Acer Aspire Timeline AS1810TZ-413G25N
11.6 in 1,366x768 display, 1.4kg, 1.3GHz Intel Pentium Dual Core SU4100, 3.00GB RAM, 250GB disk, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Acer's Aspire Timeline 1810TZ is one of the cheapest ultraportables we've seen and you'd therefore be forgiven for thinking that it wouldn't be as good as its more expensive competition, but this certainly isn't the case.
The keyboard has large, responsive keys, so typing is comfortable and doesn't require a lot of force. A couple of punctuation keys and the left shift key are narrower than the rest, but this is easy to get used to. The touchpad is annoyingly small though, which makes using the multitouch gestures tricky, and the buttons are a bit stiff.
Weighing just 1.4kg, the Aspire is light enough to carry around all day. Bear in mind that it doesn't have an optical drive, though. The base feels fairly sturdy, although the lid flexes under pressure more than we'd like. Thankfully, the underside didn't become unbearably hot, even when churning through our demanding applications benchmarks, so it's comfortable to use on your lap.
The Aspire is equipped with 3GB of RAM and an Intel Pentium Dual Core SU4100 processor. It fared reasonably well in our benchmarks with an overall score of 39, which is sufficient for browsing and office work. The 250GB hard disk is a little small by today's standards, but unless you need to carry tonnes of video with you, it's more than enough. More importantly, its battery lasted over nine hours in our light-use test.
Although the 11.6in widescreen display is by no means dim, it isn't nearly as bright as other displays we've seen on ultraportables. Also, viewing angles aren't very wide so colour accuracy suffers unless you're sitting directly in front of it. It's good enough for office work and web browsing though and the screen tilts back a long way, so it's comfortable to use when perched on your lap.
If you don't need to run any demanding tasks - and can live with Windows XP - you may be better off with Acer's Aspire One 751 netbook. This costs around £250 now, yet has the same screen, decent battery life at over six hours and isn't much slower in our benchmarks. However, if you'd prefer Windows 7, faster networking, longer battery life and a modicum of extra power, the Timeline is still a good choice.