back to article Acer Aspire Timeline M3 Ultra review

It seems safe to say that Ultrabooks haven’t given the PC market the shot in the arm that Intel was hoping for. The high prices haven’t helped, of course, and there also seems to be some evidence that many people are turned off by the relatively small 13in screens that dominate the Ultrabook category. Acer Aspire Timeline …


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  1. andreas koch

    A bit expensive for the specs

    You can pick up a similar Toshiba Satellite at your local greengrocers for £100 less. OK, it'll be 6mm thicker and 200g heavier, but then there's a 2.4 GHz i3 in it as well . . .

    No big news here.

    BTW: The Bluetooth issue is not a big deal: An aftermarket combi card to replace the built-in wifi-only comes at about £13.50...

    1. N13L5

      What is it with reviewers complaining about the only correct placement of connectors?

      Those too lazy to reach their hand around the back to hook up another wire, should not tyrannize the rest of us, who would like to have free use of our desks to both sides of a laptop instead of turning the area into a snakes nest of cables! We need that room unobstructed by cables for papers, books, other things we work with. Not to mention how it is not fun to push a mouse through an area with wires.

      So, the M3 does one thing really well for once: keeping your desk clean. Thanks, Acer!

      Now the resolution is truly too crappy for a 15.6" screen. I'll excuse that on the gamer's version with the GT 640M GPU, cause the relatively low resolution of course helps the GPU loads when it comes to playing games at decent frame rates.

      But on a version limited to Intel graphics, it kinda looses its justification to live, maybe with the exception of buyers who mainly want to watch movies on it? Whatever.

      I've seen the screen measured too, and its a pretty crappy screen. But people are used to crappy screens, every manufacturer uses them on most of their stuff, except for a few standouts. Even spending over thousand doesn't keep you safe from a junk screen like this.

      I think the 14" version is by far the better choice. It doesn't cramp the keyboard to squeze a number pad on it, and make you sit off center just to touch type. 1366x768 is still not really good at 14" but somewhat less bad, and the 14" is smaller, lighter, still has the DVD. If I got desperate for a small machine with a GT 640M, I'd buy a 14" M5 from Acer with the back lit keyboard.

      But for now, I'm waiting for the other 140 Ultrabooks Otellini has promised for fall 2012.

  2. K
    Thumb Down

    1366 x 768 ...

    You hit the nail on the head! Far too small ..

  3. Steve Todd

    Acer seem to have entirely missed the point

    It's not a small, lightweight, SSD powered machine with 5+ hours of battery life when doing anything meaningful so it's not really an ultrabook. Best case you could list it as a thin and light conventional 15" laptop.

  4. Silverburn

    So to summarise...'s a midrange laptop that's nothing special...?

  5. David Gosnell

    Novatech nFinity

    How about the Novatech nFinity range, e.g.

    Under £500 inc. VAT if you despecify Windows - with SSD, Bluetooth and the works...

    I thought everyone knew Novatech were worth a look if you can't find what you want at the right price!

    1. batfastad
      Thumb Up

      Re: Novatech nFinity

      Nice! That is all.

  6. Steve Crook

    2.25Kg? Ultrabook?

    Screen resolution isn't anything to write home about either....

  7. Rich Harding

    Toshiba Satellite R830-1GZ

    1.4kg, i5, looks lovely, works even better, huge battery life, no pointless number pad reducing key size, Mint works perfectly out of the box (OK, USB stick)...

  8. batfastad

    Ultra utter nonsense

    Good to see someone deigning to put an ethernet socket in an ultrabook. Shame they didn't put in VGA/HDMI. It's bonkers that manufacturers design these laptops for portability then ask you to carry around some adaptors for ethernet/video, which you invariably can't find when you really really need them.

    As it goes I can't remember the last time I needed an optical drive when out and about so I would have liked to see Acer give that a miss on this model.

    I'll probably still stick with my Asus 1005HA-P netbook though for the time being, 10hr battery life (perfect for a transatlantic flight and the associated faffing about in airports), under half the mass of this unit and smaller. And under half the price.

  9. The New Turtle

    "The high prices haven’t helped, of course, and there also seems to be some evidence that many people are turned off by the relatively small 13in screens"

    That's completely face backwards. Likely customers of ultrabooks want a 13" screen with good vertical resolution - ideally 1440X900 until screen resolution management has been sorted out in Windows, and can cope with higher resolutions without munging text and icons. This device is exactly wrong, and convinces me that there is a mountain of old 1366X768 that they must use up before modernising their designs.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Intel Graphics !

