Acer Timeline U M5-481TG (2012): Full Review – Part 3

Friday, August 17th, 2012 11:31:25 by

Amazingly, the Timeline U M5 manages to fit a tray-loading DVD drive into the left side, a feat that makers of similarly thick ultrabooks like the Sony Vaio T seemingly found impossible or undesirable. Most regular folks would probably prefer to have a DVD drive if price and size weren’t an issue. They’re not, in this case, so it’s a win.

Ports on the M5 have been shifted to the back of the laptop, an odd choice in terms of access. For Ethernet and the power-in jack, it’s a plus. For USB 3.0 and HDMI, it’s a minus.

The raised and backlit keyboard resembles many other keyboards from Asus, Toshiba, and others. Keys are comfortable and about as shallow as those on a MacBook Air; the only problem is the annoying column of keys on the right side that cramps access to the Enter/Shift keys. Volume and other controls are carried out with combination Fn/other key presses on the keyboard.

Not only is the keyboard good, but so is the touch pad: the matte, slightly recessed multitouch Synaptics clickpad worked better than those on some more expensive laptops I’ve seen. There’s enough finger room to be useful, while leaving ample palm rest space on the sides.

Quick challenge: where’s the power button? It took me several minutes to spot it on the Timeline U M5. The thin, narrow button is on the front edge of the laptop, one of the oddest choices I could think of. It’s hard to press, hard to reach, and easy to accidentally trigger in a bag. Bad move.

A glossy 1,366×768-pixel-resolution, 14-inch display has average picture quality and poor off-axis viewing angles, but DVDs, Netflix streaming video, and games all look fine on it. Colors are vivid, even if black levels are poor. Normally, I’d look for a higher-resolution screen on a 14-inch laptop. At this price, it’s forgivable. (But, on Acer’s larger 15.6-inch version of the Timeline U M5, which has the same 1,366×768 resolution, it’s not).

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