The updated Acer TravelMate P645 ($949, £645, AU$1,250) is designed specifically for the business user with ants in his or her pants. Stripped of the bells, whistles and heft of traditional mobile workstations, the P645 is a somewhat lightweight laptop with loads of ports, tremendous battery life and not much else.
It's ideal for anyone who needs to grab their laptop and go, regardless of where they're headed or the type of work they're going to do. If Don Draper/Dick Whitman had a laptop, it would be the Acer TravelMate P645.
There are very few adequate comparisons for the P645 – which was recently upgraded with a fifth-generation Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processor – because it is designed for the same user who might be interested in something ideally suited for business use, like the HP ZBook 17 ($4,630, £2,950, AU$5,500), or something portable and capable, like the Dell XPS 13 (starting at $799, £520, AU$980) ultrabook. Think of the P645 as a compromise between high-end consumer notebooks and low-end enterprise workstations.
However, unlike other laptops on the market, the P645 doesn't try to lure you in with a fancy touchscreen, a super lightweight frame, loads of storage capacity, or the versatility of a hybrid. In fact, it does little more than compute things for a long time on one charge.
If what you're after is a sexy device that can perform 3D modeling or play Call of Duty in stunning detail, check out something else in our Best Laptop roundup. If what you need is something easy to use that can be plugged in almost anywhere and won't die before the workday ends, you're in the right place.
Built almost exactly like last year's P645, the 2015 model comes with a black, carbon-fiber chassis with silver-trimmed ports. Both the chassis and the silver hinges connecting the laptop's upper and lower panel are incredibly sturdy (although you won't want to perform any drop tests). The palm rest and bottom cover are reinforced by magnesium alloy, which should allow you to put a good amount of pressure on the device, but not enough to label this notebook rugged.
The chiclet, spill-resistant keyboard features a left offset trackpad with a fingerprint sensor dividing the two-inch-wide left- and right-click buttons.
The P645, which prides itself on portability, weighs 3.31 pounds (1.5kg), which is superlight for a mobile workstation, but quite heavy when compared to consumer ultrabooks and Chromebooks, most of which probably weigh about 70% of what the P645 weighs. At just 0.8 inches slim (2 cm) and 12.9 inches (32 cm) wide, the P645 slides nicely into any backpack or desk space.
Unfortunately, what you're getting beneath the slim panels isn't very sexy. Packing a totally mediocre HD (1,366 X 768) resolution screen that features no touchscreen functionality, the P645 is not meant for viewing content. Seriously, you'd be better off watching Netflix on your smartphone than on this strictly utilitarian screen.
Not only is the screen image uncomplex given its low pixel count, it's also very grainy and dull. Pretend you're looking at the squishy plastic screen of an old 1990's desktop monitor: that's what looking at the P645 feels like. Yes, you can upgrade to a full HD (1,920 X 1,080) screen, but why should you even have to at this point?