If you take a trip to your local PC superstore and take a look at all the laptops under £399, you'll find that the majority are fat, heavy, plasticky and cumbersome. The Acer Aspire Timeline X3820TZ couldn't be more different, and it's just as portable and solid as it is great value.
The Timeline is finished with a solid brushed-metal lid and the same material is also used on the palmrest as well. This gives it a solid feel, reminiscent of a quality ultraportable, but instead of costing in excess of £700, this is available for a mere £380.
This 13.3-inch laptop weighs just 1.9kg, something your back will thank you for if you have a long commute.
Any 13-inch laptop at this size and price will immediately draw comparisons with netbooks, but let us be clear, there's a huge difference.
Firstly, the Aspire Timeline X3820TZ features a dual-core 2.00GHz Intel Pentium processor, which means it's capable of more than just simple web browsing. What's more, it also has a comfortable full-sized keyboard.
However, like a netbook, there's no optical drive supplied, so DVDs and CDs are out of the question – prompting questions about whether it's suitable as a main PC.
Elsewhere, you'll find a healthy 3072MB of memory, which will keep it feeling responsive and fast when working on day-to-day tasks, and a 320GB hard drive, which is enough for most people.
The screen looks sharp and clear, but the glossy coating of the Super TFT screen will make it hard to see in direct sunshine.
We would expect most budget ultraportables and netbooks to slump in our lab tests, as the limits of low-cost, low-profile technology bite, but the Acer Aspire Timeline X3820TZ performed in line with most of the laptops at this price, achieving similar scores to the Samsung R540 and HP Pavilion dv6-3046sa, despite being over half a kilo lighter.
Its abundance of processing power means that it's capable of web surfing, tackling more demanding tasks like dealing with SD video, and watching rich web content.
Battery life: 594 minutes
MobileMark 2007: 208
3DMark 2003: 3188
In addition to impressive performance for such a low-cost ultraportable, the Acer still has one trick up its sleeve.
In our battery life tests, it achieved a staggering nine hours, meaning it will last a whole day out on the road, on campus, or simply out in the park on a sunny afternoon. This level of performance was untouched by any of its rivals around this price.
At such a competitive price, quality build and powerful spec, the Acer could be the UK's best-value laptop. If your needs are basic and portability is important, then you'd be mad to ignore it.
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