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Acer TravelMate B115 review

A budget Windows 8 laptop that aims for portability (and not much else)

Acer Travelmate B115 review

Testing the battery life, the B115 scored 6 hours 19 minutes and 7 seconds on PCMark 8’s Home battery life test. The machine also lasted a good amount during standard usage. I reproducing a traveller’s routine, running the unit unplugged during business hours. It lasted from 9am to 12:15pm, then I put it to sleep for lunch, and then the battery lasted from 3 to 6:30pm, for a total of 6 & 3/4 hours, against their advertised 7. That testing included email, office software, and streaming music and video from YouTube and Netflix. The quality of said streaming video on Netflix was especially sharp, which earned Acer the “HD” qualifier they apply to the display.

In benchmark testing, the B115 scored a 1636 on the PCMark 8 Work Conventional test, including a video chat framerate of just fewer than 30 frames per second (FPS), which is definitely functional for work needs.

Acer Travelmate B115 review

Running elemental gaming benchmark tests on 3DMark, the processor demonstrated some muscle on the low end, but buckling at anything more.

The Ice Storm test, built for low-end devices, would render around 70 FPS, netting a score of 16368. Cloud Gate, for “basic notebooks and home PCs” never broke above 7 FPS, and got a score of 1459.

Unfortunately, Fire Strike, the test “for high performance” gaming PCs crashed before it could finish and give a score, and seemed to render one frame per every few seconds. Those last two tests sure looked damning, but nobody ever said this was a gaming PC. The greatest red-flag in that regard is that instead of a graphics card, it lists on-board “Intel HD Graphics,” a sure sign that this isn’t made for gamers.

  • 3DMark: Ice Storm: 16,368 points; Cloud Gate: 1459 points
  • PCMark 8 Home: 1,636 points
  • PCMark 8 Battery Life: 6 hours 19 minutes

Flaws

The biggest obstacle with the B115 is coming to it after having used anything better or larger. I could see being given this unit by a company looking out for its bottom line, but I could never see wanting to have this in my day to day life.

The B115 fits a full-sized keyboard in a small-form computer, but it just doesn’t feel right. In a week’s testing, I could not get used to this keyboard. While its keys don’t feel cheap, I had numerous instances of clicks not registering. Often times this wasn’t a problem with the keyboard or screen, but in fact with the speed & RAM of the computer. I’d click on an icon to load an app, and thanks to no feedback, I thought I didn’t register the click. Unfortunately, the process took so much time that when I’d click again, two instances of the desired effect would run.

Something that was incredibly frustrating with this review unit was the amount of bloat that the machine came with. Booting into Windows 8.1, I was greeted with an avalanche of things nobody would have wanted. The built in Acer Explorer app store had prominent billing and it was the first thing I removed. The pre-installed McAffee virus protection seemed cute at first, but a never-ending series of notifications, including the warning that its one week trial was about to end quickly soured me. While most office teams should have their own comprehensive security solution in place already, and won’t care about this cruft, one week felt like a cheap move in an age when most products have free 30-day repair windows.

Acer Travelmate B115 review

The biggest thumbs-in-the-eye came from off-brand synergy, which kept reminding me that I was working on a budget computer. Take for example, a preinstalled link on the desktop for a relatively unknown travel website that I won’t give free advertising by mentioning it by name. Sure, I guess there’s an argument to be made for that link being relevant to the travellers this machine is targeted towards, but it being pre-loaded made me feel like I was an Acer product, being sold as eyes to their advertisers.

Additionally, the pre-installed Foxit PhantomPDF application and Acer ProShield apps didn’t give me a feeling of added-value as much as they made me think “send to recycle bin.” If you have an IT department that can wipe the unit before handing it to you, I suggest they remove the garbage and add a specific set of applications. However, if you’re stuck with the machine as is, there’s a lot of Day 0 cleaning to be done. It even tried to install AOL on itself, which I had to decline as an offer.