Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Acer Timeline Ultra M5

This is the Acer Timeline Ultra M5 and thanks to Acer I get to have a closer look at it and see what it’s like. Not only am I looking at the machine, but I also get to play around with Windows 8.

Let’s first take a look at what this M5 packs under its hood.

Intel® Core™ i7-3517U
6GB DDR3 Memory
500GB Hard Drive
nVidia GT 640M
15.6” LED LCD HD Display
2-in-1 Card Reader
1x USB2 port, 2x USB3 ports
Ethernet Port
HDMI Output

All this packed into a relative light thin and lightweight unit. The casing of the laptop is made out of plastic so a lot of the light weight does factor from that. It is classified as an Ultrabook although at 15.6” screen size it feels a little too big to called one. I prefer to see it as a ultraportable laptop than an Ultrabook.
Looking at the unit with the lid closed we see a pretty slick looking laptop. You’ll find the card reader and the DVD drive on either side of the unit with all the ports on the back which is one of the downsides of the unit. It is pretty unpractical to reach behind the laptop to plug in USB devices. It also concerns me to see them at the back considering the fan exhausts are located at the rear and all of the hot air gets pushed out next to the USB ports. What I would like to have seen is the DVD drive be gone with and the full array of ports to replace it. DVD drives are becoming less and less used these days with almost every bit of content available for digital purchasing and downloading.

Opening the lid reveals more of the simple elegance that makes this laptop stand out. It is all the same material inside and out, it doesn’t have a dozen stickers on the wrist rest area that makes it look like a children’s book and it has one of the best looking backlit illuminations I’ve seen since the Macbook Pro’s. The display area is fantastic as it has a black border behind the actual glass area and around the physical display. This is an underrated feature as a solid black or white colour around displays is proven to improve the contrast of the screen from its surroundings, making anything you watch or do appear that little bit extra visually compelling. 

Performance of the laptop was equally impressive. Booting up the unit came in at around 6-7 seconds thanks to the 20GB Cache SSD that acts like your standard memory but instead caches the important files that help it boot up and awake from sleep almost instantly. The keyboard is great to type on and feels very soft and quiet. The track pad although is one of the better ones I’ve used is pretty large and leaves no room for your wrist to rest on.

I ran a few benchmarking tests to see how the i7 and GT 640M are going to be perform and it did remarkably well.

Score 703
Avg. FPS: 27.9



Pretty decent scores to say the least and with gaming benchmark scores like that is can easily be said that this laptop can used by a moderate and casual gamer. However be careful with temps as the plastic casing has terrible heat dissipation properties and the base of the unit can get hot. A laptop like this coupled with a decent laptop cooler (Thermaltake Massive23) would be a match made in heaven.

If you’re a non-gamer, don’t stress as this laptop has plenty of juice for the office worker and business professional. With a decent battery lasting well above standard laptops, portability and performance capabilities of this laptop make it a great option for on-the-go business. The full sized 15.6” display with sharp and crisp colours means you can present all your work on something other than some of those smaller laptops with screens less than 14 inches.

That’s the laptop, now I want to quickly go over Windows 8 for a bit. In the office here it was a bit of a mixed reaction. It was either you didn’t like it at all, or you didn’t mind it at all. For me it was the first. I felt the whole replacement of the Start menu was completely unnecessary. The Start menu is now a bunch of tiles of your favourite apps. What ticked me off the most was the requirement to sign up to a Microsoft account to use things like the Calender! I’m sorry but that it is completely bonkers and beyond stupid. It takes an extra step or two to do basic things and the overall feel of it is no longer like using Windows. If users struggled to learn Windows 7 and earlier operating systems, they are going to loath Windows 8. It seems like Microsoft changed everything just because they had no other plan or idea on what to do with the Windows operating system. It also looks a bit lazy to see that they have created one operating system to work on multiple platforms like Mobile and tablets. Windows 8 just did not cut it for me and I will definitely not be making the switch to it.

The laptop on the other hand is fantastic! Its fast, its slick, its portable and it looks good doing it! Acer really has surprised me with this one and it is good to see! More information will be released as soon as it is ready for public release. So if you’re looking for a laptop upgrade, you may want to wait for this release.


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