Introducing the Acer TravelMate 8481T-6873

With all of the noise Intel and some of the OEMs are making about ultrabooks, it's easy to forget that as PC users we've already enjoyed thin-and-light and ultraportable notebooks for a while now. Were they sliver-thin? No, but the magical three pound point is something we've always been able to find. Netbooks, for better or worse, only made portability that much more accessible and affordable. With that in mind, we have on hand Acer's TravelMate 8481T, a notebook that measures under an inch thick (without the battery) and sports an SSD and matte screen. If you were in the market for an ultraportable, this one may be worth your attention.

Our review model is the TravelMate 8481T-6873, and will henceforth just be referred to as the already difficult-to-remember "TravelMate 8481T." If you look for it on Acer's website you'll have a hard time finding it; it's technically a "TravelMate TimelineX" unit, which just reminds me of how convoluted their lineup was years ago when I was shopping for my old Athlon 64-powered Gateway. You're not going to find this model readily available on NewEgg but if you're interested a trip through Google Shopping will track it down.

Acer TravelMate TimelineX 8481T-6873 Specifications
Processor Intel Core i7-2637M
(2x1.7GHz + HTT, Turbo to 2.8GHz, 32nm, 4MB L3, 17W)
Chipset Intel UM67
Memory 1x4GB Kingston DDR3-1333 (Max 2x4GB)
Graphics Intel HD 3000 Graphics
(12 EUs, up to 1.2GHz)
Display 14" LED Matte 16:9 768p
LG LP140WH6-TJB1
Hard Drive(s) 128GB SanDisk SATA 3Gbps SSD (onboard)
Optical Drive -
Networking Broadcom NetXtreme Gigabit Ethernet
Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 2.1
Audio Realtek ALC269 HD Audio
Stereo speakers
Mic and headphone jacks
Battery 8-Cell, 14.8V, 87Wh
Front Side SD/MMC card reader
Right Side 2x USB 2.0
Exhaust vent
Kensington lock
AC adaptor
Left Side Ethernet jack
VGA
Exhaust vent
HDMI
eSATA/USB 2.0
USB 3.0
Mic and headphone jacks
Back Side Battery
Operating System Windows 7 Professional 64-bit SP1
Dimensions 12.9" x 9.4" x 0.9" (WxDxH) (without battery)
Weight 4 lbs
Extras 1.3MP webcam
SD card reader
SSD
USB 3.0
Warranty 1-year international warranty
Pricing MSRP $1349
A
vailable online starting at $1202

First things first: while Acer lists the height of the TravelMate 8481T at a slender 0.9", that doesn't include the fact that the battery bulges out of the back and inclines the notebook; take that into account and you're looking at about an inch and a half. That's still not bad, and you'll see later that the massive battery pays big dividends.

There's a lot to like about this configuration, but one thing is becoming abundantly clear: optical drives are most definitely on their way out. These smaller notebooks are dispensing with them entirely, and while Dell might be proud that they managed to squeeze one into their XPS 14z, most vendors seem to be content to just ditch them altogether and honestly I'm not sure I really disagree at this point. The added bulk isn't missed, and with external, USB-powered drives so inexpensive it's hard to justify building one into a notebook anymore unless that notebook was already going to be pretty big to begin with.

In terms of specs and other features, the TravelMate looks very similar to an ultrabook: it has a ULV CPU and an SSD in the model we're reviewing (though a less expensive variant uses an HDD instead). The only thing keeping this out of the ultrabook category is the size of the battery and the resulting thickness. Let's dig a little deeper and see how it fares.

Everything But the Keyboard
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  • hp79 - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    All Acer laptops sucks because the keyboard. They flex a lot and feels so cheap, it should only be for those $200 netbooks. The keys feel like you can lift them off. It even feels like disposable one-time-use stuff. Reply
  • tzirf203 - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    I disagree with this ideology that less expensive laptops, notebooks, net-books should get a cheap, flexible keyboard. You are talking about pennies to give the keyboard some structure & integrity so that it will last the lifespan of the unit. Producing cheap garbage like this, is the reason so many landfills are full of computers; among other electronics because a small inexpensive component on them stops working, which inherently prevents the unit from functioning so we just toss them in the trash and purchase a new one. Simply put its a waste of resources and precious metals, and the only thing it drives is the monetary system and financial goals of large corporations. Reply
  • Malih - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    it's hard to pull a good chiclet keyboard, I've compared MBP's keyboard compared to other chiclet, looks the same, but feels different, MBP is more comfortable especially for someone who types a lot. Reply
  • snuuggles - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    agreed. The MBA and UX31 keyboard look similar. But the Apple keyboard is at least functional, while the UX31 keyboard is simply... not. Reply
  • fic2 - Monday, December 12, 2011 - link

    I agree. I own two Acer laptops and I am pretty sure I will never buy another one. I hate the keyboards. Normally I am a touch typist - except when I am using either laptop. I have to actually look at the keys. My fingers slide all over the flat keys. Reply
  • earthrace57 - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    Hey, I have a small little Dell Insperon 1545, and the keyboard is great for me, there is flex, but I don't type hard, and the keys feel full, like they fill up each and every slot, personally, if I could, I'd lift up this keyboard and put it on any other laptop, but sadly I can't Reply
  • retrospooty - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    When will the madness end? Reply
  • snuuggles - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    Yeah, bad enough on is a 13", now they shove them into larger formats? It amazing these companies think they can compete with apple when they simply refuse to match the most fundamental specs. Idiots. Reply
  • legoman666 - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    I got tired of waiting for a 13-15" $400-600 laptop with decent resolution and bought a used 15.4" Thinkpad off eBay that has a 1920x1200 screen. I love it. Honestly, the only thing I care about in a laptop are the parts I interact with; the screen, keyboard, and touchpad. I don't care if it's super fast, I'm not going to play games on it, I don't really care a whole lot about battery life as long as it lasts 2+ hours, I don't care about hard drive space, external video outputs or any other shit. I just want to browse the internet and type, dammit. Reply
  • ScottHavens - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    I stopped reading the article halfway down the first page, when I saw it was 14" and that screen resolution. That kills any interest I have. Reply

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