Heat and Noise
Under stress the Intel Core i7-680 1.46GHz ultra low voltage processor raised the outside case temperature of the Acer Aspire 1830T into the "almost uncomfortably warm" category. After 30 minutes with both the CPU and GPU stressed, the bottom of the notebook reached temperatures just shy of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Under normal conditions at or near idle the same spots were about 5-8 degrees cooler. The system fan works harder in this notebook compared to most Atom-based netbooks we've tested, but the quiet hum of the fan shouldn't be annoying for most people in a typical school or office environment.
The Timeline series of notebooks has always set the bar high in terms of battery life. Acer claimed the original 13-inch Aspire Timeline notebook could deliver "up to 10 hours" of battery life (a claim that never quite panned out) and Acer claims the 1830T can deliver "up to 8 hours" on a single charge. This time, Acer's statements about battery life might be fairly accurate.
In our tests with the screen brightness set to 70%, wireless active while refreshing a website on regular intervals, and Windows 7 set to the Balanced profile, the Aspire 1830T continued running for 7 hours and 48 minutes. I have little doubt that you can extend the battery life past the 8-hour mark if you lower the screen brightness and aren't actively loading pages every 60 seconds. By comparison, the ASUS Eee PC 1215N netbook with dual-core Atom processor and Nvidia ION graphics stayed on for 5 hours and 34 minutes and Apple's new 11.6-inch MacBook Air delivered 6 hours and 15 minutes.
The Acer Aspire 1830T Timeline X is an attractive notebook that successfully delivers netbook convenience and notebook performance in a single package. The question then becomes, "Is that enough?" There's no denying that $900 buys you an ultraportable notebook with better performance than a netbook. The problem is that there are other notebooks (such as the Alienware M11x and the Apple MacBook Air) that do that same thing and provide better gaming performance as well.
Combine the lack of gaming capability with the frustrating touchpad and consumers might just be tempted to buy the heavier and thicker Alienware or the more expensive Apple instead. If you don't care about gaming then the Acer makes a compelling option. Although our review configuration of the 1830T is priced at $899 there are other configurations of the 1830T (such as the Aspire 1830T-3927) priced as low as $599. That's not bad for a laptop that slaughters a netbook in terms of multitasking and video performance.
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