Acer TravelMate 3012WTMi Review (pics, specs)

by proempiet Reads (84,910)

by Lammert Beukema, The Netherlands

 

The Acer Travelmate 3012WTMi is Acer’s latest ultraportable notebook.  According to the Acer website it is designed entirely on Acer’s ambition to optimize the balance between high-performance ultraportability and superior efficiency by creating the ultimate lightweight notebook for highly-mobile professionals and dynamic businesses. Weighing just 1.5kgs, the Acer TravelMate 3010 is the first ultraportable Acer notebook to feature the latest Intel Centrino Core Duo Mobile Technology, offering maximum productivity, superior unwired freedom and ultra-connectivity to drive your business mobility into the future.

Specs for the 3012WTMi as Reviewed:

  • Processor: Intel Centrino Duo T2300 (@1,66 GHz, 667 MHz FSB, 2MB L2 Cache)
  • OS: Microsoft Windows XP Professional (Service Pack 2 installed)
  • 1 GB DDR2 (Supported dual-channel)
  • 12.1″ WXGA TFT LCD with 1280 x 800 pixel resolution, 16:10 viewing ratio, supporting simultaneous multi-window viewing via Acer GridVista
  • Intel 945GM integrated 3D graphics, featuring Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 950 and up to 224 MB of shared memory, supporting Microsoft DirectX 9.0 and PCI Express
  • 1,3 Mega pixel webcam
  • Bluetooth VOIP handset
  • Slots: PC Card slot (type II can be used to charge the Acer Bluetooth VOIP phone), 5-in-1 card reader (SD/MMC/MS/MS PRO/xD)
  • Ports: 3 x USB 2.0, Fast Infrared (FIR) port, VGA port, IEEE 1394 (can be used for the external dual layer dvd-write), Modem (RJ-11), Gigabit Ethernet (RJ-45), Speaker/ headphone/ line-out jack with S/PDIF support, Microphone/line-in jack, 124-pin Acer ezDockconnector, DC-in jack for AC adapter
  • Battery: 53W 6-cell Li-ion battery pack and 22W 3-cell Li-ion battery pack
  • Integrated Communications: Modem, Gigabit Ethernet, WLAN 802.11a/b/g, Bluetooth, IrDA
  •  Dimensions: 11.7″ (297.5mm) W x 8.3″ (210.0mm) D x 1.0″ – 1.3″ (24.5mm – 32.4mm) H
  • Weight: 3.3 lb. (1.5kg) with three-cell battery and without external optical drive, 3.7 lb. (1.7kg) with six-cell battery and without external optical drive

Reasons to Purchase

I bought this notebook for my sister. She has her own clinical research company in the Netherlands and travels a lot. Currently she owns an Acer Travelmate 4001WLMi (Intel Pentium-M 715 (1.5GHz/2MB), 512MB, 60GB, 15.4″ 1280*800, ATi Radeon Mobility 9700, 64MB) but this laptop is too heavy to carry around and since her new secretary needed a laptop the larger 4001WLMi was transferred to her and is still useful.

Purchase Options

I also bought an ezDock (Acer docking station) because at her office she has a normal sized LCD, keyboard and mouse. This laptop will be connected to the LCD by means of a 4 port KVM switch because she also has a DELL Latitude connected to the same LCD.

The price she paid for the notebook was about 1,650 Euros,- ($2,032,-) and the docking station (Easy Dock light) was about 234 Euros,- ($285,-) both were bought at www.centralpoint.nl (a Dutch web shop)

Design and Build


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The Acer Travelmate 3012WTMi is a cool looking, nice and small notebook; it looks like the top cover is aluminium but it is not. It is some kind of plastic that looks like cabon-fiber.


The above picture is with the six-cell battery which will give you about 3:40 of battery life.  (view large image)


Picture with the three-cell battery, this battery will give you about 1:30 of battery life (view large image)


Frontside picture with the speakers on the left and right and then (from the right to the left) the Fast Infrared (FIR) port , Line in, Stereo out, Hdd led, Charging led, Wlan on/off  and Bluetooth on/off switch. (view large image)


Right side view with the Bluetooth VOIP PCMCIA card in the slot, then a USB port and the IEEE1394 port for the external dual-layer DVD burner. (view large image)

Below is a close up picture of the Bluetooth VOIP handset. This handset can be used with Skype and MSN Messenger. I used it with Skype and it worked nicely. I had a little difficulty setting it up with Skype (I had to change the audio device in “Bluetooth-audio”) but after adjusting this it works like a charm. I need to find out how to switch quickly to it and back in Skype because the phone will not be switched on all the time and then I want to answer with the built in microphone and speakers!


