Acer splits its business between the consumer-focused Aspire range and the TravelMate business machines. The TravelMate 8215WLMi is the top-of-the-line model, as reflected in the price, and comes with a host of cutting-edge components.

Intended as a desktop replacement, its semi-portable 3.1kg weight is largely due to the use of a 15.4-inch panel. It's a standard TFT, but is bright enough for most occasions. That said, there was a slight haze to the screen, so it's impossible to get a genuine white.

Something buyers may be expecting at this price is a finer degree of finish, as the overall feel is one of function rather than luxury. That said, the machine is sturdy. While the keyboard is comfortable to use, there was a degree of rattle and flex to it, which shouldn't be present at this price.

Powered by Intel's latest processor, the Core 2 Duo T7200, this isn't a machine for those simply looking to write emails. Paired with 2048MB of memory, it's intended for high-end use. You can easily edit audio and video without placing too much stress on the system. Rounded out by a 160GB hard drive, which runs at 5400rpm, this is ideal for editing or for use when gaming.

The graphics system is the ATi Mobility Radeon X1600, which is a good mainstream card, and with 512MB of memory on-board can handle most games competently. It's worth bearing in mind, though, it is about to be superceded by the X1700, so it may be worth waiting for this adapter instead.

The keyboard has the now familiar 5- degree curve found on most TravelMates. It matches the position of how a typist places their hands, so is far more ergonomic than a normal keyboard. Sadly, if you've small hands you'll find that some shortcut strokes are made more difficult.

Blu-ray support

Acer, after Toshiba, was the first company to bring out a laptop with an HD DVD optical drive. Now the company has turned its attention to Blu-ray, as the optical drive in this machine is the first from the company to support the technology. So you'll be able to store up to 50GB of information on a single disc, as well as watch Hi-Def movies courtesy of the installed Acer software.

You'll even find a 1.3-megapixel camera and a 5-in-1 card reader fitted as standard. A Bluetooth VoIP phone is included in the box, which slots neatly into the ExpressCard slot, and you'll find a Vista upgrade redemption card included, so you needn't worry about buying a laptop with an OS that is about to become obsolete.

Overall, the Acer TravelMate 8215WLMi is as high-end as you'll currently find in a laptop. Performance proved to be excellent and will certainly stand you in good stead for some time to come.