlessly.
I mentioned the lid of the notebook briefly before. The dry carbon fiber style pattern on the lid in matte black is not only attractive, but it is easy to keep clean. You have to have some dirty fingers to leave anything behind on this machine. I was also very impressed with the keyboard Acer uses on this machine. The keys are huge for such a small notebook. In fact, the keys on this 11.6-inch ultraportable are actually larger than the keys on the Gateway 14-inch notebook I mentioned before.
The keys are well spaced, the right and left shift keys are the same size, and the keyboard has great typing feel. This is the best ultraportable keyboard I have used. Kudos on the design here and Acer made a fantastic decision making the track pad smaller in favor of a larger keyboard. The keys are clicky and have good tactile feel; this is the keyboard other ultraportables should be trying to mimic.
The physical size of the Acer Aspire TimelineX 1830T-68U118 is perfect for the ultraportable space that skirts the line between larger 13 and 14-inch notebooks and the smaller 10-inch netbooks. It's lightweight and thin making it very portable while maintaining the larger screen and fantastic full-size keyboard. There is simply no compromise to be had here between a small screen and the functionality of the keyboard. The machine also has the battery life to let you go all day long on a single charge.
I also wanted to point out the cool power adapter than Acer uses on this machine. It has no fat brick in the middle and is a simple, thin cord from the portion that plugs into the AC outlet back to where it plugs into the notebook. You can even remove the outlet prongs and adjust the part that plugs into the outlet in the best angle for your needs. The downside of not having a fat block in the cable is that the portion of the power cord that plugs into the outlet may block outlets nearby.
At the end of the day, I am very impressed with the Acer Aspire TimelineX 1830T-68U118 notebook. This is one of the few 11.6-inch ultraportable notebooks that have a keyboard larger than some notebooks with as much as three more inches of screen space. That means you can work all day comfortably without wishing you had an external keyboard.
The screen is glossy, which means glare, but the media playback is good. You often get poor media playback with ultraportables since they tend to get weak GPUs at times in an effort to increase battery life. The Acer Aspire TimelineX 1830T-68U118 also has an excellent battery. Wrap all of that in with a price that is under $900 and this may well be the best bang for the buck in the sub $1000 ultraportable space.