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Rear side view with on the left the DC-in connector and right the ezDockconnector. (view large image)


Left side you have the VGA, Gigabyte Lan, Modem and 2 USB ports. (view large image)

For some size comparison I placed the 3012WTMi on the 4001WLMi:

 
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Next you can see some pictures from the ezDock.  This docking station can be bought in a 90Watt and a 135 Watt version. I bought the 95-Watt version because it should be enough for the notebook. The ezDock comes without a power cable, so that should be bought seperately.

 
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The ezDock has the following connectors:

Leftside

  • 4 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x mini IEEE 1394 (shame because the external DVD burner a normal IEEE1394 connector)

On the back

  • PS2 (Mouse and keyboard)
  • VGA
  • SPDIF
  • LAN
  • Line in, Mic in, Stereo out
  • Serial
  • Parallel
  • S-Video out
  • DVI
  • Power in connector

Keybord and input

The keyboard feels good, every key provides firm feedback and each key feels individual. I am not used to keyboards with 84/85 keys so I have to get used that if I want to press the home button in which you need to press “Fn”+”Pg Up” :-(


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There is a touchpad which has rough feel (comparing to the 4001WLMi)

Benchmarks

I did not format this machine, I’ve only added to it in terms of programs.  I did not change my video drivers so everything right now is stock, and so the results below for Super Pi and 3DMark04 should represent the true out of the box experience.


HDTune hard drive benchmark results (view large image)


HDTune hard drive benchmark results (view large image)

Screen


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The screen is perfect. It is crisp and clear and the native resolution of 1280×800 is very nice.

Battery

As mentioned above, the Acer 3012 is equipped with two batteries (only one can be installed). One is a 53W 6-cell Li-ion battery pack and will give you about 3:40 of battery life and 22W 3-cell Li-ion battery pack which will give you about 1:30 of battery life. Normaly my sister will use the 6-cell battery and when see needs extra battery life on the road see can use the 3-cell battery. The batteries charge very rapidly according to Acer, 80% of the charge being restored in just one hour, 100% in 2 hours (with the power off) and 100% in 2.5 hours when working with the notebook on.

Heat and Noise

The Acer 3012 is very quiet you can hardly hear the fan. There is almost no heat and you can work with this laptop on your lap for hours.

Software

The Acer comes with the following software installed:

  • VCM – software for the Bluetooth VOIP handset.
  • Acer GraviSence — Software that can do some hard drive protection software (parking the heads) and anti-theft software (if your hard drive detects movement it will lock your computer)
  • Acer GridVista — With this software you can organise you windows on the desktop (see http://www.acer.co.th/product/travelmate/AcerGridVista.htm for an explenation)
  • Acer Launch Manager — Software to manage the email,  www, etc hardware buttons
  • Acer Empowering Technology (eDataSecurity Management / eLock Management / ePerformance Management / eRecovery Management / eSettings Management / eNet Management / ePower Management / ePresentation Management)
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader , Cyberlink PowerDVD , NTI CD Maker , Norton AntiVirus

Wireless

The Acer 3012 has Bluetooth 2.0+EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) and WLAN 802.11a/b/g, Bluetooth, IrDA. The Bluetooth works perfectly with the Bluetooth VOIP handset and with my Orange SPV C500 GSM phone (I did some GRPS web surfing and this worked perfectly). The WLAN also works and has never failed me in finding and working with my WLAN-router.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Nice small laptop
  • Weight and size perfect for a traveler
  • Core Duo works very fast

Cons

  • WebCam does not work with Skype
  • Battery life could be better for a road warrier like my sister.
  • No big IEEE1394 connector on the ezDock(for the external DVD-burner)
  • Connecting the Acer to the ezDock is difficult (the need to be allinged perfectly to connect)

Pricing and Availability


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