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10/10

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Acer TravelMate 8204WLMi - Dual Core Notebook - Acer TravelMate 8204WLMi

The TravelMate 8204WLMi is obviously based on the Napa platform, sporting a 2.0GHz dual core Yonah chip. Acer hasn’t skimped on the supporting components either, throwing in 2GB of RAM and a 120GB hard disk. The graphics chipset is nearly as new as the CPU – I’ve only seen a demo notebook from ATI running the new X1600 chipset before, but the TravelMate is packing a production version complete with 256MB of video memory.

The TravelMate 8204WLMi definitely feels swift in use and much like a desktop system equipped with a dual core chip, you can run a plethora of tasks simultaneously without any discernible slowdown. Want to run a full virus scan while you get on with some spreadsheet work? No problem. Why not do some media encoding while you’re at it? This notebook really will take anything you throw at it and just come back for more.

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It’s also worth remembering that we’re going to see more and more multi-threaded applications hitting the street over the next year or so, which means that a dual core machine will actually get faster as the software learns to take advantage of the new hardware. But right now, Yonah means that more than ever, you really can do pretty much anything on a notebook that you can on a desktop PC.

Of course there’s more to a notebook than the internal components and Acer has made sure that the TravelMate 8204WLMi is a worthy vessel for Intel’s new baby. If you read my review of the Ferrari 4000 you’ll know that Acer knows how to build good looking notebooks and this one is no exception. The lid is finished in carbon fibre with a silver Acer logo at the centre – the effect is stunning. Mounted in the top of the lid is a 1.3 megapixel rotating digital camera – ideal for video conferencing if you want the other person to see you and your surroundings.

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Opening up the lid reveals one of Acer’s trademark curved keyboards. You either love these keyboards or hate them – thankfully I’m in the former camp and find them very comfortable to type on. Since this is a very early sample, the keyboard is US rather than UK spec, but of course production samples will be correctly equipped. Despite the US layout, the keyboard has a good solid feel to it. There isn’t a hint of flex in the keyboard no matter how hard you’re hammering it, while the key travel and spring back is spot on.

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