This titchy laptop gives you plenty of power for not much money, easily making up for slightly below-par battery life
The Acer Travelmate B113 is a small, business-like and not particularly attractive ultraportable laptop that’s surprisingly powerful for its price and size. It looks like a slightly old-fashioned netbook, but is equipped with a full Intel Core i3 processor, rather than an atom. This edition of the B113, still popular and widely available, has been out for a while, so it’s got an Ivy Bridge processor rather than one of the latest Haswell chips, but is still a very capable computer.
The B113’s dual-core Intel Core i3-3227U scored 34 overall in our application benchmarks, putting this version of the laptop safely ahead of the netbooks it resembles. With 4GB of RAM, you might find that it will struggle with memory intensive tasks such as editing large images. For regular desktop tasks, such as web browsing and document editing, the laptop was quick and responsive.
The main downside of Ivy Bridge processors is that they’re more power-hungry than Intel’s newer Haswell CPUs. The battery lasted just five hours and 31 minutes, which could be an issue if you need to use it away from the mains a lot. Given that the laptop weights just 1.4kg it’s more than likely that you will use on battery a lot. One option is to carry a spare battery with you if you need more life, as the design makes it easy to swap them out.
We tested the gaming power by running Dirt Showdown at high quality, 4x AA and a resolution of 1,280×720. Although the B113 is not smooth enough to game with, the on-chip Intel HD Graphics 4000 GPU managed a frame rate of 16.9fps. Dropping the quality to ultra low gave us a much smoother 38.6fps, with a minimum of 29.5fps. Less demanding games and web-based titles will be fine on this latop. There are both VGA and HDMI outputs, so if you don’t want to be restricted to using the laptop’s 11.6in screen, you can easily connect an external display device.
We were happy with the B113’s matt display, but it’s not without flaws. Its viewing angles are poor, but you can tilt the screen a lot to view it head-on to get the best image. Of course, with the matt finish, the screen is easier to view under bright lighting than a glossy model.
Although it’s comfortable to use on the desktop, the screens’ quality isn’t anything to write home about it. We measured a mediocre contrast ratio of 318:1 and poor black levels of 0.65cd/m2. Colour reproduction is also weak, with our calibration device measuring the screen as only able to display 54.8 per cent of the sRGB colour gamut. If accurate colour reproduction is important, this isn’t the laptop for you. While many laptops of this size and type now have touchscreens, they’re often of limited use, so we have no qualms about this standard display.
We were pleased with the laptop’s keyboard. Although it appears to be a very generic, shallow Chiclet style affair, there’s a little more travel that you’ll find from the keyboards of many similarly sized laptops. It’s a little cramped, due to the small size of the case, and the cursor keys at the far right are far too small for easy use, but we managed to type accurately. The touchpad is small, so we appreciated the increase in usable surface area provided by building the buttons into the pad. It works most of the time, although the size of the touchpad can make it hard to hit a button accurately, depending on where your hand is resting.
The B113 has a good range of ports. There’s a single USB3 port, which is good for fast external storage, and two USB2 ports, which you can use for other peripherals. We were pleased to find a Gigabit Ethernet port, along with the laptop’s integrated 802.11n Wi-Fi adaptor. Finally, there’s a 3.5mm headset port, which you’re likely to get a fair bit of use from, because the laptop’s speakers are tinny and underpowered. They’re also positioned at the base of the ultraportable, so what sound there is, is mostly directed at the surface its sat on.
The Travelmate B113 isn’t a particularly eye-catching laptop, but it’s a well-made lightweight portable that does what it needs to. Although its battery life and colour reproduction aren’t the best, this laptop is incredibly good value, especially considering how powerful it is. It wins a Budget Buy award.
|Processor||Intel Core i3-3227U|
|Processor clock speed||1.9GHz|
|Memory slots free||1|
|Sound||Realtek HD Audio|
|Viewable size||11.6 in|
|Graphics Processor||Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|Graphics/video ports||HDMI, VGA|
|Total storage capacity||320GB|
|Optical drive type||none|
Ports and Expansion
|Wired network ports||1x 10/100/1000|
|Wireless networking support||802.11n|
|PC Card slots||none|
|Supported memory cards||SDXC|
|Other ports||3.5mm headset port|
|Operating system||Windows 8.1|
|Operating system restore option||restore partition|
|Software included||McAfee Internet Security|
|Warranty||one year RTB|