Naturally, one of the highlights of the Timeline series is its use of Intel’s Consumer Ultra-Low Voltage (CULV) processors. At the heart of the 5810T-354G32Mn beats a Core 2 Solo U3500 CPU running at a relatively pedestrian 1.4GHz. Though this single-core part is far faster than a higher-clocked Atom and will run 720p content with consummate ease, not only did efficiently-encoded Full HD content leave it struggling in our tests, but even HD YouTube posed a challenge. This is something that the dual-core version would alleviate and which a more powerful GPU with HD-video decoding (using compatible software) would solve altogether. Of course, you can get a dual-core version of this Timeline – if you’re prepared to dole out the £170 premium that demands.
As you might have guessed from the above, the graphics side of the 5810T is fairly weak too, with Intel’s good old integrated GMA 4500MHD returning an utterly unplayable 4.34fps in TrackMania Nations Forever on medium detail at the screen’s native resolution. However, while they’re no great performers, it’s worth keeping in mind that Intel’s integrated graphics solutions are very frugal on the battery.
There’s also nothing weak about the rest of this Timeline’s specifications. Starting off with 4GB of RAM despite only coming with a 32-bit version of Windows Vista Premium, the 5810T continues on with a very generous 500GB hard drive, the highest capacity you’ll find on a notebook until 640GB drives begin to hit the market. Nor has Acer skimped on wireless connectivity, with Draft-N and Bluetooth 2.0 plus EDR rounding things out nicely.
As you can see in our PCMark Vantage results, the 5810T-354G32Mn performed slightly better than the 4810T-353 despite sharing the exact-same CPU and chipset. This slight hike can be attributed to the different hard drive used, but keep in mind that in real-world use the performance-difference is negligible.
Last but hardly least we come to the machine’s battery life. This is almost the same as the 4810T-353 (despite the extra screen acreage) thanks to its high capacity 5,800mAh (63 Watt-hour) battery. Both machines give an excellent result of over six and-a-half hours in the non-intensive Reader test with Wi-Fi turned off and screen brightness at a very usable 40 per cent, and since the screen is still perfectly legible at minimum brightness you can easily get even longer out of it.
Best of all, at a very reasonable £599 the 5810T is just as affordable as the other Aspire Timelines. However, the question remains if a slightly underpowered system with excellent battery life makes sense at this size. In terms of chassis, the only advantages you get are the full number pad, an extra USB port and arguably the bigger screen. Just on the basis of these we’d recommend going for the smaller and lighter (1.9kg versus 2.4kg) 4810T-353 despite its smaller hard drive.
If you’re looking for something of an all-rounder, the 5810T isn’t quite that easy to recommend either, since the likes of Samsung’s R522 offer more for less in everything but battery life. The R522 features a regular Core 2 Duo which can handle Full HD and more strenuous multitasking, and connectivity is also improved with the addition of eSATA. However, if you must have the bigger form factor and demand the best battery life, Acer’s largest Timeline is still worth considering.
Acer once again shows off the potential of Intel’s CULV processors with its conservative-looking Aspire Timeline 5810T-354G32Mn. Some of the best battery-life we’ve seen on a 15.6in laptop joins superb build quality, intelligent design and good ergonomics to form a generally well-specified laptop that is only held back in intensive usage and HD entertainment by its single-core Core 2 Solo CPU. It’s still a decent laptop, but if true portability is what you’re after, you’re better off with the 14in or 13.3in models in the Timeline range.