Battery Life

Getting detailed specifications for the Acer TimelineU M3 has been a little bit difficult; the notebook isn't on Acer's site yet (despite apparently having been released into the wild) and our reviewer's guide is a bit light on details. The box for it claims a meager 3-cell battery, but we're told it has a healthy 55Wh of capacity. That seems pretty dense, but as you'll see it's believable.

Unfortunately due to the crunch we don't yet have results for media playback, but those will be added as soon as humanly possible.

Battery Life - Idle

Battery Life - Internet

Relative Battery Life - Idle

Relative Battery Life - Internet

The TimelineU M3 absolutely rocks socks on the battery. NVIDIA's Optimus technology is in full effect here, and as a result the M3 is able to meet and beat the advertised eight hours of battery life that even the reviewer's guide for the M3 claims. This is one place where using the ULV i7-2637M does seem to pay major dividends compared to the full voltage chips.

Heat and Noise

Heat and noise are two more places where having that ULV chip seems to help the M3. While load noise isn't exactly ideal, it's only roughly 41dBA under load, and that's only when the GPU is being stressed. Meanwhile, no hot spots seem to develop on the top surface of the notebook. That said, top-center on the bottom of the M3 does get a bit warm; it's not uncomfortably hot and certainly won't scald you, but there's definitely a single sharp source of heat inside the M3.

Screen Quality

At the risk of digressing, when I used to write for NotebookReview I found myself trying to eschew talking about the speakers of the notebooks I reviewed whenever possible because the results were the same 99% of the time. That's remained true here; notebook speakers are typically only worth talking about when they're not terrible. The reason I bring this up is because I'm beginning to feel the same way when testing the notebook screens. It's obviously useful information, but this is a component that almost always underwhelms, and the same is true again with the Acer TimelineU M3.

While the 1366x768 resolution of today's mediocre TN panel is ideal for our bandwidth-constrained GPU, it doesn't require any feat of prestidigitation to say that the comments on this review will once again light up with well-founded complaints about a 15.6" screen running this resolution natively. Frankly it's just inadequate for a notebook this size, and we're going to keep harping about these subpar panels until manufacturers wise up and start getting it right.

LCD Analysis - Contrast

LCD Analysis - White

LCD Analysis - Black

LCD Analysis - Delta E

LCD Analysis - Color Gamut

You can see from our test results that it doesn't necessarily have to be this bad. While the M14x's screen is underwhelming in places, it also runs at a superior 1600x900 resolution. The Sony Vaio Z2 may be a premium notebook (or at least a premium-priced one), but you at least see where some of that purchase price is going: a fantastic, high-resolution screen.

Meanwhile, the Acer TimelineU M3 sports the industry-standard dismal TN panel with weak viewing angles, low contrast, and low color accuracy and quality. This needs to change, and there's really no reason to settle for a crappy display when you're putting in 256GB SSDs.

And let's be clear about the costs: when an end user can go out and purchase a replacement AU Optronics B156HW01 v4 display for under $100 (compared to around $60 for a typical 1366x768 panel), the cost savings can't be that much for the laptop makers. Granted, with ultrabooks the manufacturers are also looking to get the thinnest panels they can find (another misguided goal in my book: thinness while sacrificing keyboard and display quality just doesn't make sense), but there are still much better 15.6" displays out there that would only increase the BOM by $50 at most.

Gaming Performance Conclusion: A GeForce and an Acer Both So Close
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  • Finraziel - Thursday, March 15, 2012 - link

    Hell, my old 15" laptop from 2002 had a 1400x1050 screen (and a buddy at the same time had one with 1920x1200, I don't think you can even get that anymore and no 1080 isn't as good)... It's ridiculous how laptopscreens only seem to get worse over time. Reply
  • Mitch89 - Thursday, March 15, 2012 - link

    I have fond memories of the WSXGA+ panel in my Dell 8600, 1680x1050 in a 15.4in display was awesome. You could even get a WUXGA 1920x1200 panel as well.

    That was 2003, yet this 1366x768 crap is still being offered today.

    Very much looking forward to Apple pushing the envelope on laptop displays, the 1920x1200 display on my 17" Pro is good, but a res bump would be sweet. (and please offer a matte option...)
    Reply
  • SnowCat00 - Saturday, March 17, 2012 - link

    My Thinkpad T60P from five years ago has 1680 X 1050 15 inch panel, the one thing holding me back from replacing it is all the crappy panels that are going into laptops lately... For once I say Go Apple! I hope the new Ipad pushes manufactures to start putting better screens inyo there tablets and laptops. Reply
  • Mumrik - Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - link

    Yup.

    I stopped reading after I noticed the resolution. It's time for this shit to end. Since LCDs took over we've been in a race towards the bottom - lower resolutions and worse and worse panels.
    I really hope the dick measuring contest in the smartphone and tablet space leads to more high and ultra high resolution IPS (and with time OLED) displays in laptops and desktop monitors. So few even offer a high res alternative these days.
    Reply
  • VoraciousGorak - Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - link

    Yeah.

    "...one of the most compelling notebooks we've seen yet..."

    Screen Resolution: 768p

    /me scrolls down to comments to complain, then hits Back button on browser.
    Reply
  • Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    Seriously. Is 1366x768 a good replacement for 1024x768? Sure. For 1280x800? No. Likewise, I'm fine with 1600x900 rather than 1440x900, and 1920x1080 instead of 1680x1050, but going from 1920x1200 to 1920x1080 is...well, it's just insulting.

    Manufacturers: If you're really hell bent for leather on shoving wider screens down our throats, the least you could do is give us 2048x1152, which still fits into the single-link DVI spec. How about 2400x1350? It divides nicely into 1600x900 for gaming and other 3D applications, and still gives you that shiny high-res look for regular 2D stuff.

    I suppose 2048x1280 or even 2048x1536 on a desktop monitor is just too much to ask...
    Reply
  • Malih - Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - link

    This will depend on whether Windows 8 can deliver good hi dpi support, currently some applications break when setting the text size of text to other than default, and non apple laptops use Windows, so they're somewhat held back by compatibility issues.
    I believe Metro apps will adapt well with high resolution, but this is not the case with some desktop apps.
    Reply
  • danielkza - Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - link

    I'm yet to find a single application updated on the last 5 years that messes up high-DPI, at least starting from Vista when I started using it. Reply
  • Malih - Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - link

    well, I found some, mostly utilities and apps that comes from manufacturers with the driver cd/downloads, that uses fugly UI, but because I need them to use the hardware... latest app I found that breaks is The Witcher 2 Configuration Tool Reply
  • Finraziel - Thursday, March 15, 2012 - link

    Well, some of us also just have good eyes... I have absolutely no problems using my acer AO522 netbook which has a 720p 10" screen. That comes to exactly the same pixel density as 1080p on 15". Actually I wouldn't mind if the pixel density got even higher, when Asus comes with their full hd 13" models I might be really tempted, if I have the money for it then. Reply

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