Not as light as more expensive ultra-portables, but twice as powerful as cheaper netbooks, its incredible battery life put this laptop in a class of its own.
13.3 in 1,366×768 display, 1.7kg, 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SU9400, 4.00GB RAM, 320GB disk, Windows Vista Home Premium
Acer’s 3810T is a 13.3in laptop that weighs 1.7kg.
We’d expect something this small and light to cost much more. It uses an ultra-low-voltage SU9400 processor, which has dual processor cores but isn’t very quick, running at only 1.4GHz. However, it helps the 3810T achieve an amazing battery life of over 10 hours.
Performance is less than half that of our reference system, but it’s more than capable of handling office and internet tasks. Image and video editing will be slower, though, and 3D gaming is out: the integrated Intel graphics chipset can’t handle heavy work, as the benchmark score of 3.7fps in Call of Duty 4 shows.
It will handle HD video, though, and the 16:9 widescreen is great for watching movies. The 13.3in screen has the same 1,366×768 resolution as most 15.6in laptops. Colours are accurate, and the glossy finish on the screen improves contrast, but there’s a blue cast to whites. You’ll need external speakers to watch movies or play music, as the internal speakers are tinny and weak.
It has a decent set of expansion ports: three USB ports, network and VGA ports, and headphone and microphone sockets. There’s also a memory card reader, and the headphone port handles S/PDIF audio output. You get a huge 320GB hard disk, which is very generous for a laptop of this size and price, and enough to warrant using the 3810T as your main computer. However, it lacks a built-in optical drive, unlike more expensive ultra-portable laptops, so you can’t watch DVDs on the go. You’ll need an external drive for around £40 to burn backups and install software from discs.
The large keyboard has flat, separated keys. They aren’t quite as large as a standard desktop keyboard’s, but the light action makes touch-typing comfortable. The only niggle is that the glossy finish makes them a bit slippery. The touchpad is small but responsive, and the buttons have very little travel, but a nice action.
There are few laptops that compete at this size and weight category. MSI’s X340 will appeal to the more style-conscious with its clamshell design and glossy black finish. However, its four-hour battery life and single-core processor make it a poor choice for day-to-day mobile computing when compared to the 3810T. The only laptops to compete on battery life are cheaper netbooks, but these have smaller screens, less powerful processors and run Windows XP rather than Vista.
At 1.7kg, the 3810T is by no means the lightest ultra-portable we’ve seen, but anything equally specified and lighter will cost you a lot more. The 3810T, then, strikes a brilliant balance between battery life, weight and price, with the only compromise being its lack of a built-in DVD drive. Factor in its amazing battery life, too, and the 3810T is more than worthy of our Best Buy award.
|Intel Core 2 Duo SU9400
|Processor clock speed
|Memory slots free
|Realtek High Definition Audio
|Power consumption standby
|Power consumption idle
|Power consumption active
|Intel GMA 4500M HD
|Total storage capacity
|Optical drive model
|Optical drive type
Ports and Expansion
|Wired network ports
|Wireless networking support
|PC Card slots
|Supported memory cards
|SD, MMC, Memory Stick Pro, xD
|minijack audio output/S/PDIF (shared), minijack microphone input
|Windows Vista Home Premium
|Cyberlink PowerDVD 7, Microsoft Works 9
|one year collect and return