Acer's TravelMate Timeline 8000 series of laptops are designed as workhorse systems for mobile professionals, available in three screen sizes and claimed by the firm to have upwards of eight hours battery life for all-day use on the road.
Announced during the summer and available now, the TravelMate 8371 is the entry level model of the Timeline 8000 series, featuring a 13.3in display, while the 8471 and 8571 have larger 14in and 15.6in screens respectively.
But the 8371 still has a decent specification with a dual-core 1.4GHz SU9400 processor, up to 4GB memory, and hard drive options up to 500GB. Connectivity options include an Intel 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi adapter, Bluetooth and gigabit Ethernet, while our review unit had an optional 3G modem to allow users to stay connected wherever they are.
In tests, we found the TravelMate 8371 to be a solid if somewhat unexceptional laptop, but with a decent keyboard and better than average battery life. In other words, it should make a good choice for business users that need an everyday workhorse PC rather than a flashy prestige ultraportable with a correspondingly high price tag.
Our review unit was supplied with 4GB of memory and a 320GB 2.5in hard drive, plus a built-in Qualcomm Gobi 2000 3G modem, a configuration that sells for a recommended retail price of £737.50 + VAT.
It also came with Windows Vista Business edition pre-installed rather than the newer Windows 7, and Acer told us it has no plans to offer Windows 7 for the near future, which seems like a very peculiar decision to us. A downgrade disk to XP Professional is included, however.
At 1.65Kg, the TravelMate 8371 is about average in weight for a modern laptop, and quite a modest 25mm thick (about an inch) when closed. Although relatively slim in absolute terms, it looks chunky compared to some of the more recent ultra-thin designs.
The first thing we noticed when we opened the system is the keyboard, which seems large in comparison with many other laptops we have seen. The keys are also larger than usual and have flattened keytops, and we found this design very comfortable for typing. Our review system had a US layout, but Acer said that units shipped to customers in the UK come with a UK keyboard.
In front of the keyboard is the touchpad, which features a fingerprint swipe sensor between the mouse buttons. The touchpad comes with a Synaptics driver that by default enables gestures for scrolling and other functions. A small button disables the touchpad, which is handy for extending periods of typing without worrying about accidentally brushing your hand against it.
Meanwhile, the 13.3in widescreen display gives an excellent image at a default resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. However, we found that when resting on your lap, the screen does not go quite far back enough for a comfortable viewing position. A VGA Crystal Eye webcam is fitted above the display.