Acer released the Timeline series last year to critical acclaim, but while the range boasted excellent portability, performance was slightly lacking. The new TimelineX range rectifies this and, despite a few usability issues, the Acer Aspire 4820T simply has it all.

The latest in cutting-edge technology is present, with an Intel Core i5 processor joined by 4096MB of DDR3 memory. Performance is stunning and you'll be able to run the most resource-intensive applications and programs with ease.

Our review unit featured an ATi Mobility Radeon HD 5650 graphics card, providing the level of graphical performance we'd expect from a gaming laptop. However, retail units will feature a lower-powered 5470 chip, producing roughly half the power of the aforementioned. You'll still be able to edit photos and HD movies, but the latest games won't run quite so smoothly.

Slim chassis

This level of power is particularly impressive considering the size of the laptop. At only 31mm thick, it's easy to slip into a bag and the machine also weighs just 2.1kg – meaning it only narrowly misses out on ultraportable status.

Despite the use of powerful components, an excellent 428-minutes of battery life are on offer between charges, meaning true all-day usability.

Acer has achieved this using low-powered components, such as LED backlighting for the panel and a hard drive that allegedly uses 40 per cent less power than standard drives. At 500GB, storage is nevertheless still highly capable of containing all your files and folders.

The 14-inch screen has a 1366 x 768-pixel resolution and is sharp and bright. It features a very reflective Super-TFT screen coating, however, making it a little irritating to use in bright conditions.

A brushed aluminium design is used on the lid to great effect, with silver plastics adding to the effect on the inside.

The keyboard is one of the laptop's very few weaknesses. It's poorly mounted into the chassis and this means it's fairly spongy and very noisy to use. The typing action is comfortable enough, however, and doesn't take too long to get used to.

Elsewhere, 802.11n Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet allow fast networking, while a Dolby Home Theatre system simulates 5.1 surround sound through your headphones. Three USB ports and an HDMI-out – for connecting to an external monitor or TV – round out the strong specification.

We're extremely impressed by the Aspire 4820T. There's a serious amount of power on offer in a very small package, making it ideal for everyone from the casual user to design professionals. It's a shame about the keyboard but, ultimately, it doesn't spoil the party.

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