So far we have a great chassis with good if poorly located connectivity, but what’s the Acer Aspire Timeline U M3 Ultra like to use? Thankfully, though its keyboard is not backlit it still provides a very nice typing experience. Number crunchers will be happy to hear that the Timeline U M3’s 15.6in form factor gives enough room for a full number pad. Keys are spaced a tad too far apart but well laid out, and offer decent feedback along with crisp action – which is what we want most from any laptop keyboard when you get right down to it.
The huge matt touchpad is likewise a pleasure to use, as it offers a smooth, sensitive surface along with easy to press ‘buttons’.
The screen is often the most dangerous area for laptops, especially affordable ones, since the TN panels used in the majority usually suffer from poor viewing angles and other annoyances. The 15.6in affair Acer has used here is no exception, but doesn’t fare badly at all compared to other affordable Ultrabooks. It sports the usual 1,366 x 768 resolution, and while this isn’t really what we like to see on a display of this size, we can’t complain considering the Aspire Timeline U M3 Ultra 581T-32364G34Mnkk’s sub-£500 price.
It sports a glossy finish that does cause annoying reflections but also gives colours that bit of extra verve and further enhances the already fairly deep blacks. Dark detailing is good if not perfect, as only the darkest shades are indistinguishable. And though vertical angles are as poor as ever meaning you need to tilt the screen carefully, vertically they’re quite strong with only the merest hint of contrast shift. In other words, it’s ‘good enough’ for the majority of work or play.
As you would hope given the extra chassis space, this 15in Ultrabook kicks most of the current 13in crop to the curb when it comes to audio. The Dolby processing-enhanced stereo speakers manage quite a bit of depth and clarity, and while they lack punch in the bass department they’re rarely in tinny territory. Unless you’re listening to music or trying to get the most out of a movie, headphones are not required.