Acer TravelMate laptops are aimed at business users, so you won't find too much in the way of multimedia features on the TravelMate 4285WLMi (£1021 inc. VAT). What you will find is an impressive configuration for the price, and a battery life capable of keeping you mobile for a good portion of the day.
Weighing in at 3kg, it's not the most portable of machines, but anyone looking for a workhorse will appreciate its solid build. The inclusion of a DVD rewriter also means you can use this as your sole computer.
However, it's not the basic tasks that make this machine stand out. If you need to stay in touch with the office when out and about, for instance, you can take advantage of the SIM card slot hidden away under the battery.
Until recently, such a feature could only be added using a PC Card, which projected from the side of your laptop. Capable of handling 3G data speeds, it's fine for collecting and sending emails, with attachments if necessary, and surfing the internet is an option, but you'll find it a sluggish experience.
This is a dual-core machine, but it's not a high-end choice, which is reflected in the price. The Intel Core 2 Duo T5500 (1.66GHz) chip is a mid-range solution, but it's fast enough for most tasks. It comes with 1024MB of memory and ran all applications with ease.
In terms of build quality, the finish is the standard Acer 'Folio' design, which is solid to the touch if a little uninspiring. We found a degree of heat build-up on the left side of the case, which is annoying more than a sign of weak design.
The 15.4-inch TFT screen is a standard panel, so you won't find a glossy coating causing reflections, but it's bright enough and images had an even tone throughout.
Ability to play
If you're intending to use this machine for more than work, the inclusion of the nVidia GeForce Go 7600 graphics card means games are an option. As with the CPU, it's a mid-range offering, but is more than capable of handling standard games.
The keyboard isn't the average rectangular shape found on other laptops, as Acer ships its business machines with a keyboard that is curved by five degrees. For the average user, this means the keys are in a slightly more ergonomic position. It takes a little getting used to, but as the keys are well fixed and have a solid feel as you type, it's a welcome touch.