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If you've read my Case Logic laptop sleeve review you'll know that I splashed out on a new laptop for my dad's birthday back in May. The laptop I bought was this Acer Aspire Timeline 4810T, and at the time it cost me around the £540 mark; sickeningly, the price has now dropped to around £455 from Amazon and now represents amazing value for money.
I wanted a laptop with quite a high spec for my dad, partially to mark his 60th birthday with a great present, and also so it would date more slowly. As he'd not really touched a computer since the 1970s, I figured that something with a good spec would last him several years as he's not too bothered about having the latest computer.
My dad wanted a fairly small laptop, but after finding it impossible to find any non-Mac around the 11"-13" size with a disc drive (his other stipulation), I ended up going a bit bigger and picking out this 14.1". It has a great spec for the size and price with a healthy 4GB of memory (unlike DooYoo's description above, allowing you to run more/more intensive programs or extend battery life) , a great Radeon HD4330 graphics card with 512MB memory (responsible for video and images) and a battery life of up to eight hours. It also has a 320GB hard drive (lots of file and program space for my dad as he doesn't use much), a built-in webcam and a 5 in 1 card reader (for reading memory cards). It comes with Windows 7, trials of both McAfee and Norton (blergh) and a trial of MS Office.
The disadvantages are the processor (1.3GHz, but it is a dual-core Pentium), and lack of Bluetooth (despite the claim in DooYoo's description above) - you will need a dongle as it's not integrated, and that will allow you to transfer files wirelessly from other Bluetooth devices such as mobile phones or other computers. The memory balances the processor speed out to some degree, and I knew that my dad would value the longer than average battery life as he doesn't run many intensive programs, so that was fine.
Does this live up to the claims? Well, the HD graphics card means that films look amazing (despite the lack of Blu-Ray player), and Avatar in particular looks great. The battery life does last up to eight hours, with five or six being typical for my dad as he checks email, watches YouTube videos, plays chess etc.
I did expect the laptop to be black, as that's how it was advertised on Amazon - but in fact it has quite a dark grey lid, which is matte and says 'acer' in silver. The laptop has a great finish, and you can't stop yourself running your hand across the lid. It looks really nice, and my dad was impressed with how slimline it is. The keyboard feels slightly on the cheap side, but then it's one of those new-style ones with raised (but flat-surfaced) individual keys which reduces the travel time between presses. One thing that did confuse me were the lights just above the keyword which signal the wireless being on etc - I completely didn't realise that they could be touched and accidentally switched the wireless Internet off, not realising that I'd done it, and then panicking!! So those keys are touchable and not just notifications, FYI! The disc drive could be better operated as well, as it opens via a smallish button above the keyboard and seems slightly temperamental sometimes; however I think it's something you get used to - I'm used to pushing the disc drive in to open it or pressing a button next to it.
The computer also has 3 USB ports all situated on different areas of the computer so you can access at least one of them no matter how you're holding or placing the laptop, and larger USB devices won't block other ports. The Acer also comes with a 3 pin wall charger and battery as you'd expect.
I honestly think this is a fantastic laptop, and I was tempted to keep it for myself! I was way of buying something so expensive on Amazon, but it comes well-packed in a box and you can track its whereabouts via your account. It runs quickly and quietly and does everything it says on the tin. Windows 7 is another added bonus because it's packed full of features and was very intuitive for my dad to pick up. My dad absolutely loved it, and despite the rest of the family being worried it would be an expensive mistake and he'd never use it, it's actually very difficult to pry him away from it. It's possible to have a conversation with yourself for quite a long time without him realising you've even spoken to him!! He did call me soon after his birthday and said that he was annoyed he had customers coming in because he wanted to go home and use 'Charlie the Second' as he's known (Charlie the First was an electronic chess set).
The only member of the family displeased with this laptop is the dog, because he gets much less attention from my dad now. When my dad is sitting in a chair typing, the dog has been known to stand on his back legs next to the low coffee table and tap his paws like he's typing as well!! More frequently, the dog will tap his paw gently on the back of the laptop whilst my dad's using it to signal to him to put it down so he can jump on his lap!
I'd recommend this laptop to anyone who wants a great portable computer which will last a few years (at the very least). It's not completely perfect in terms of features, but it runs well and Acers are renowned for their great prices but also great quality, so it's a win-win situation and a bargain compared to 99% of the other laptops out there.