  11. Arctic fox

    Hold the front page! Acer make something that is not *totally* pants.

    ........Apologies if I appear less than enthused but, as others have pointed out, this is neither one thing nor the other and is not particularly good at anything. Yes, the price is not too bad but what is one supposed to say? "It's ok, it's not a complete dog and they are not completely taking the piss as far as the price is concerned". This kind of thing just illustrates why Acer's CEO was getting way to big for his boots when he began to howl the other day about MS' decision to market some of its own hardware. Indeed it sums up why MS are making the "Surface" in the first place.

  12. Azzy

    Typical Acer garbage.

    Solid-state storage? No, it's a flash accelerated spinning drive, fine for the pri--- oh, wait, no, it's just a bog standard, bottom-of-the-line harddrive...?

    Plus, it weighs a ton (for an ultrabook), and they used every cubic millimeter permitted by the standard as well, so it's not portable like an ultrabook is supposed to be. Part of this problem is of course due to Acer's boneheaded decision to include an optical drive.

    On top of that, it's got shit resolution (this needs to be judged more harshly in Register reviews - no 15 inch 1366x768 laptop should be getting 80%), and the power button is located in a non-standard place (it sounds like it's on the outside, which means it'll get turned on while carrying it around - so much for battery life!).

    The physical ethernet port is nice, sure, as is the third USB port, but that's no big accomplishment considering the size of this system, and they put the ports on the wrong side of the computer. And didn't even include a mic or line-in port, and the video output is HDMI rather than VGA, so you still need an adapter!

    This computer looks like Acer looked at one of their "mid-range" (by Acer standards) laptops, and realized that if they made the case a little thinner, it would qualify as an Ultrabook, without them having to provide a system capable of delivering the performance or portability that Ultrabooks are all about.

    1. xj25vm

      Re: Typical Acer garbage.

      Agree about the power button. Placing it on the outside - specially the front edge - is a recipe for the laptop turning on during transport. Bad idea.

      Oh, and the rest - of course the spec on this machine is worse than average - it doesn't do anything particularly well. Don't know why The Reg fell for the "ultrabook" moniker anyway - as this machine is as far away from what an ultrabook is supposed to be anyway.

  13. No-Im-Seth

    I have had worse ;-)

    I have had a better model to this one since April. Mine is the M3-581TG which consists of ; 1.6Ghz i5-2467M, 4GB Ram, 128GB SSD Drive (mSATA), Nvidia GT640M with its own 1GB of memory. It cost £640 from ebuyer.

    The i3 version reviewed should be priced lower as it doesnt stand apart from the rest.

    Ok so it isnt an ultra book but as a work horse desktop/old laptop replacement it is perfect.

    I spend 2-3 days a week staying away from home and needed something portable but powerful.

    I have used it for playing battlefields 3, editing some wedding videos (2 so far), general microsoft office work on word excel and powerpoint etcetera, Computer Based Training, Forensic investigations, Network monitoring, vulnerability Scanning and general sysadmin work. Mine also has a HDMI out which i have used in Hotels to view my own movies (not that kind :-P) without the premium charges.

    Mine also has a USB 3.0 Port which i use for bootable USB drives including ubuntu, back track and Sans SIFT. All worked excelently on the device.

    I have been getting 7-8 hours out of it between charges when doing general stuff. movie editing and FPS gaming reduce this by 50%ish.

    The sockets on the back are a pain in the ####

    The powerbutton is in a stupid position.

    The DVD burner has been used many times.

    The number pad is unnecessary.

    To Summarise.

    - It is cheaper than the MacBook Pro/Air and most other Ultrabooks.It is lighter and Cheaper than most other gaming laptops. It is what all laptops should be like once they sort out the keyboard (i think the M5 is back lit and a little better spaced out) and move the connector ports to the right hand side. I thought the screen resolution would bother me but it hasnt yet. I use the CTRL + Mouse Wheel to reduce the display size of applications if i want two on a screen. It is probably to do with my failing eye site that i like it quite big.

  14. BrendHart


    12-13 inch notebooks are awesome.

    I have an Asus 1201n with a 12.1 inch screen running at 1366*768 which cost close to nothing and because of its small size I can put a neoprene case on it and take it anywhere.

    I wish ultrabooks followed the design philosophy of the 1201n. It cost one third of the cost of an ultrabook, had a decent for the time (Ion chipset for graphics.) Although the dual core Atom can at time be a tiny bit slow.

    Give the world an incremental version of that keeping the price low and putting an entry level CULV cpu in it and they will sell by the bucketload.

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